Smart Store Solution Provider Freemud Secures CNY 60 Million
COVID-19 and China
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Chinese smart retail support system and solutions provider Freemud (非码) recently announced a CNY 60 million (USD 8.6 million) strategic investment. The investment event was led by SuningHoldings Group(苏宁控股), Red Star Macalline (红星美凯龙), Prometheus Capital (普思资本) and IDG Capital.

Previously, the company raised CNY 40 million (USD 6.4 million) in its Series A round of financing in April 2018, led by GSR ventures (金沙江创投). In December 2018, IDG Capital injected CNY 60 million (USD 8.8 million) in a Series A+ round of funding. Early-to-mid stage investment fund ZWC Ventures (众为资本) took part in both of the two earlier funding activities.

Founded in 2014, the Shanghai-based Freemud cut into China's smart retail industry, and mainly concentrates on providing intelligent solutions for scenarios whereby shops interact with their customers.

In general, the intelligent transformation of retail enterprises concerns on two parts: one is the internal management of the store, such as the supply chain, ERP, POS software, finance, etc.; the other concerns the transactions and interactions between stores and their customers, which is the position of Freemud. This includes the cashier, card coupons, takeaways, members, mini-apps, games, electronic invoices and so on.

According to Derrick Chen (陈宝平), founder and CEO of the smart store platform, the company has experienced two stages in its development: 1. From 2014 to 2017, it provided personalized digital transaction complete solutions for large-scale chain stores, by adopting a project customizing approach; 2. Starting from 2017, the solution provider has been leveraging its experience and capabilities gained from the customization projects to build its own cloud service platform, one that is more standardized and is able to serve a wider range of merchants.

In September 2019, Freemud launched its ‘i application,’ which empowered stores with intelligent capabilities through a lightweight Software as a Service (SaaS) approach. Until now, the service has attracted 30 brands, and there are more than 50 brands with the intention to cooperate in the future.

At present, the company is serving more than 300 leading retail chains, such as Starbucks, McDonald's and FamilyMart. With more than 150,000 stores subscribing to its service, the platform now records an average daily transaction amount exceeding 8 million, and the average sum of money in its daily transaction tally surpasses CNY 200 million.

As of October 31, the cumulative GMV of Freemud exceeded CNY 54 billion, 88% of which came from clients operating in the catering industry.

“The Internetization and the intelligent transformation of traditional retail stores are unquestionable megatrends. Freemud has always been devoted to exploring the boundaries of intelligence that a shop is able to realize,” said Derrick Chen. “Our existing intelligent mid-station systems have the potential to add AI elements in the future, which could enrich the capacity of an offline shopping context.”

*Contributor: Ivan Platonov | Editor: Luke Sheehan
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