Serena Williams Backs Retail Zipline

SAN FRANCISCO — Retail Zipline, which operates a communicaitons platform for retailers used by store employees, has raised $9.6 million Series A led by Emergence with participation from Serena Williams through her venture firm, Serena Ventures.

Santi Subotovsky and Kara Egan from Emergence will be joining Retail Zipline’s Board of Directors.

This new investment will fuel Retail Zipline’s growth so the company can expand the team and continue building products that improve the lives of retail associates, a demographic that comprises one in four American jobs, yet has historically been underserved.

“We look for companies that are one-step ahead, shaping their strategies based not only on what the current market lacks, but where their industry is headed,” said Kara Egan, Principal at Emergence. “I’m excited to be partnering with a company that has created a new way to deliver engaging on-brand customer experiences by giving employees the right tools to execute HQ’s vision.”

Top retailers like Lush Cosmetics, The LEGO Group, and Torrid rely on Retail Zipline’s software to improve productivity and deliver a memorable in-store experience. The company offers large and small retailers alike the ability to take operational information like sales promotions, product launches and best practices from HQ – which come from many siloed departments and change rapidly – and structure it in an intuitive and engaging way. This makes it easy for employees in stores to understand the context, prioritize work, and collaborate with teammates quickly so they can deliver on the brand promise.

”I spent a decade working at a top global retailer trying to engage store teams and make sure they delivered on our vision, but the solutions that were available didn’t solve our execution and communications challenges,“ said Melissa Wong, co-founder, and CEO of Retail Zipline. ”Other industries have benefited from new workflow tools, but retail has been left behind. That’s why we built Retail Zipline: we’re by retail, for retail. Our core mission is to build products that meet the needs of America’s most populous workforce: retail employees. We are grateful to have the support of Emergence and Serena Ventures, who have partnered with us to make our vision of improving retail worker’s lives and the in-store experience a near term reality.”

Retail Zipline’s current product suite was developed based on the feedback of tens of thousands of store employees, district managers, retail executives and communication managers, and includes four key applications, accessible via mobile and desktop:

  • Messages and Tasks: A communications, execution and engagement platform that helps stores track information from HQ and take action on it.
  • Resource Library: A centralized home for documents and multimedia that HQ can brand, manage and personalize without IT work.
  • Store Surveys: An internal survey tool that reports results, feedback and photos for each store in real-time, and provides visibility throughout the organization.
  • Group Communication: A two-way discussion platform that completes the feedback loop, enabling stores to communicate with each other and with HQ.

“As someone with an incredibly active life, I understand the need to be dynamic, and capable of quickly adapting to shifting priorities, but I’m also aware of the stress a fast-paced work environment can impose,” said Serena Williams of Serena Ventures. “Retail Zipline is tackling this issue head-on in retail – a notoriously stressful industry – by pioneering products that help store associates get organized, communicate efficiently, and deliver amazing customer experiences. I’m excited to support them as they change the way retail works from the bottom up.”