Serena Williams invests in supply chain AI solutionSerena Williams invests in supply chain AI solution

The AI-powered smart supply chain management platform Calico has announced that it has raised $2.1 million in seed funding, led by Serena Ventures, tennis star Serena Williams’s Venture fund. Calico primarily serves apparel and accessory brands in the D2C space as well as enterprise retail companies, providing an AI-powered operating system to support supply chain alignment. Serena Ventures recently announced it had raised $111 million.

Why we care. It should be obvious that product makes an indispensable contribution to customer experience. That means the supply chain is key to customer experience too. The best marketing strategies in the world fall flat if the product can’t be delivered according to consumer expectations. The supply chain might sound abstract, but it was absolutely clear from Adobe’s data that consumer awareness of supply chain issues impacted behavior during the last holiday season. A study issued in December showed 77% of consumers were concerned about problems with online purchases.

Marketing can’t fix the supply chain. What it can do is manage expectations. Visibility into production and transportation makes that possible, and Calico finds itself in a category that can surely only grow.

Accurate forecasting. Visibility into the supply chain means not only the possibility of managing expectations, but also bringing products to market faster and avoiding excess inventory. “From running my own brand, I have experienced the exact problem Calico is solving,” said Serena Williams in a release.

The route to the consumer now passes through a highly complex and fragmented chain involving manufacturing, logistics and retail. The difficulty of managing through manual workflows was only exacerbated by COVID.

Read next: How changes in logistics and the supply chain will impact customer experience

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