Like many other publishers in the internet age, “Retail Week” extends
their brand to live events. Retail Week Live 2015 was held in the
marvellously-located Hilton Metropole – pretty much the only major
London venue that’s readily accessible by both road and rail. The
conference is eye-wateringly expensive, with even the most heavily
discounted 2016 package selling for £1450. That price keeps out the
riff-raff, meaning that not only do you get to hear the CEOs from
retailers like Sainsburys, but you can also mingle with others of
similar calibre, in the tightly-focussed audience.

Whilst the plenary sessions and big-name exhibitors were the main draw
for the event, I found the space allocated to the technology startups
the most alluring. The competition for new firms was held over two
days, but all pitching companies also exhibited, to avoid missing any
one-day visitors. The firms below are my personal highlights.
Whether you’re a retailer, consumer, or investor, this tech is going
to be reshaping your world in coming years – and what’s more, you can
implement it immediately.

Formisimo is a stalwart of the eCommerce startup scene, with their
form optimisation software. As anyone who has ever shopped online
will know, forms are a major source of frustration for customers. Who
can honestly say they’ve never given up halfway through completing
one? The Formisimo technology works out exactly where these design
pain points lie, allowing retailers to pinpoint the precise moment a
customer flings their phone across the room in frustration – and then
lets them fix that problem, permanently.

Elevaate is a superb way for retailers to improve profits, by
emulating the kind of ‘sponsored listing’ we’ve become familiar with
from the likes of Amazon. If your suppliers are willing to pay you to
promote their products on your site, why not take the money?

Rarely do I see a product where the core technology blows my socks off
– but Digital Bridge certainly managed it. Their product allows
customers to start with any photo of their home or office, and then
edit it by adding paint, wallpaper, and furnishings from a retailer
catalogue. This really does work, with shadows and lighting
faithfully reproduced after the edit, giving a photorealistic result.
It’s the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ – for an industry which has
always struggled to get consumers to be daring.

Photospire allows retailers to make personalised videos for their
consumers. By combining intelligence on what’s likely to interest
individual customers, with the software smarts to weave the promotions
together in a coherent video, their product gives the same level of
personalisation we’re used to seeing in emails. You could dismiss
this as a gimmick, with an appeal that will quickly fade. But in
reality, it’s likely that consumers will come to accept personalised
video as being a normal and expected part of the retail experience.
After all, why wouldn’t people prefer watching a retailer video that’s
optimised to their wardrobe, price point, or buying criteria? It just
makes perfect sense.