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Drapers Digital Awards: Startups shortlist

From visual searches to digital wholesaling, meet the six firms shortlisted in the Best Tech Startup category at next month’s Drapers Digital Awards.

Cortexica

  • Co-founders Anil Anthony Bharath and Jeffrey Ng (Ng is no longer with the business)
  • Website & launch Cortexica.com, 2009
  • FindSimilar software launch 2013


Capitalising on consumers’ desire to find more affordable versions of styles seen on the catwalk, an advertisement or worn by a celebrity, Cortexica allows retailers to integrate visual search technology into their website and app.

The company’s exact match technology was launched in 2009, and under chief executive Ian McCready it introduced FindSimilar in 2014. Once retailers have integrated the technology on their website or app, shoppers can take photos of clothing which will then be matched to similar items offered by the retailer, by garment type, pattern or colour.

Retailers are charged depending on their size and the number of images used.

McCready says the technology’s ability to funnel browsing shoppers onto websites has attracted large etailers into signing up.

Carsten Ernst, product manager for mobile apps at German etailer Zalando, integrated the technology last October and says that even without advertising it “a couple of thousand people” have already tried it on the iPhone platform.

Dressipi

Dressipi was born out of Sarah McVittie and Donna North’s frustration with online shopping. Feeling that consumers were being bombarded with too much choice, had too little time and not enough knowledge on product information to make good shopping decisions, the pair set up the technology business and free recommendations service in 2011.

Users can create a fashion profile on the retailer’s website based on their body shape, size, style and brand preferences. The technology uses in-house algorithms to give shoppers a tailored selection of products and outfits that best suit them.

Dressipi provides its personalisation technology to a number of retailers. Those embedding the service on their website include Shop Direct Group, Arcadia Group and M&S. Retailers are charged on a trail basis and pay a monthly license fee based on number of components licensed.

Beverley Imrie, digital director of womenswear chain Wallis, says the benefit of Dressipi’s style adviser service is that “it replicates the style
advice our customers receive in store, onto our website”.

SpinMe

  • Co-founders David Brint and John Warner
  • Website & launch Spinme.co.uk, 2009
  • SpinMe Studio Enterprise software launch 2014

 

SpinMe’s software aims to help retailers edit and manage thousands of product images to use on transactional websites.

In 2014 the image specialist launched its latest software - SpinMe Studio Enterprise.

It allows retailers to quickly search the database of their products photographed and managed by SpinMe Studio. Multi-camera tethering enables users to simultaneously shoot images using up to four cameras, while multi-row image adjustments allow them to correct lighting issues by altering rows, frames and entire spins.

Brands can display merchandise in the most sophisticated way, suggests co-founder David Brint. Consumers are provided with as close to a
‘touch and feel’ experience as possible, allowing them to take control of an image, zoom in and view from numerous angles, all with excellent clarity. Selfridges, Schuh, Bhs and flash Sales site Vente-privee are among some of its 74 retail clients.

Vente-privee co-founder Ilan Benhaim says the technology has boosted customers’ confidence, improving conversion rates and reducing returns as shoppers get a better idea of the product: “Our workflow is more efficient and we’ve minimised the need for post-production.”

SalesGossip

  • Co-founders Elizabetta Camilleri and Emilio Sanz
  • Website & launch Salesgossip.co.uk, 2012
  • iOS app launch 2014
  • Android app launch 2015

 

SalesGossip gathers fashion and beauty promotions running in the UK, both online and in store, to give shoppers first-look access while
on the go.

Its mobile app uses in-house algorithms to scour the web to find sales and promotions. Users set up a profile and SalesGossip sends email alerts when a discount of interest is available. Users can search by brand, location and product type.

SalesGossip also offers brands and retailers with a data service. It has a database of almost 800,000 shoppers and can provide shopping analytics. It supplies retailers with performance reports (for brands stocked and for their own promotions), shopping behaviour insights and benchmarking information after every campaign.

Ted Baker, Reiss, Belstaff and Marks & Spencer are some of the fashion companies that have run marketing campaigns with SalesGossip.
Kateryna Lanhe, ecommerce manager (UK, Asia and rest of Europe) at Spanish retailer Desigual, says: “In our three-month collaboration with SalesGossip, we raised brand awareness in the UK and increased our customer database by 35%.”

Prices range from £1,000 for a one-off placement to £100,000 for a full campaign.

Poq Studio

  • Co-founders Øyvind Henriksen, Jun Seki and Michael Langguth
  • Website & launch Poqstudio.com, 2011
  • Software-as-a-service launch 2012

 

Poq Studio is an etail platform for native retail apps [designed to run on a specific platform or device]. It aims to change the way retailers build their apps and remove dependency on third-party providers.

It runs on one multi-tenant cloud platform and allows retailers to simply customise their app’s look and feel using the Poq content management system. By doing so, retailers can cut costs and avoid the technical issues associated with traditional app development.

The technology now powers more than 30 UK retailers’ apps, including Moda in Pelle, Blue Inc, Radley and House of Fraser.

HoF executive director of multichannel Andy Harding praises Poq for helping to build the company’s new Android app in just 12 weeks, in time for Christmas. “Our work with Poq included the first-ever Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns, as well as a record-breaking Christmas category, which until recently has not been possible,” he says.

Poq ‘s software is licensed on a subscription basis, dependent on requirements.

Grabble

  • Co-founders Daniel Murray and Joel Freeman
  • Website & launch Grabble.com, 2013
  • App launch 2014

 

Described by founders Daniel Murray and Joel Freeman as the “Tinder of fashion”, Grabble was initially launched as a desktop site, but the team quickly realised shoppers were migrating to m-commerce, so they switched to a mobile app last October.

This February, it secured £1.2m of funding from angel investors.

Murray describes Grabble as a user-friendly interface which provides consumers with a tool to ‘grab’ product on the go. Users can browse by price, brand, colour or style, swiping left or right to indicate whether to discard or ‘grab’ an item. Once an item is ‘grabbed’ it is added to a ‘My collections’ list, which users can click on to be redirected to the retailer’s site to buy.

Grabble hosts product from more than 1,500 brands and retailers. Asos.com, Topshop and Net-A-Porter are all live on the app.

Pablo Barclay, founder of footwear etailer Rubbersole, says of working with Grabble: “Return on investment has been great, easily justifiable and without having to create our own app.”

Retailers pay a one-off admin fee of £99 to join and there are three monthly payment options from £55 to £195 per month. Commission is charged on retailers’ sales.

There is also a pay-as-you-go model.

WGSN INstock

  • Founders Duncan Painter, Jose Papa, Sansan Chen and Helen Slaven
  • Website & launch Wgsninstock.com, 2013

 

WGSN INstock is an online analytics system launched by global trend forecaster WGSN to help retailers with in-season buying and trading decisions. It lets retailers compare in-season stock across multiple brands, search and source product ranges, pricing and stock levels in the UK and North America to better inform their buying and merchandising decisions. It reports on more than 4 million products and more than 40 million SKUs daily. Users can search the ecommerce product lines of more than 12,000 global brands and retailers, including Asda, Marks & Spencer and Next, and filter the results by price, date, colour and category.

Retailers are able to forward plan by tracking rivals’ products, promotions and markdowns.

The site runs an annual subscription whereby retailers sign up for a number of logins. There is also an on-demand data service.

Like Drapers, WGSN INstock is part of Top Right Group.

ReChannel

  • Co-founders Miriam Cooper and Luke Thomson
  • Website & launch Rechannel.co.uk, 2012
  • Tablet launch 2014

 

Managing the wholesale process can be a struggle. The endless admin-juggling of last-minute samples and buying appointments are just a few of the constraints that led Luke Thomson, who worked for a venture capital firm until 2012, and Miriam Cooper, former womenswear buyer at Harrods, to co-found ReChannel.

ReChannel is designed to simplify and digitise wholesale transactions, making it easier for stockists to order the latest lines from designers and brands. It aims to shorten the ordering process, enabling brands to share their collections with unlimited retailers anytime and anywhere. Customised line sheets can be sent to multiple retailers in any currency or language. Buyers log in, browse the uploaded stock and select items they wish to buy.

More than 2,500 brands use ReChannel, including Goldie London, Wyldr and Orlebar Brown.

Goldie London sales and marketing manager Samantha Marchant says the platform has helped to attract new customers in Europe and the US: “Customers don’t need to go to our showrooms - they can see the product anywhere and have instant access to our most current collections.”

ReChannel charges a one-off set-up fee and a monthly licence fee, which varies depending on the number of wholesale accounts the brand has.

 

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