Ox, an order fulfillment platform that leverages augmented reality (AR) to speed order picking, has landed a $3.5 million seed round of funding, led by MaC Venture Capital and Cortado Ventures. Additional participation came from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund (which is an investor in FreightWaves), Vuzix, Florida Funders, KCRise Fund and Willow Growth Partners.
“I realized that in order to keep up with the massive and ever-growing retail market, traditional supply chains needed help catching up to the competition,” said Charu Thomas, founder and CEO of Ox. “This is when I began developing an AR platform for warehouse order picking. I had previously worked in a warehouse, so I knew how to best optimize the systems that were already in place while using my background in hardware prototyping and software development to create something entirely new. Ox provides its customers with a seamless experience for maximizing efficiency in all areas of fulfillment, from tailored onboarding of employees to real-time built-in associate messaging.”
The company plans to use the funding to grow its operations and expand its current team of 11, which includes interns. Ox’s technology is being used by Walmart, Google and Newell Brands among others.
“When seeking out next-generation investments, we look for technology capable of disrupting antiquated industries,” said Michael Palank, general partner at MaC Venture Capital. “Very few companies are capitalizing on supply chain logistics and order fulfillment for simple but crucial tasks such as online grocery shopping. Ox is disrupting the retail industry by not only helping companies make the most of tools they already have, but giving them the tools they need to work smarter than the competition.”
“Picking technology that uses machine learning can provide optimized routes so pickers can fulfill multiple orders at once without backtracking.”
– Charu Thomas, founded and CEO of Ox
Founded in 2019 by Thomas, Ox said its AR platform improves order picking speed by at least 15% and improves accuracy by 80% over existing technologies. The company’s platform has processed more than 12 million orders to date, it said, and has saved customers $129,000 annually per facility.
Thomas told Modern Shipper the system, which integrates seamlessly with client’s existing systems through API/EDI and custom integrations, helps sellers connect order management systems and warehouse or inventory management systems with order picking systems to ensure real-time accuracy and visibility.
As an order or batch of orders comes into the system, they are dispatched to AR-equipped smart glasses worn by the picker, Thomas said. The glasses will direct the employee to a location using universally recognizable and color-coded visual symbols. The picker takes the specified item and quantity that appears on the glasses and scans the location or the item barcode to verify they have the correct item. The picker then uses three built-in microphones, swipe gestures and a Bluetooth-connected barcode scanner to enter weights and accept quantities. Once the correct item and quantities are confirmed, the item is put into a designated bin and the picker is instructed on where to go next.
“Picking technology that uses machine learning can provide optimized routes so pickers can fulfill multiple orders at once without backtracking,” Thomas said.
If an item is mispicked, the glasses immediately flag the issue for the picker. Out-of-stock items are noted and if a suitable replacement item is available, that is recommended to the picker.
Thomas said the system works across all environments where order picking takes place, including warehouses, micro-fulfillment centers and even retail store shelves.
“Our technology enables retailers to offer Amazon-like service through their existing distribution network,” she said, noting that Ox’s technology is unique because it was created specifically for order fulfillment operations and not technology adapted for those needs.
Among the tasks Ox can fulfill is the transmission of inventory levels, fulfillment statuses, online orders, sales totals and item lines.
“At Rise of the Rest, we see opportunity first through the lens of geography. Northwest Arkansas is poised to be a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the supply chain and logistics space. Ox’s innovation in e-commerce fulfillment and order management is a prime example of that leadership,” said Anna Mason, partner in Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. “I first met Charu years ago at Plug and Play’s Supply Chain forum in Bentonville and have been so impressed with how she has grown her startup to meet this moment of extreme acceleration and demand in the e-commerce enablement space.”