John Lewis invests £100,000 in micro-location startup

Retailer John Lewis is investing £100,000 in technology startup Localz, which specialises in micro-location technology

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Retailer John Lewis is investing £100,000 in technology startup Localz, which specialises in micro-location technology.

The retailer launched its JLab technology startup incubator earlier this year to find new ways to help customers shop across channels, simplify their lives using the internet of things and to use data for in-store personalisation.

In May, it selected five startups to move into the JLab office space in Level39, each of which received initial funding of £12,500 and mentoring from John Lewis, Risk Capital Partners, the founder of confused.com and Silicon Valley Bank. 

After developing their ideas for 12 weeks, the competition came to a head for the startups when they had to pitch their ideas last week.

Of the five finalists, John Lewis chose to trial technology from Localz, which sends promotions to customers' mobile phones according to the part of the store they are in.

"Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis, and JLab, our first tech incubator, has given us a new way to explore the technologies that will change how we all shop in the future," said John Lewis IT director Paul Coby (pictured). 

THE FIVE JLAB FINALISTS

  1. Localz: in-store digital engagement using proximity and iBeacon technology
  2. Musaic: wireless sound system for smart homes
  3. SpaceDesigned: online 3D room planning
  4. Tap2Connect: smart labelling for after-sales care
  5. Viewsy: in-store digital engagement using sensors to track customer behaviour

Localz plans to invest its winnings in its UK operations and continued technology development. The company is also looking to hire talent to work with its London-based team.

The technology it has created could allow customers to receive specialised offers on their smartphone as they visit different retail departments or help them find their way around the store.

JLab partner Stuart Marks praised the quality of entries and said picking a winner proved difficult. 

"I am sure all the companies will go on to become very successful, but there has to be a winner, and in this case we felt Localz has the potential to become a long-term partner to John Lewis and to provide continuous innovation for its customers," he said.

John Lewis has being eyeing up technology startups for some time to keep ahead of the game in the changing landscape of the UK high street.

The retailer works with a wide range of suppliers, from large traditional firms to early-stage startups. It likes to work with startups because they are fresh thinking and have the speed to get things done quickly as you deal with fewer people than larger suppliers. 


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