John Lewis today crowned the five technology startups that have won a place in the retailer’s technology incubator, called JLAB.
The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 30 companies that were given five minutes last week to pitch a product that will help ensure John Lewis’s stores and website remain at the forefront of changing consumer shopping habits.
The five start-ups, listed below, will now be given £12,500 of funding to help develop their idea as well as office space at Level 39 and access to advice from the JLAB mentors, including confused.com founder Sarah Murray and Luke Johnson.
At the end of the incubation period in September, JLab will pick a winner and invest a further £100,000 in the project which, if successful, will be rolled out across John Lewis’ estate.
Technology has become a battleground for retailers, with others including Tesco launching similar digital hubs focusing on developing the next big thing in retail.
The three main areas John Lewis asked entrepreneurs to focus on were new ways to help customers shop across different channels, innovations around the “internet of things” and how John Lewis can use data to drive real-time, in-store personalisation.
The five finalists were:
Co-founded by Tim Andrew, Pete Williams and Melvin Artemas, Localz is a platform that combines GPS and iBeacon technology to help retailers detect when shoppers walk into their store to send out promotions and special offers to their phones.
Musaic is a wireless Hi-Fi system that can stream music from any device to multiple rooms in a house. Founded by entrepreneurs Matthew Bramble, Simon Grabowski and Carolyn Van Dongen, the start-up raised £60,000 through crowdfunding site Kickstarter earlier this year.
SpaceDesigned, from co-founders Nicholas and Diane Shaw, is an online app which allows consumers to accurately create and view virtual 3D versions of rooms in their house. John Lewis customers would be able to add a sofa they are considering buying for the retailer, for example, and see how it fits in their living room.
Tap2Connect’s founder Steve Cooke has come up with a way of creating electronic labels for products such as a fridge so that retailers and customers can continue to track that product after it has been sold or bought. These smart labels would allow John Lewis for example to create an app where customers can fix and item or track it’s energy usage compared with newer products.
Viewsy uses in-store sensors to track customers’ behaviour as they move through the store, allowing retailers to better understand what customers want and make better decisions. It was founded by Odera Ume-Ezeoke, a graduate from York university who was previously a senior manager at vouchers website Groupon.