The Retail Tech 100 is CB Insights' annual ranking of the 100 most promising B2B retail tech companies in the world. This year's winning companies include startups working on e-commerce infrastructure, supply chain automation, cashierless checkout, and more.
CB Insights’ first annual Retail Tech 100 winners include private, active business-to-business (B2B) retail tech companies from 21 countries across 13 overarching categories. These companies are reimagining the traditional retail experience and will help retailers adapt to a post-Covid world.
Using the CB Insights platform, our research team picked these 100 companies out of nearly 15,000 applicants and nominees, based on factors including patent activity, business relations, investor profiles, news sentiment analysis, proprietary Mosaic scores, market potential, competitive landscape, team strength, and tech novelty.
For a look at deals, financing, and themes in key retail tech sectors, download our 2020 State Of Retail Tech report here.
Companies are categorized by their main focus. Categories in the market map below are not mutually exclusive. Please click to enlarge.
Table of contents
- 2020 Retail Tech 100 highlights
- Leading categories and trends
- Definition and methodology: CB Insights datasets
2020 Retail Tech 100 highlights
The 2020 Retail Tech 100 cohort comprises a broad range of private tech companies — from well-funded ones commercializing their products and expanding into new markets, to companies forming business relationships with key industry players, to early-stage startups developing novel solutions.
Here are the highlights:
- The 2020 Retail Tech 100 companies have raised over $14.8B in total equity funding across 400+ deals from 700+ unique investors. 54 of these companies have raised funding rounds in 2020 year-to-date (as of 11/20/20), amounting to $4.7B in total.
- The list includes 19 unicorns (private companies valued at $1B+) focused on a diverse range of retail tech solutions. One unicorn on the list is Faire (valued at $2.5B as of October 2020), a wholesale marketplace that brings predictive analytics and customer-centric policies to local shop owners. Another is Mirakl ($1.5B as of September 2020), which enables retailers to launch and manage their own marketplaces. Meanwhile, unicorn Nuro ($5B as of November 2020) develops a robotic self-driving vehicle to facilitate last-mile deliveries.
- There are 21 early-stage startups (seed/angel and Series A) in this year’s cohort. These include Hero, which helps connect online shoppers with store associates via messages and video chats, and Lolli, a shopper rewards platform enabling brands and retailers to offer customers cash back in the form of bitcoin.
- We are seeing companies enabling e-commerce platforms from multiple angles as a dominant theme. This includes solutions that focus on increasing page load speed and enabling single-click checkout, as well as those that open new online channels such as text messages, video chat, voice, and augmented reality.
- Store automation is accelerating as demand for contactless and safe shopping continues to grow. Mobile or computer vision-based cashierless checkout solutions such as MishiPay and Standard Cognition are helping reduce human interactions while allowing for faster and shorter shopping trips. At the same time, retailers are increasingly using robots and mobile-based AR tools to automate shelf-scanning.
- A majority of companies are based in North America (59%), followed by Asia (21%), Europe (16%), and Latin America (4%). Among countries, the US leads with 55 companies.
Leading categories and trends
This year’s Retail Tech 100 companies are working on tech and software-enabled solutions across 13 core categories.
- E-commerce infrastructure is a leading category in the 2020 cohort, with 12 winners. These companies provide retailers with the necessary tools to build and add features to their e-commerce channels, such as by facilitating mobile and social commerce.
- Store operations & analytics is another leading category on this year’s list, with 12 companies developing a wide array of solutions from robots to AR/VR to automate and improve store operations.
- Robotic fulfillment service providers use robotic hardware and software to automate the order fulfillment process. They are rapidly gaining market traction and have seen accelerated demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This category also comprises 9 companies.
- Merchandising & inventory management solutions offer easier access to product data and more accurate demand forecasting. They also simplify wholesale buying for smaller shops. This category accounts for 8 companies in this year’s cohort.
Thematics & trends
The 2020 Retail Tech 100 list is representative of many of the key thematics and trends we expect to see across retail in 2021. Below, we highlight some of these along with examples from this year’s cohort.
- Demand for e-commerce enablement solutions has soared among brands and retailers as the Covid-19 crisis forces more retail online. This will likely accelerate in 2021 as competitive pressures intensify in the e-commerce space. On this year’s list, a total of 42 startups offer e-commerce enablement solutions. The most prevalent subcategories in this group are:
- E-commerce platforms & features: This subcategory includes headless commerce solutions such as Commercetools and Fabric that facilitate the addition of new online channels by using APIs. This space is likely to gain momentum as retailers explore new forms of e-commerce such as message- or voice-based shopping.
- Payment & checkout solutions: This includes “buy now pay later” solutions such as Klarna and Paidy, which aim to boost online conversion rates, as well as platforms like Checkout.com and dLocal, which make it easier to accept international payments.
- Retailers’ ability to personalize discovery and make online buying easier has become a key differentiator as online sales soar. A total of 20 companies on the list offer services to analyze and optimize the online customer journey for greater sales conversion rates and reduced product returns. Subcategories include:
- Store automation has been a growing priority for retailers in recent years. This will accelerate even more into 2021 as minimizing human contact and fulfilling online orders remain key priorities. This year’s Retail Tech 100 includes 19 companies that provide services to reduce or eliminate human intervention at checkout, identify out-of-stock items, ensure planogram compliance, and more.
- Robotization of the supply chain is helping retailers add process efficiencies as they shift toward e-commerce. For this year’s list, we selected 13 companies that use robots to fulfill and deliver online orders. These cover areas like:
- Grocery retailers have signed more partnerships with this year’s Retail Tech 100 companies than any other type of retailer. Fashion retailers and department stores have also formed numerous partnerships with this cohort.
- The majority of the business relationships formed by grocery retailers are with companies offering last-mile delivery (e.g. Glovo and Carrefour), cashierless checkout (e.g. Grabango and Giant Eagle), and robotic fulfillment services (e.g. TakeOff Technologies and Albertsons).
- Walmart has signed the most partnerships with this year’s cohort out of all retailers, followed by Albertsons.
The companies in the 2020 Retail Tech 100 cohort represent 21 countries. US-based startups dominate the list, accounting for 55% of the companies here.
The cohort also reflects a number of emerging retail tech hubs:
- India: The 6 India-based companies on the list include Shadowfax and FarEye, both of which provide delivery services. Udaan, another on the list, offers a B2B online marketplace for small retailers.
- China: All 5 China-based companies featured on the list use artificial intelligence technology to provide services to retailers. This includes cashierless checkout solutions from Malong Technologies and SandStar, as well as self-driving delivery vehicles by Neolix.
- Canada: There are 4 companies based in Canada in the 2020 cohort, including Coveo (cognitive search) and ATTAbotics (robotic fulfillment).
- UK: The 4 UK-based companies on this year’s list focus on payments (Checkout.com, Rapyd), as well as mobile solutions for cashierless checkout (MishiPay) and store operations (YOOBIC).
- Singapore: Last-mile delivery solution provider Ninja Van is the most well-funded of the 4 Retail Tech 100 companies based in Singapore, having raised $399M in total funding, followed by GreyOrange Robotics (robotic fulfillment) with $179M.
Definition and methodology: CB Insights datasets
We define “retail tech” to include any technology company that supports or enables the selling of consumer products (excluding events, travel, gas) to consumers. This includes enablement of merchandising, shopper marketing, operations, and order fulfillment in stores, online, and across other retail channels, such as:
- In-store retail tech
- E-commerce enablement
- New retail format enablement
- Supply chain tech for mid- and last-mile fulfillment
- Shopper loyalty & rewards tech
Only private, active B2B companies matching our definition of retail tech have been considered. This list excludes auto retail.
The Retail Tech 100 selections are the result of a rigorous, data-informed process, combining CB Insights datasets with our research team’s industry expertise.
The datasets and insights from CB Insights’ tech market intelligence platform that were leveraged to pick finalists include:
- Patent Analytics to assess a company’s R&D strength and direction.
- Company Mosaic Scores to evaluate startup health. These are based on our National Science Foundation-backed algorithm that assesses a company’s health using 3 metrics: Market (how healthy is the industry the company is in?), Money (what is the financial health of the company?), and Momentum (how much traction does the company have?).
- Business Relationships to identify partnerships and client-vendor relationships.
- Market Sizing Tools to assess growth opportunities and demand for the tech.
- Earnings Transcripts Search Engine & Analytics to identify key focus areas as well as bottlenecks for corporations.
- Competitor Data to assess tech novelty, market strength, and competitive landscape.
- News Trends for sentiment analysis.
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This report was created with data from CB Insights’ emerging technology insights platform, which offers clarity into emerging tech and new business strategies through tools like:
- Earnings Transcripts Search Engine & Analytics to get an information edge on competitors’ and incumbents’ strategies
- Patent Analytics to see where innovation is happening next
- Company Mosaic Scores to evaluate startup health, based on our National Science Foundation-backed algorithm
- Business Relationships to quickly see a company’s competitors, partners, and more
- Market Sizing Tools to visualize market growth and spot the next big opportunity