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Event Coverage

Shoptalk 2019 Startup Pitch Recap

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Coresight Research

Key Points

The Coresight Research team was in Las Vegas attending and participating in the Shoptalk 2019 conference, March 3­–6. In this report, we profile the 15 innovative retail-technology companies that competed in Shoptalk’s Startup Pitch.

  • To kick off this year’s conference, Coresight Research Founder and CEO Deborah Weinswig emceed Shoptalk’s Startup Pitch competition.
  • The competition featured 15 early-stage technology companies, which we classified into four categories: merchandising and marketing solutions; physical retail solutions; fulfillment and post-purchase operations; and, retail e-commerce experiences.
  • There were two winners, one chosen by a panel of judges and the other through audience voting.
  • The judges picked Chatter Research, a company that makes a conversational commerce tool tailored to collect consumer post-purchase feedback.
  • The audience chose smartphone-based self-checkout solution Rapitag.

The Coresight Research team attended and participated in Shoptalk 2019 in Las Vegas
in early March. Shoptalk is one of the world’s largest conferences devoted to retail and
e-commerce innovation.

The conference brings attendees from across retail to discuss the rapid evolution of how consumers discover, shop and buy—from new technologies and business models to the latest trends in consumer behaviors, preferences and expectations. Coresight Research partnered with Shoptalk to host the conference’s annual startup pitch competition for the fourth consecutive year.

The event saw 15 innovative retail-technology companies vying for two cash prizes of $25,000 each. Below, we summarize our insights from the event.

Shoptalk 2019 Startup Pitch Competition emcee Deborah Weinswig
Source: Coresight Research

 

Leaders from the startups pitched their businesses to a panel of judges, emceed by Coresight Research Founder and CEO Deborah Weinswig. Two winners were chosen, one by the panel of judges and one through audience voting. The judges were:

  • Cheryl Cheng, general partner at BlueRun Ventures, a Menlo Park-based early-stage venture capital firm focused on seed and Series A opportunities.
  • Julian Counihan, a partner at Schematic Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on technology companies in the supply chain, manufacturing, transportation and digital industrial sectors.
  • Annie Kadavy, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in startups from seed, early and growth phases and has backed more than 500 companies.

Shoptalk curated the participating startups, looking for companies with solutions to some of the most vexing issues facing retailers today. A total of 15 startups were selected from among hundreds of applicants through a rigorous vetting process:

  • Countries of origin: The 15 startups represented the US, Canada, Germany, Israel
    and the UK.
  • B2B focus: The pitch competition focused on startups creating business-to-business (B2B) solutions.
  • Area of disruption: The startups all focus on one of four areas of retail disruption: merchandising and marketing solutions; physical retail solutions; fulfillment and post-purchase operations; and, retail e-commerce experiences.
  • Funding: Of the 15 competing startups, the majority (11) have raised seed funding,
    two are in the post-seed/Series A funding stage and two chose not to disclose their level of funding.

Each startup focuses on one of the four areas of retail disruption, as depicted below.

Source: Coresight Research

 

The Winners

Audience’s choice winner: Rapitag. From left to right: Joe Laszlo (VP Content, Shoptalk), Deborah Weinswig, Sebastian Mueller (Founder & CTO, Rapitag), Cheryl Cheng, Annie Kadavy, Julian Counihan
Source: Coresight Research

 

Judges’ choice winner: Chatter Research. From left to right: Joe Laszlo (VP Content, Shoptalk), Deborah Weinswig, Simon Foster (Founder & CEO, Chatter Research), Cheryl Cheng, Annie Kadavy, Julian Counihan
Source: Coresight Research

 

Startup Profiles

Source: Coresight Research

 

Chatter Research at a Glance — Judges’ Choice

Chatter Research built a post-purchase tool to engage shoppers after retail purchases through AI-powered surveys sent by text message. Through Chatter Research platform, shoppers that decide to participate to the post-purchase engagement with the retailers receive—once they leave the store—an automated text message that ask questions to encourage sharing their impressions of their shopping experience. With the use of machine learning algorithms, the feedback received from participating shoppers is converted into real-time insight and actionable data that is easily accessible and visualized by the retailer through a dashboard.

According to Chatter, the interface generates a response rate up to eight times higher than conventional feedback-gathering tools and has a 94% completion rate. Its text-based invitation can be sent immediately after a shopper leaves the store. The company is working with brands such as Fanatics, J.P. Morgan Chase and LUSH.

Source: Chatter Research

 

What Problem Does Chatter Solve?

Many retailers don’t have insight into customers’ in-store experiences. The most common solution that asks a customer to log on to a web-based survey tied to a customer receipt often fails to capture how customers feel the minute they leave the retail store. Chatter created a more conversational approach than the more traditional web-based survey, thanks to its application of AI technology

Headquarters

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Funding Stage

Seed. Chatter Research raised $150,000 over one round on May 8, 2017.

Business Model

Software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Management Team

Simon Foster, CEO and Founder at Chatter Research, has more than 17 years of business building and management experience, having co-founded volunteer platform Timeraser and served as member of the board of directors in several organizations.

Company Outlook

Chatter Research is currently working with Fortune 500 customers in more than 3,000 retail locations. The platform is currently used in 1,600 retail and food-service outlets in the US and Canada. Chatter Research is expanding its reach further in other markets overseas, with a dashboard translated into different languages, and it is running pilot programs in countries including China and Spain.

Rapitag at a Glance — Audience’s Choice

Rapitag offers an Internet of Things (IoT) based self-checkout platform for apparel and high-value merchandise that consists of a patented security tag that unlocks automatically once payment get through. The shoppers can scan with their smartphone the Rapitag’s digital tag attached to the item, prompting the payment process on the app. Once payment is successful, the tag can be removed by the shopper, who can leave the store without queueing at the checkout. Rapitag enables retailers to offer shoppers automated smartphone-based self-checkout, bringing to brick-and-mortar stores the secure and convenient one-click purchase experience already enjoyed by consumers when buying online. The company says its tags “are taking mobile self-checkout to another level.”

Rapitag offers shoppers a multichannel experience by integrating online checkout into the brick-and-mortar shopping journey. Retailers using Rapitag can reduce cart abandonment and encourage impulse buying by removing obstacles such as queues and providing a hassle-free checkout system.

Source: Rapitag

 

Market Overview

Rapitag operates in the IoT in retail segment, which consists of connected devices mainly used to track inventory and consumer behavior or to improve the consumer’s shopping experience by making it more engaging. The global IoT in retail market is predicted to reach $94 billion by 2025, with average annual growth of about 21% during the forecast period 2018–2025, according to market research firm Grand View Research.

What Problem Does Rapitag Solve?

More and more consumers enjoy the experience of shopping online, as evinced by the rising popularity of the channel. Online customers appreciate services such as one-click checkout offered by the likes of Amazon, and they expect the same when they shop elsewhere. Thus, online shopping has created new benchmarks that offline retailers need to meet in order to remain competitive. Moreover, brick-and-mortar shoppers often point to checkout lines as their number-one frustration in shopping. Retailers are using self-checkout and checkout-free shopping to overcome this pain point, but some retailers—such as those in consumer electronics and fashion—eschew self-checkout due the high risk of theft and fraud. Rapitag
says that its solution offers security at a level that allows electronics and fashion companies
to use self-checkout.

Headquarters

Munich, Germany.

Funding Stage

Seed. Latest funding round amounted to $11,800 on October 18, 2017.

Business Model

Hardware-as-a-service (HaaS). Customers’ subscription includes Rapitag’s security tags, software and support service.

Management Team

Alexander Schneide is Founder & CEO at Rapitag. Previously Schneide was business development manager at Hejpix, an e-commerce retailer of customized print products

Sebastian Mueller, Founder & CTO at Rapitag. Before launching this startup, Mueller was head of IT operations at marketing services provider intelliAd Media.

Company Outlook

Technology was successfully tested in a pilot with MediaMarktSaturn (one of the largest European consumer electronics retailers) in Germany in 2018. Next, the company will pilot it with shops in grocery and fashion in Germany as well as other European markets and the US. The company is proactively looking to expand in the US market, in which it is negotiating with a number of major customers.

Cymbio at a Glance

Cymbio simplifies processes between brands and retail partners by providing a single platform to manage wholesale and direct-to-consumer (D2C) operations, enabling brands, retailers and vendors to seamlessly work together, eliminating painful, time-consuming and expensive integrations and process changes.

Cymbio automates the process of moving product information from brands to fully styled retail product pages, and facilitates other data sharing, including inventory management, order routing and billing. The solution also facilitates automated drop-shipping, reorders, in-store drop ship and buy-online, pickup-in-store (BOPIS). Its fulfillment algorithm is fully customizable to respond to a brand’s objectives, including to minimize shipping costs or to increase the speed of delivery. Cymbio can increase both efficiencies and sales for brands.

Source: cym.bio

 

What Problem Does Cymbio Solve?

Brands and retailers work with different back-end systems and data structures, which makes it difficult to share data and communicate efficiently in real time, often resulting in lost sales and reluctance to pursue new opportunities. By streamlining information between trading partners, Cymbio enables brands and retailers to react more quickly, save time through efficiently sharing information, and better leverage existing inventory.

Headquarters

Tel Aviv, Israel.

Funding Stage

Not disclosed.

Business Model

Cymbio is platform that can be accessed from web and mobile devices. Cymbio operates on a performance-based model, with customizations available.

Management Team

Gilad Zirkel is CTO at Cymbio. Previously, he served as CTO and co-founder at tech firm  Hyperactivate.

Mor Lavi is co-founder and COO at Cymbio, and previously served as CEO in social media company Vigo and at service firm Ifat Media Analysis.

Roy Avidor is CEO and co-founder at Cymbio. He also owns I.A IL, an exclusive distributor for brands including Asics, Birkenstock, Camper and Dr Martens.

Company Outlook

Cymbio aims to be the integration-free platform that, with a few clicks, enables businesses
to start working together in a fully automated way. The company aims to expand its capabilities through partnerships such as the one agreed with leading third-party logistics provider Bergen Process at the end of 2018 and through the expansion of its platform capabilities such as its ship-from-store module announced at NRF2019 on January 2019.

DeepMagic at a Glance

DeepMagic provides automated, unattended, checkout-free shopping experiences. This “mini-store” can be placed in stand-alone locations such as hotel lobbies, college campuses or inside retail outlets to create a “store-within-a-store” experience. The company has developed a checkout system called the Qick Kiosk to enable tap-and-go transactions and payment. The company’s proprietary technology uses AI to recognize products and shoppers, track transactions in store and automatically charge the basket to the shopper’s credit card. DeepMagic partnered with Cisco System to open an unattended Cisco Mini Store to sell electronic products.

DeepMagic’s value proposition is to make shopping easy and frictionless through tap-and-go checkout at a cashier-free, secure, unattended 24/7 kiosk—and the ability to bring retail into new environments where people live, work and play.

Source: Global Payments/DeepMagic

 

What Problem Is the Company Solving?

Today’s consumer values convenient experiences and craves experiential retail. DeepMagic’s “mini-store” lets brands more easily connect with customers without having to invest in the high initial costs and long-term leases normally associated with traditional physical retail options. The company lets retailers run stores unattended at less expense and with extended hours—with an automated customer experience including checkout and security.

The stores can also extend reach into new areas such as hotel lobbies, university campuses, gyms, commercial office buildings, malls, etc. The Qick Kiosk can also be embedded inside a retail location as a “store-within-a-store” for new product introductions and pop-up shops.

Headquarters

New York, New York.

Funding Stage

Seed. Private funding.

Business Model

DeepMagic charges a one-time fee followed by an ongoing software-as-a-service monthly fee.

Management Team

Dr. Bernd Schoner is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMagic. After earning his PhD in machine learning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he co-founded ThingMagic, a startup that applied RFID technology for IoT systems in retail, raised more than $30 million in VC funds and expanded in more than 50 countries.

Dr. Davi Geiger is co-founder and CTO at DeepMagic. Geiger holds a PhD in artificial intelligence and physics at MIT and is an associate professor at New York University.

Company Outlook

DeepMagic deployed its first commercial kiosk with Cisco in 2018 and has signed distribution deals with a major payment processor, a multinational beverage manufacturer and a large global retailer, among others, according to the company.

Fillogic at a Glance

Fillogic is a logistics-as-a-service platform for retail that is creating a network of tech-enabled, micro fulfillment hubs located in unused space at retail centers. Fillogic’s logistics capabilities let retailers optimize operations from existing stores. The platform offers benefits to transportation providers and commercial property managers as well.

Fillogic’s platform offers retailers forward-staged inventory, ship-from-store optimization, inventory management and omni-channel logistics services. Its logistics capabilities enable retailers to store inventory closer to customers, optimize ship-from-store and better manage inventory, among other benefits.

Fillogic’s logistics capabilities can help retailers reduce transportation costs by 10% and delivering expedite orders at some 60% less costs than the costs incurred without using the platform, according to the company.

Source: fillogic.co

 

What Problem Is the Company Solving?

Many retail stores are being asked to perform warehouse-like functions but are not equipped to execute all the necessary logistics tasks. Fillogic lets retailers use empty space in existing stores to expand capabilities. It also lets commercial REITs optimize space use by providing back-end logistics infrastructure to help retail clients best service walk-in and online consumers.

Headquarters

New York, New York.

Funding Stage

Seed.

Management Team

Bill Thayer is co-founder and CEO at Fillogic. He has more than 25 years’ experience in retail logistics, technology and e-commerce with major retailers.

Rob Caucci is co-founder and president at Fillogic and has previously co-founded and directed tech firm Arteria Network.

Company Outlook

Fillogic launched its first hub in late 2018 and is looking to partner with national mall owners. The company has also completed site selection for the next two hubs and hopes to have 10 more within the next 18 months.

Increasingly at a Glance

Increasingly helps retailers automate and personalize online product bundles. Powered by machine learning, the platform analyzes the retailers’ assortments and sales, pricing and other data to create automated product bundles. These bundles can be based on the unique user, dynamic discounting efforts, geo-filtering and more. The solution integrates into e-commerce product and checkout pages, as well as into email.

According to the company, customers have seen average order values increase up to 12%. The company received the Breakthrough Innovation of 2018 award at Retail Recharged’s annual retail technology event. Notable clients include Samsung, Party City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Source: Ovan/Pexels.com

 

What Problem Does Increasingly Solve?

According to Gartner, more than half of retailers conduct no on-site product bundling, creating a significant missed opportunity in cross selling. According to Increasingly, Amazon drives 6–7% incremental revenue from AI bundling, worth $14 billion each year.

Headquarters

London, UK

Funding Stage

Post-seed.

Business Model

Increasingly charges a monthly license fee or a paid-on-performance fee for companies that want to test the solution.

Management Team

Sri Sharma is co-founder and CEO at Increasingly. Previously he founded and directed marketing firm Net Media Planet.

Satish Jayakumar is co-founder and COO at Increasingly. He has more than 18 years of entrepreneurial experience in developing strategic and profitable online businesses across markets.

Company Outlook

This year, the company will expand platform capabilities to include in-marketing revenue generating tools.

Ladingo at a Glance

Landingo offers a cloud-based solution to enable seamless international shipping for business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce. The company focuses on larger items, such as furniture, bicycles and other bulky products. Container sharing optimization allows Ladingo to offer lower shipping rates for larger items.

Ladingo’s system calculates consumer-facing prices and delivery estimates, and on the back-end handles freight forwarders, custom regulations, tracking and other steps in international fulfillment. The company believes its solution “is opening the door to the international B2C
e-commerce of large courier items” by automating the fulfillment of international parcel services for maximum efficiency and minimum complexity.

Source: Ladingo

 

What Problem Does Ladingo Solve?

Currently, nearly all B2C e-commerce purchases are shipped via air freight, according to The Times of Israel, a factor that limits to smaller products the items that shoppers can buy online internationally. The International B2C e-commerce does not exists for large items, according to the company. For example, as of 2018 it was still not possible to buy online a sofa from overseas, the company said.  Merchants often face complexity and high cost when shipping large products internationally, and areoften told that large items does not ship internationally or are asked for very expensive fees or to self-import the items. Cross-border e-commerce could become way more valuable with the possibility of shipping large items internationally.

Headquarters

Tel Aviv, Israel.

Funding Stage

Seed. The company raised a total of $1 million over one round on February 27, 2019, thanks to the investment from shipping firm ZIM.

Business Model

Paid service—included in shipping price.

Management Team

Hagar Valiano Rips is founder and CEO at Ladingo. She has more than 10 years of experience in technology and sold her first company at the age of 25. She served as a VP in e-commerce and SaaS companies for many years.

Ruth Reiner is founder and CMO at Ladingo. She previously served as CEO at Bateman Lithium.

Guy Levi is founder and CTO at Ladingo. He has more than 20 years’ experience working for leading tech companies, including Amdocs and Vatbox.

Company Outlook

Ladingo is actively working on beta pilots with customers looking to ship globally.

LexSet at a Glance

LexSet offers a visual search tool built and optimized for interior design and furniture sellers. Shoppers can upload an image—a single picture or room’s worth of them – and LexSet will identify and show complementary furniture options. Integrated into furniture retail websites and apps, LexSet’s automated tagging and visual search tools seek to make discovery easier and more intuitive, while improving conversion.

Through LexSet, products are made directly shoppable thanks to the visual search function can be integrated into a website or app. A matching system powered by a widget can identify similar or matching products from a photo uploaded by the user. The automated tagging function makes products more searchable.
LexSet is a graduate of New York City accelerator XRC Labs and was incubated as a spin-out of Seattle-based Intellectual Ventures.

Source: LexSet

 

What Problem Does LexSet Solve?

Furniture has the lowest e-commerce conversion rate at 1.5%, but also has the highest average order value (AOV). Furniture sellers often face difficulty accurately attributing and tagging products. LexSet’s visual search helps shoppers find the products, while its auto-tagging adds accurate metadata to the products in their databases to improve SEO and site searchability.

Headquarters

New York, New York.

Funding Stage

Seed. Total funds raised $800,000.

Business Model

LexSet charges a one-time non-recurring engineering fee of $5,000–$30,000, depending on the size and complexity of the data set. Once integrated into the client’s software interface, LexSet charges in tiered API call bundles, with a typical shopper generating $0.10–$0.60 in a given month, depending on usage.

Management Team

Leslie Oliver Karpas is co-founder and CEO at LexSet. Previously, Karpas founded and directed Metamason, a company that used 3D technology to scan and print customized, ergonomic medical products.

Francis Bitonti is co-founder and CTO at LexSet. Bitonti serves also as founder and president of New York-based design and engineering firm Studio Bitonti, which develops innovative solutions for advanced manufacturing technologies.

Company Outlook

LexSet is working on pilots with several top furniture companies, including a major US contract furniture seller and a large Swedish furniture company.

Mystore-E at a Glance

Mystore-E’s platform combines inventory, sales and other store data with unique business logic and machine learning to recommend product merchandising and display suggestions, positioning items that shoppers most want in areas of the store where they are most likely to see them.

MyStore-E aims to create a customized shopping experience that helps retailers meet consumers’ expectations when they shop in brick-and-mortar stores. The technology remains in the background during the shoppers’ visit, alerting sales associates of what shoppers are trying on and showing the best-matched products for each customer.

The company also launched an AI-based assistant called Tore-E that it says helps improve the productivity of sales associates. Tore-E assists the stores via a simple task-based and supervised application, giving retailers a tool to communicate with the store in real-time to make sure the store setup matches customer needs and offering the ability to connect with sales associates
in real-time.

Source: Mystore-E

 

What Problem Does Mystore-E Solve?

Most store associates and managers do not have access to real-time communication and information systems, nor are they able to evaluate patterns and trends in productivity at the store level. Mystore-E’s AI-based platform gives store managers and associates information they can use to optimize store displays, while providing a communication tool for store associates to better understand customer wants and needs from company data. Tore-E supplies a real-time communication tool that delivers accurate insights, predictions and sales-supporting data on in-store product performance to improve store set-up and sales associate productivity.

Headquarters

Tel Aviv, Israel.

Funding Stage

Series A (recently secured $2.2 million in seed funding led by Signet Jewelers).

Business Model

Monthly subscription based on fee per store and per user.

Management Team

Asaf Shapira is co-founder and CEO at Mystore-E. Previously he co-founded WebPick Internet Holding, an Internet assets developer company.

Idan Sergi is co-founder and head of strategy and business development. Before this, he served in roles including deputy CEO and senior business development manager at other companies.

Company Outlook

The company is working with 10 retailers and operates in more than 100 stores in Israel and the US.

RetailDeep at a Glance

RetailDeep is a facial recognition platform for brick-and-mortar retailers. The Canada-based startup has built a compact, easily installed sensor that lets retailers use facial recognition to identify shoppers as they enter a store. The solution enables several potential applications, including recognizing VIP customers, permitting card-free loyalty programs, and providing a new source of store performance metrics. When a customer walks into the store, the retailer is notified via mobile, desktop or wearable. Then the system tells the retailer who the customer is and what that person has purchased, and suggests what the customer could buy today.

Source: RetailDeep

 

What Problem Is the Company Solving?

RetailDeep provides retailers with an effective and easy to implement way to apply facial recognition in the store. The technology enables the provision of more customized shopping experiences to customers in a brick-and-mortar environment, as it occurs already online where all the shopper’s information is automatically available to the retailer.

Headquarters

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Funding Stage

RetailDeep participated in XRC Labs Cohort 6 Demo Day 2018.

Management Team

Hai Hu is CEO and chief scientist at RetailDeep. He holds a PhD and was a co-founder of technology firm Orgrimmar Tech.

Changhai Jiang is CTO and lead engineer at RetailDeep. He has a PhD and co-founded technology firm Orgrimmar Tech.

Company Outlook

RetailDeep is currently expanding an eight-store pilot with Chinese retailer Pocket Noir to 100 locations in China, and is undertaking several trials at businesses in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Shipsi at a Glance

Shipsi wants to level the instant shipping playing field by enabling online retailers to offer fast and accurate shipping without having to manage the logistics. The company integrates with clients’ e-commerce checkout page and last-mile delivery networks, including Postmates, Uber and others, so companies can offer same-day delivery. The solution automatically evaluates existing last-mile networks to determine if same-day delivery is possible, and if so, selects the optimal combination of cost and delivery time to present to the shopper. Customers can track deliveries in real-time and receive notifications when a delivery is confirmed, picked up and delivered.

Source: Shipsi

 

What Problem Does Shipsi Solve?

According to Shipsi, 88% of customers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery, yet only 15% of retailers now offer same-day delivery, and more than 25% of shopping cart abandonment is because shipping options are too slow. But same-day delivery is a challenge for most companies, and white-label integration with last-mile delivery partners requires substantial time and effort.

Headquarters

Los Angeles, California.

Funding Stage

Seed—recently closed a capital raise for $1.9 million.

Business Model

The company charges based on the number of transactions (tier-based), plus a one-time implementation fee and monthly recurring fee.

Management Team

Chelsie Lee is founder and CEO at Shipsi. Previously, she served as strategic account executive at supply chain technology firm SPS Commerce.

Company Outlook

The company operates in more than 100 cities across the US. Current partners include Shopify, Postmates, Uber and Salesforce. Clients include Create the Edit, Mini Dreamers and No Rest for Bridget.

ShoppingGives at a Glance

Designed to inspire positive social impact through everyday purchases, ShoppingGives enables retailers to simplify the process of adding an optional charitable donation during the online checkout process. Retailers can select one or a few charities to support, or leave it to the customer, offering shoppers an extra incentive to complete the purchase while also creating an authentic charitable giving moment at checkout. Letting customers choose the charity also gives brands a unique opportunity to gain valuable customer data insight, streamline giving through a fully managed donation process, measure donation spend against the bottom line, and personalize the charitable giving experience.

Source: ShoppingGives

 

What Problem Is ShoppingGives Solving?

Today’s consumers, especially millennials, have an affinity for brands that make a positive social impact. ShoppingGives helps retailers engage the customer in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, which drives brand loyalty and customer engagement.

Headquarters

Chicago, Illinois.

Funding Stage

Seed, $1.2 million.

Business Model

ShoppingGives’ retailer program, Change Commerce®, is a SaaS cart technology sold on a subscription basis.

Management Team

Ronny Sage is founder and CEO at ShoppingGives. Previously Sage served as Board Member at association GoCivic Chicago and Associate Director, Digital Strategy at digital marketing firm Rise Interactive.

Company Outlook

ShoppingGives believes that micro-actions lead to macro-effects, saying, “By enabling impact through everyday purchases, we recognize the potential to harness the power of consumption for positive impact.” The company aims to continue to raise the impact of retail purchases on charity donations, and is partnering already with over 750 retailers, according to the company, including Target, Macy’s, Walmart, Kohl’s, and Home Depot. Thanks to these partnerships, each retailer donates up to 40% of shopper’s purchases at no extra cost to the consumer.

Spruce Labs at a Glance

Spruce Labs offers a product called Sprucebot, which the company calls a “guest experience bot” that provides personalized experiences in retail stores. Sprucebot is a hardware and software-based solution that offers a suite of conversation commerce, automation and clienteling solutions.

The Sprucebot plugs into the store’s Internet connection, enabling the platform to interact with shoppers over Wi-Fi and SMS. Shoppers can receive proximity-based promotions, SMS reminders on discounts, or even schedule appointments. The mobile-first platform also can manage and create unique shopper profiles, so that retail employees receive insights into who shoppers are as they enter the store and what they might want.

Spruce Labs’ Sprucebot enables small businesses to leverage online to offline capabilities in retail, allowing them to engage with shoppers through customer recognition and equipping store associates with information on customer history and preferences.

Source: Sprucebot

 

What Problem Is the Company Solving?

As retail sales continue to shift online, there is increasing pressure for brick-and-mortar retailers to leverage their physical presence to better compete against e-commerce. This makes the role of the store employee even more important: Today’s informed shoppers expect excellent customer service, but store employees have little information on specific shoppers, so they are at a disadvantage to the online experience.

Headquarters

Denver, Colorado.

Funding Stage

Not disclosed.

Business Model

Spruce Labs’ flagship product, the Spruce GX Platform, charges clients based on a SaaS model. There are à la carte monthly fee options, as well as yearly and multi-year licensing for bundles of features.

Management Team

Taylor Romero is founder and CEO of Spruce Labs. Previously he served as CEO and head of technology at men’s fashion firm Spruce.

Mike Hrabe is COO at Spruce Labs. Before this, he co-founded technology firm Quantum Retail Technology.

Company Outlook

Spruce Labs is looking for one or two more paid pilots with some strategic retail partners starting Q3 2019. The company is already a partner with US beauty retailer Ulta Beauty for the development of an app functionality to facilitate appointments booking and scheduling.

Tangiblee at a Glance

Tangiblee provides a product visualization solution for e-commerce websites. The company uses existing product content (product images and descriptions) to generate interactive and personalized product viewing experiences. For example, it renders a backpack or piece of jewelry on a virtual model, and displays a piece of furniture in a virtual room.

The solution integrates into existing product pages in pursuit of several goals: to increase conversions by reducing consumer uncertainty at the decision-making point of the shopping journey, and to reduce the number of returns. At the individual SKU level, Tangiblee seeks to address consumers’ concerns about size and fit.

Source: Tangiblee/Facebook

 

What Problem Does Tangiblee Solve?

Return rates are one of e-commerce’s most costly friction points. Retail return rates (particularly in such categories as fashion, apparel, and shoes) are steadily rising, especially for online purchases. Customers returned $351 billion in purchases in 2017 in brick-and-mortar stores and online—about 10% of total purchases, according to the National Retail Federation. Online return rates are far higher than offline: 30% or more. By incorporating a solution that addresses size- and fit-related uncertainties, retailers may be able to reduce online returns.

Headquarters

Chicago, Illinois.

Funding Stage

Not disclosed.

Business Model

SaaS model, based on number of SKUs and website traffic served.

Management Team

Eliad Inbar is co-founder and CEO at Tangiblee. Previously, he was a co-founder of technology firm Triple Next Technologies. He earned a BSc Computer Science and an MBA from Tel Aviv University.

Yevgeniy Kuznetsov is co-founder and CTO at Tangiblee. He was a co-founder of Triple Next Technologies and holds a BSc Computer Science at Afeka Academic College of Engineering.

Company Outlook

Commercial rollout with about 70 brands and retail websites. Working to grow client base and start beta test on next-gen version by Q4 2019.

VisuWall at a Glance

VisuWall is an online business-to-business marketplace that simplifies the media buying process and seeks to monetize vacant commercial real estate. Brands can use the marketplace to find vacant storefronts for in-window advertising. The company describes itself as a physical-to-mobile ad platform, which means advertisers can place a static image in-window and, through geofencing and/or branded app integration, send a digital ad to mobile devices within the zone of the windows. The company integrates computer vision technology, allowing advertisers and brands to measure foot traffic and other metrics.

Source: VisuWall

 

What Problem Is the Company Solving?

Traditional advertising is out of sync with the metrics that digital media can provide with ease. Vacant storefronts are common across the US, and vacancies last an average of 18­–24 months, costing the real estate industry $9.2 billion in lost revenue annually. VisuWall provides a tool for landlords to generate some revenue from space that otherwise goes unused.

Headquarters

New York, New York.

Funding Stage

Seed ($1.5 million).

Business Model

VisuWall aggregates the supply on its custom marketplace and makes it accessible with a media rate shared with landlords. It also offers data analytics and reporting services.

Management Team

Kobi Wu is founder and CEO at VisuWall and a former music industry executive with more than 18 years of marketing and advertising experience.

Company Outlook

VisuWall is working with brands including Apple Music, Kellogg’s, Samsung, Google, Burberry to name a few and leading real estate firms. The company is active in New York and Los Angeles and is planning to expand to four markets by the end of 2019 and to 10 markets by the end of 2020.

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