Innovation technology and success concept

Nothing is better at sucking the life out an innovative startup that has just gone to market than the three-legged, blindfold, vertical climb that is the game of selling to retailers. The innovation hubs of London are haunted by the broken spirits of company founders once described as innovators and game changers, who are a year or more past the early glory days when they had their first handful of clients but have since somehow ground to a halt.

The answer as to how this situation came about is to be found by looking at the world from the other side of the fence, where the retailers live. In seeking tech answers to their biggest challenges, they look out into the world for solutions and find nothing but complexity, confusion, hype and hubris. The tech market has never been more crowded, competitive and noisy with the result that the retailer cannot possibly create a perfect long list of suspects to review. Even where they commit to a pilot, the number that make it to full roll out is very small.

Some of the bigger retailers have tried to solve the problem by creating their own labs, either internally or through an external agency. From where I am standing, this has had limited success in terms of the number of start-ups that have made it through the subsequent selection process, through the initial pilot and finally through to a full rollout. I believe the lab model will rapidly fall out of favour with many retailers, labs are very resource intensive and have had limited success. It is creating yet another silo inside the retailer that is not able to transfer the tech successfully into the core of the business.

Bigger, more established vendors have the market profile, funds and experience to play the traditional marketing and sales game, but for smaller companies and start-ups (the ones with the game changing technology), there has to be a better way. We put our money where our mouth is by creating an environment designed to remove the harshness of the traditional beauty parade and tender process which generally favours procurement rather than creativity, and replaced it with a panel comprised of retailers also committed to doing things in a different way.

Validify’s Retail Panel members are prepared to listen to presentations from emerging retail technology vendors, giving them valuable feedback, enabling them to communicate more effectively to retailers. But crucially also enabling the panel members themselves to get behind the sales and marketing curtain and see the solutions and the founders up close and personal.

This process removes all the heaviest pressures from the process, including time and stress, and gets back to where retailers really want to be, accessing innovation that has been curated by a specialist just for them.