30 disruptive retail technology ventures

30 disruptive retail technology ventures

You asked and we listened. Our top 10 ‘retail technology startups to watch in 2018’ articles have been hugely popular. They’re great, you said, but they would be even better in one place and divided into categories (e-commerce, payments, in-store etc). So, here you go, dear reader: 30 disruptive retail technology ventures set to make waves this year



Catchoom recently launched a new fashion-specific AI solution.

The venture says that DeepProducts helps retailers boost SEO and save operational costs thanks to its rich automated product descriptions. It also provides visual recommendations to customers based on similar-looking items. DeepProducts is able to classify items and provide relevant results down to the most sophisticated details, such as neck styles or shoe heel type.


GreenJinn has come up with a cashback app that’s using artificial intelligence to create the next generation of mobile couponing.

“We’ve noticed that many existing systems for saving money are inefficient and time consuming for the users. Offers are often irrelevant to them and are usually on obscure products. We plan to change the face of couponing to become simple, fast and useful using our AI powered technology,” says CEO and Co-founder, Giuseppe Licari.

Bricks and mortar retail

DeepBlue Technology

Japanese retailer, Aeon, is set to work with Chinese startup, DeepBlue Technology, which counts Alibaba Group as an investor.

The venture has developed a smart store system called Take and Go, tapping the likes of fusion sensors, machine learning algorithms and biometric security technology. Aeon will invest $1 million, taking a 65% stake. It is planning to use DeepBlue's tech to develop its own unstaffed small-format stores as well as smart shopping malls.


In a recent interview with RTIH, Martin Wild, Chief Innovation Officer at MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, revealed that collaboration, via its technology accelerator, is beginning with store2be. The startup markets vacant promotional and sales areas in shopping centres, shops and other premises like gyms and cinemas. store2be is now offering spaces in MediaMarkt and Saturn stores.


US startup, AiFi, recently emerged from stealth with a scalable checkout-free solution. Using its AI technology, sensor and camera networks and seamless system integration, AiFi says that it is already working with one of the world’s largest retailers to create its offering on “a massive scale”.

Steve Gu, CEO, AiFi, comments: “The shopping experience now demonstrated and widely promoted by Amazon is just the tiniest taste of what the AiFi technology will do for retailers, with shops that range from tiny to huge. Our pilot will roll-out in one very large store, orders of magnitude bigger than the Amazon Go store, at the end of this year, with many more large stores to follow so thousands of consumers will experience the delight of no longer standing in long and tedious checkout lines.”

Deep learning systems

Aura Vision Labs

Aura Vision Labs recently announced that it was progressing from the University of Southampton’s Future Worlds incubator and joining the Collider accelerator, after completing a £100,000 seed investment deal.

The venture has developed a deep learning system that can detect the gender, age and clothing styles of every person in a crowd. It uses computer vision and biometric identification techniques to analyse CCTV video footage, producing insights into customer behaviour that can help boost sales performance and loyalty. Further details here.



RTIH recently interviewed Martin Wild, Chief Innovation Officer at MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, who discussed projects with various startups at its technology accelerator. One of these involved weview, a platform for video reviews of products. “Our customers are now able to watch product reviews by weview members directly on MediaMarkt.de,” said Wild. 


Slidr uses a model that combines online shopping and gamification to give users discounts on luxury items and the latest high-end gadgets through a crowd discounting model. The company is part of a London accelerator programme co-ordinated by the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, a joint initiative by Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s Central Bank) and the UK government. 


BotNation creates chatbots on messaging apps, voice apps and websites. It has been selected by Arsenal for its Innovation Lab programme, helping the football club provide support with purchases on the ArsenalDirect e-commerce store. The service is currently used by 700 companies in 53 countries. 


Tooso transforms e-commerce search engines into AI shopping assistants that adapt in real-time to the needs and the preferences of shoppers.


Tofugear recently worked with Japanese lingerie retailer Peach John. It helped the company, originally a mail order business, enter the Taiwanese market with a store and an app. Peach John reports that it sold through three months of its top SKUs within a week, while the app was downloaded 40,000 times.


Omnifi is a specialist digital agency, “creating better connected spaces with forward thinking clients since 2014”. Customers include cocktail bar specialist Be At One who teamed with Omnifi to relaunch its digital presence.


Smartzer builds interactive videos to enhance e-commerce experiences and provides clients with detailed data and analytics. The company’s clients include Kohl's, Marks and Spencer, Puma and Barbour. 

Read our interview with Karoline Gross, Founder of Smartzer, here.


Poq has created an app development platform, which is sold to its customers on a SaaS basis. In The Style recently worked with the company on the launch of a iOS shopping app. Other clients include House of Fraser and MADE.com.

Read our interview with Øyvind Henriksen, CEO & Co-founder, Poq, here.


EyeFitU provides personal sizing recommendations to users, across the likes of Net-a-Porter, Asos and River Island. The aim of the platform is to remove the stress of shopping (brought about by global inconsistencies in sizing), reduce returns rates and, ultimately, bring fun back into the shopping experience. 

Check out our interview with Founder and CEO, Isabelle Ohnemus, here

Identity platforms


Yoti is on a mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform. “The current identity system is outdated and broken,” CEO and co-founder, Robin Tombs, recently told RTIH.

Location intelligence


Geoblink is a Spanish venture who Bloomberg cited last year as ‘one of the promising startups in the world’. It is now expanding into the UK following some significant successes. Check out our interview with CEO and Founder, Jamie Sanchez-Laulhe, here.

Machine learning


Increasingly taps machine learning to predict, personalise and target customers with automated product bundles in stores.

Highlights include being shortlisted with Travis Perkins for Best Use of AI at the 2018 Performance Marketing Awards. The venture also recently made it to the final of Retail Week’s 2018 Launchpad@Live competition.

Mobile retail


Ubamarket’s white label mobile shopping solution is launching in Warner’s Budgens stores across Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. A UK-wide deployment is set to take place in association with payment solutions supplier HTEC, part of Universe Group, whose portfolio of stores includes Morrisons, Budgens, Nisa and Spar. London and Manchester are next in line after the aforementioned first roll-out, which follows a trial phase at Budgens, Moreton in Marsh. 


GrokStyle was recently selected by Ikea to power visual search for the retailer’s Ikea Place augmented reality app

The company launched in 2015, based on research conducted in Cornell University’s Computer Science Department by founders Dr. Sean Bell and Prof. Kavita Bala. It was selected as one of the 100 most promising AI companies in the world in 2017 by CB Insights and won the 2016 LDV Vision Summit Entrepreneurial Challenge.

Online delivery


Click & Collect venture, HubBox, was recently named as Retail Week’s 2018 Launchpad@Live winner. It beat machine learning outfit, Increasingly, and video content specialist, Smartzer, to pick up the prize. Read our interview with this fast moving startup here.


Returnado makes it easier for consumers to return their online shopping items and re-convert to new ones. Through the platform, they can handle their returns, exchanges, refunds and complaints.

Omnichannel retail


Based in London and Los Angeles and founded in 2015, Wisher is a social platform, with its Wish Factory pitched as a one of a kind pop-up experience where customers can try out products and add them to mobile wish lists. Brands in turn can track data and convert sales. “I’m a bit of a hippy at heart,” Maz Cohen, Founder and CEO, told RTIH in a recent interview. 


Cerebel’s conversational search platform helps fashion brands and retailers to create engaging voice experiences for all their distribution channels.


The Good Till Company

The Good Till Company aims to disrupt the legacy PoS technology market with a solution that combines SaaS-based sales, analytics and management capabilities with iPad hardware. Working alongside integration partners such as Xero, Quickbooks and Woo-commerce, the venture, which launched in 2014, has built a customer base of over 1,200 outlets, including Regus, Philip Morris, Northampton Saints Rugby Club, Cafe2U and Royal British Legion.


We all hate queues, but Vaidas Adomauskas really hates them. So much so that he co-founded WoraPay to address this ever present in-store problem. Check out our interview with him here.


Nuggets is a blockchain e-commerce payments and ID platform. Alastair Johnson, CEO and Founder, recently told RTIH about the origins of the company, and his quest to banish passwords and change the way we shop.


Earlier this year, Founder of Tossed, Vincent McKevitt, along with the company’s Financial Director Neil Sebba, injected an undisclosed amount of cash into PayTech venture, Thyngs, as part of a £300,000 crowdfunding round.

Check out our Q&A with Dr. Neil Garner, Founder of Thyngs, here.

Supply chain


Nextail has come up with a cloud-based platform that applies artificial intelligence to inventory management. Two years on from its launch, the venture made it onto the CB Insights list of startups transforming retail. Nextail currently operates in Spain, Russia, Italy, Brazil and the UK. Its clients are fashion and cosmetics retailers including Kiko Milano, Stefanel and Melon Fashion Group.

Buy Buddy

Buy Buddy is the maker of Hitag, a smart apparel shopping tag and connected analytics platform that help retailers manage their inventories, customer behaviours and employee efficiencies.

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