Recently an exciting 12-week incubator program lead by R/GA Venture and Westfield Labs concluded. This incubator was designed to help new start-ups develop their brand, technology, and business models. The ten participating companies all presented innovative new ways to make eCommerce and traditional brick and mortar commerce work together more seamlessly.
From these ten start-ups, a wide range of new technologies and creative ways to provide better service for clients of both eCommerce and traditional stores were presented. Everything from Artificial Intelligence (AI) customer service to online return services with a physical location to bring your returns to. Some of these companies even landed new contracts or funding.
Happy Returns was one of the start-up participants who is starting to build a network of “return bars” allowing customers to more easily return an item they purchased online. They’ve been able to do away with the hassle of mail returns by placing kiosk type bars in malls where customers can conveniently return unwanted items. At the conclusion of the incubator, they announced an expansion within several Westfield Malls.
Another start-up, Darkstore, provides same day shipping for multiple online clients such as Tuft + Needle, Peel and several others. Their initial warehouse facility was in the San Francisco area but announce the expansion to New York City and Phoenix.
Other companies included: Reply.ai, designed to make automated customer service a more pleasant for the customer. Oak, which plans s to use AI make your instore experience more positive by using it to predict movements within the store. Agent Q, an AI company that helps to “super power your agents.”
These are only a few of the highlights of what was announced at the close of the “Connected Commerce Accelerator.” There are some very exciting new technologies to merge the ecommerce driven world with the traditional brick world and savvy brick and mortar stores are taking notice. Partners for this project included Macy’s, Bank of America, Walmart and Verizon.
In the past brick and mortar stores that did not adapt to changing technologies got left behind and soon found themselves no longer in business. It is no surprise that these companies have shown interest in these up and coming start-ups. It will be exciting to see what these start-ups are able to come up with in the future.