Growth during the crisis

Six months ago, Scandit achieved unicorn status. In the meantime, the world has changed. But Scandit CEO Samuel Müller remains optimistic. Even in the face of inflation and global staff shortages, the ETH Zurich spin-off still has a number of trump cards it can play.

The space available at Scandit’s registered office on Hardturmstrasse in Zurich is generous in light of the expected further growth. Nevertheless, the central space was looking a little untidy at the time because they had a major client event coming up and preparations for it were in full swing. Apart from presentations by Scandit, the event mainly focused on client interaction. “You know first hand what new possibilities our solutions can open up,” explains Scandit CEO Samuel Müller.

It’s not just that the ETH spin-off’s technology can replace dedicated barcode scanners with smartphones. Its capability is also creating a range of new applications and advantages, which are only gradually being discovered. A current example is the use of autonomous devices in individual branches of a leading US retailer. Thanks to Scandit’s ShelfView software, products on the shelves can now be recorded in real time on a device mounted on a cleaning robot as it moves along each row. They not only scan barcodes, but can also spot incorrect or missing price labels, for example, at the same time. The technology is easy to use and also results in greater flexibility, making it easy to turn branches of shop chains into hubs for collecting or dispatching products that have been ordered online.

Focus on innovation

At the core of the ongoing expansion of possibilities is Scandit’s technological market leadership. “Around 40% of employees are focused on developing and implementing new solutions,” says Müller. Throughout the process, customer needs are always taken into account. The team knows the challenges customers are facing first hand, because Scandit sells direct and not via distributors or advisors. Added to that is proximity in the literal sense: Scandit is represented in the most important markets with teams present on site.

Today, the ETH spin-off, which was founded in 2009, employs a total of 550 employees. Around a third of them work in Switzerland. Other major hubs are located in Great Britain, North America, Poland and Finland as well as in Singapore and Japan. “Global distribution also helps us with recruitment,” comments Müller.

The subsidiaries in Asia are relatively new. The Zurich-based company has really moved up the gears here following the Series C funding round, which was completed in 2020. In February 2022, investors injected a further 150 million as part of the Series D round. As a result, Scandit was valued at over one billion dollars. The company has raised a total of 300 million dollars so far.

Prominent investors and clients

Samuel Müller hints that the Series D round was not particularly difficult. For years, Scandit has been supported by some prominent investors, including Atomico, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and, from Switzerland, Swisscom Ventures and Forestay Ventures. Warburg Pincus took the lead in the Series D funding round. Even more important than the quality of its existing investors is the company’s performance. Between the Series C and Series D funding rounds, i.e. between May 2020 and February 2022, Scandit more than doubled its annual recurring revenue and it now has more than 1,700 global clients, among which are five of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. Other clients include 7-Eleven, DHL, Levi Strauss & Co and Toyota. 

Over the past two years, the push towards digitisation triggered by the coronavirus crisis has helped the company. Even in the current situation, Samuel Müller remains very optimistic. Inflation increases competition and intensifies the need to make efficiencies. This is where Scandit can help - from stock management and logistics to fulfilment. At the same time, the solutions provide greater flexibility. “We can ensure that promotional products are presented at the right time and at the right price,” says Müller, giving an example. Special offers will certainly become more frequent due to tighter consumer budgets.

Answer to staff shortage

The third key advantage to these solutions is the good user experience. Today, employees are in demand all over the world. This also applies to the retail trade and logistics. Solutions like the ones offered by Scandit can reduce the burden on individual employees by lowering the probability of errors and increasing efficiency. They also offer the chance to free up staff from the need to carry out tedious routine activities. All of this should lead to greater staff satisfaction and thus lower levels of turnover.

Medium-term prospects also look good. The use of augmented reality glasses will bring about profound changes in numerous sectors. For a company like Scandit, which combines technological market leadership with great customer proximity, this brings more opportunities for growth. Added to which are further developments in the retail trade, for example. “Shops will become experience hubs,” believes Samuel Müller. Scandit will supply the right technology for this, which provides both sellers and buyers alike with information.

(Stefan Kyora)
Photo: Samuel Müller, CEO Scandit