Retail sector will be London’s next big tech drive, says Tech London Advocates

Retail technology industry predicted to follow in the footsteps of the financial technology sector by producing London’s next generation of industry-changing startups

Retail technology will be the next industry sector to generate billion-dollar startup companies in the capital, according to Tech London Advocates (TLA).

Almost 20% of the network agreed that the next sector to follow the footsteps of financial technology in driving the growth of technology startups would be retail.

“London has a reputation for excellence in financial services and the creative industries, and technology is already disrupting and re-defining these areas. Indeed, fintech has given London’s digital sector a global platform to showcase the city’s unique skills and innovation,” said TLA founder Russ Shaw.

“I am now calling upon the business community to support our future high-growth verticals. With retail tech at the forefront, from fashion tech to food tech, clean tech to cyber tech, we are seeing emerging specialisms with the potential to transform the tech landscape in the capital yet again.”

But many still point to fintech as an area of success for London, with 86% claiming it is the only sector that London has a global competitive advantage in.

Retail technology was chosen as the next possible growth area due to the number of accelerators and expertise already in place in London, and due to the impact that retail has directly on consumers across the capital.

Stephen Millard, founder of Eccomplished and lead of the TLA RetailTech working group, said: “London is already the retail technology capital of the world. Nowhere else has such consolidation of expertise, knowledge and accelerators all focused on driving growth in this sector. There is no doubt future world-beating retail technology companies are already operating in the city today.”

Other areas of growth to focus on include the already thriving fintech sector and the internet of things, according to the TLA.

Read more about retail technology

  • Finalists of the John Lewis JLab retail technology accelerator explain what experience they have gained on the programme
  • Retailers know consumers are becoming more mobile and want an omni-channel experience, but customers still seek more

But a shortfall of talent in the technology sector continues to be a concern, with 43% of TLA members citing a lack of skilled IT workers as the main obstacle facing the growth of the digital industry in the future.

“London’s technology sector continues to lead Europe in terms of innovation, creativity and business growth. No other city is capable of consistently producing digital businesses of scale,” said TechUK president Jacqueline de Rojas.

“To achieve our goal of becoming a world leading digital economy, we must now look beyond London to deliver the benefits of a fast-growing, productive tech sector right across the UK. The growing diversity of digital specialisms across the UK is testament to the unique relationship we have cultivated between private, public and financial sectors,” she added.

Read more on IT for retail and logistics

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