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John Lewis invests in two startups from accelerator programme

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

27 Nov 2017


The John Lewis Partnership has announced a 100,000 pounds investment in two innovative tech startups following success in the retailer's fourth annual accelerator programme, JLAB, the largest retail tech accelerator programme in the UK.

The JLAB scheme is run in partnership with L Marks, which will match the 100,000 pounds investment from John Lewis and Waitrose, bringing the total startup funding to 200,000 pounds.

The two startups are Exaactly, an intelligent addressing system that aims to put an end to failed deliveries, and WeFiFo, known as the AirBnB for the kitchen table it connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests.

Exaactly impressed during the accelerator programme after two successful trials with delivery drivers, fulfilling orders to customers: the first with Waitrose groceries and their own fleet; the second in collaboration with Yodel, fulfilling orders for Waitrose speciality shops. Exaactly are now planning a similar exercise with John Lewis to explore the potential to help guarantee first-time customer delivery success.

Bea Warner, co-founder and chief executive of Exaactly said: “JLAB has given us a peek behind the curtain of two of the country's biggest retailers and an invaluable insight into how they handle delivery.

“The opportunity to run two pilots across the Partnership has equipped us with the product know-how we needed to make that final mile of delivery even more straightforward for consumers and retailers. The investment signifies a big step for our business as we prepare for a full launch to market in early January 2018.”

JLAB accelerator programme chooses two startups for investment

Both startup chosen for investment fought off strong competition from 300 other businesses and involved intensive pitch and demonstration days in front of a senior judging panel made up of industry experts from both John Lewis and Waitrose. Waitrose joined John Lewis for the first time this year, broadening opportunities to the food retail sector. Each startup will receive financial investment to help them grow their businesses.

Paul Coby, chief information officer at the John Lewis Partnership, added: “All our finalists have benefitted greatly from unprecedented access to two of the UK's leading retailers. The wider scope of JLAB this year has allowed us to bring together some of the most exciting emerging technology, not just in retail but across grocery too. It's never been more important for the John Lewis Partnership to nurture innovation both inside and outside our business and we are looking forward to progressing this talent.”

The three other JLAB 2017 finalists were: Mucho, a smart grocery shopping app which provides daily personalised recipes and enables customers to order ingredients when needed. During JLAB, Mucho trialled their Click and Collect solution with Partners at the Waitrose Bressenden Place branch, based on ingredients for recipes curated from their app and personalised to the user.

Journifi, which links online and in-store shopping by providing customers with personalised in-store experiences such as tailored personal shopper sessions based on their online behaviour and tastes. They will continuing to work with the John Lewis Partnership Group Customer Insight team to explore how they can help support the Partnership's customer service proposition.

The final start-up was BB1, a data analytics solution that uses customer behaviour to help businesses optimise their ways of working, monitoring an assortment of variables such as customer footfall. BB1 successfully used their data to model the customer flow dynamics in and around the Waitrose Cambridge branch during the day, how this changes over the course of a year and flows around the city if a competitor opens.

Image: courtesy of JLAB/John Lewis Partnership

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