Thursday 8 October 2015 4:28 am

The next fintech? Why London can make unicorns a retail reality

Russ Shaw is founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates.

The future unicorns of the UK lie in London’s retail technology sector. This is according to a fifth of Tech London Advocates, in a study of the future growth drivers of London’s technology industry.

The truth is, London already leads the world in terms of expertise and knowledge around retail technology. Retail technology is a sector which has a direct impact on what people buy and how they shop in London.

This is the secret industry powering all the little improvements to the way people shop online. Consumers today have more choice than they have ever had before.

London, and the UK as a whole, is leading the charge of new developments in this field. A survey by GP Bullhound recently showed that the UK already has the largest number of unicorn companies. It is no surprise that 75 per cent of tech professionals in the capital believe London is the digital capital of Europe.  

The environment in London has proved conducive to growth for a range of digital sectors already, most notably fintech. The greater access to funding and support from government have been cited as two of the reasons behind the UK’s success. Now is the time for technology to diversify into wider verticals.

London has a plethora of innovative and creative retail tech companies on the cusp of growth in terms of size and scale. TruRating, for example, empowers the consumer by allowing them to rate their online shopping experience. Stella and Dot, a jewellery company seeking to create an online network of entrepreneurs, have even expanded to London from San Francisco.

London should be looking to create the next Amazon or eBay rather than Facebook or Google. That is why Tech London Advocates – a network of tech experts across London – will be working to make the case for London as the leading global destination for retail technology in the months and years ahead.

Our event today, which will bring a range of voices together at a venue that is itself a shining example of London’s commitment to reinvention. Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is just one such example of the work we are doing.

The next generation of London’s digital specialisms, from retail technology to cyber tech, fashion tech to edtech, will be showcased in front of the City’s business leaders. 

It is clear that London retail technology has the right foundations to support the next generation of unicorns.The growth of retail technology will be one of the defining developments of the next few years. To continue our success building billion-dollar tech companies it is to these new emerging sectors we must be turning.