Halla, the AI-powered production recommendation service for grocery retail, announced today that it has raised $4.5 million in Series A1 funding, led by Food Retail Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by Halla to $8.5 million.
Halla’s platform integrates with a grocer’s existing digital commerce solution to provide customized product recommendations and substitutions for out of stock items to consumers. But Halla’s platform doesn’t just rely on previous purchases to make its recommendations. The company says it uses more than 100 billion shopper and product data points to predict what a shopper is looking for. Halla’s product video embedded below illustrates how Halla’s the system looks at all kinds of data about a shopper as it makes a recommendation in real time.
Grocery has been the beneficiary of a ton of funding this year, with $10 billion going into the sector as of July this year. Most of of the funding and attention has been around speedy grocery delivery services, but money has been doled out to startups working up and down the grocery stack. Hungryroot, and online grocer that uses machine learning for predictive recommendations, raised $40 million last month. In April, Trax raised $640 million for its computer vision-based inventory management system, and Shelf Engine raised $41 million for its perishable inventory management platform.
A big reason for all this money flowing into grocery is the pandemic. Fears around COVID-19 sent record amounts of people into online grocery shopping last year, creating new logistical and fulfillment issues for retailers. But the pandemic also highlighted flaws in our existing grocery supply chain, as evidenced by the panic hoarding and empty shelves that happened at the beginning of the outbreak. All of this is to say there are a bunch of new issues for grocery retailers to solve post-pandemic, which means plenty of opportunities for startups.
Halla said that a “top-5 U.S. grocer” is currently running Halla in more than 1,100 e-commerce storefronts. Halla will use the new funding to double the number of stores it’s in, and double its headcount by 2022.