Startups are outfitting retailers with augmented reality, beacons, wearables, and more to bridge the gap between digital and physical shopping.
Brick-and-mortar retail is a high-stakes business. And while it may seem that e-commerce is taking over, Americans still do roughly 90% of their shopping in physical stores.
In fact, one of the latest trends in retail is the launch of physical stores by digital-native companies such as Bonobos and Warby Parker. Amazon, of course, has blurred the lines even further with its launch of brick-and-mortar bookstores and its acquisition of Whole Foods.
To help retailers bridge the gap between digital and physical commerce, and to keep up with e-commerce competitors, dozens of startups are focusing on in-store technology ranging from shelf-stocking robots, to augmented reality displays, to Wi-Fi-based beacons that collect shopper behavior data.
Many companies focus on optimizing existing store operations with the injection of cloud-based software and mobile apps, helping retailers manage things like employee scheduling, mobile payments, coupons, and shelf stocking.
Others have paved entirely new paths for data collection and shopper engagement. Startups in the most crowded categories in the market map, specifically location analytics & proximity marketing, use IoT hardware and/or smartphone-sensing software to track shoppers throughout the store.
Others leverage frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented / virtual reality, and robotics. InContext Solutions, for example, helps retailers and brands plan better store layouts and displays in virtual reality, while Satisfi leverages AI from IBM Watson to develop real-time, in-store chatbots for retailers.
On the far end of the technology spectrum, startups such as BingoBox and F5 Future Store have launched fully automated convenience stores in China, which rely on smartphone scanning and eliminate the need for any human staff.
Using CB Insights data, we identified over 200 startups enhancing the in-store experience with digital tools and sorted them by 24 subcategories. Our market map spans companies targeting retailers broadly, including apparel and luxury retailers, grocery stores, and department stores. Our market map includes private, active companies only.
We previously looked at startups serving grocery businesses here (many of which are included in this map), and separately looked at startups serving restaurants here. Scroll down to view the infographic and read more about the categories we identified.
This market map is not meant to be exhaustive of companies in the space. Categories are not mutually exclusive. Please click to enlarge.