Industry/sector: Omni-channel retail
Date founded: 2013
Founders: Ben Brown and Julian Polzella
Location: London In 2012 Urban Outfitters hinted that it would be moving to iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) systems. “Two or three weeks ago, we placed our very last register order,” said CIO Calvin Hollinger at the time. “Once we make sure this iPad works, all stores will be equipped with iPod touches and iPads.” That Retail Week figures suggest that retailers are now spending the equivalent of three per cent of annual turnover on omni-channel alone, highlights the vertical is set to become one of the biggest drivers of retail technology over the next few years. This would have been a disruptive move on their part. But we’re still awaiting this future – something that Urban Outfitters has failed to do and the co-founder os Shopwave picked up on. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Brown explained that he worked at Lloyds TSB where he “ended up managing innovation”.
“I witnessed many companies doing interesting things but online banking platforms were still non-existent or had functionality that barely exceeded displaying your bank balance,” he said. “However, I ended up leaving Lloyds after gaining funding for my first startup, VouChaCha, which managed multi-channel coupon distribution for many of the UK’s top 200 retailers.“We would track the in-store usage of each coupon in real-time, charging the retailer a percentage of each transaction which would be shared with the publisher. To achieve this we needed data from in-store PoS systems, which ended up being our greatest challenge. In many cases the systems that large retailers had were either incapable, or the companies that supplied them unwilling to integrate with us. Where it was possible, the cost to retailers was often prohibitive.” Shopwave was founded by Brown and Polzella, following the acquisition of VouChaCha. This was part of a Markcomedia acquisition worth £55m by Monitise, which allowed them to work on the gap they had spotted during their reign at VouChaCha. “It’s this speed of growth and potential that shows us that now is the time to push hard,” the company explained. “The retail POS sector was in desperate need of a technology shake-up – as a number of the leading systems on the market are holding back retailers. “A fast injection of revenue is required to build up the technical team and to continue the momentum. We are gunning after the biggest players in the market – disruption in a stagnant space has been our aim.” By Shané Schutte
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