Brick-and-mortar retail is a high-stakes business. And, while it might seem as if e-commerce has taken over, Americans still do roughly 90% of our shopping in physical stores. In fact, one of the latest trends in retail is the launch of physical stores by digital-native companies, including Amazon, Bonobos, and Warby Parker.
To help retailers bridge the gap between digital and physical commerce, and keep up with e-commerce competitors, dozens of startups have developed in-store technology ranging from shelf-stocking robots, to augmented reality displays, to Wi-Fi-based beacons that collect data on shopper behavior.
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.
Using CB Insights data, we identified startups enhancing the in-store experience with digital tools. Our market map spans companies targeting retailers broadly, including apparel and luxury retailers, grocery stores, and department stores. 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.