03.07.2016 By: Tulip Retail

Retail and Tech Stacking Up to Make it Big

As originally seen on Canadian Technology Accelerators

Canada has been making waves in NYC retail. In January 2016, the Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) – that has its origins in the fur trade in the 17th century, well before Canada was a country – acquired NYC’s Gilt Groupe for a cool $250 million.

The move points to a recurring trend balancing out the exuberance for a digital-only approach to retail: brick and mortar matters.

More than 90 percent of all retail sales in North America still happens in a retail store.

And, Forrester projects that the single biggest portion of retail sales in the near future is going to be “digitally-influenced offline sales”. Rather than upending traditional retail, tech companies poised for success are stacking up with established brands to enable “omni-channel growth” where the customers interacts with a store across many channels, including mobile, online and the physical store.

HBC Logo

Powerhouse HBC owns and operates retail locations throughout North America and Europe including iconic Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Following in the footsteps of fast-growing retail newcomers Rent The Runway and Warby Parker, Gilt customers will be able to shop in-store and Saks Off 5th “concept” shops. The acquisition will also make it possible for Gilt customers to return purchases to Saks locations, a clear drive to leverage the value of increasing in foot-traffic.

The Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) Digital Tech run by the Consulate General of Canada in New York, is one of nine in the US that helps high-growth Canadian tech companies gain market traction in the US, by connecting them to investors, potential partners and clients. Here are three CTA NYC Digital Tech companies that are partnering with Big Apple brands to win the hearts and wallets of their end customers: focuses on selling all publishers’ “unsold” inventory– the ads not sold by top-tier sales teams.

Tulip Retail’s mission is to work with retailers like Coach and Toys “R” Us, whose vision is to blend the online, mobile, and in-store experience to create a truly omni-channel experience for consumers. They do this by empowering store associates with access to the entire product catalog and inventory; the ability to complete omni-channel transactions, and by performing advanced clienteling from anywhere in the store using the iPad Mini or iPod Touch.

Photo of Ali Asaria Looking Spiffy
Ali Asaria, Founder and CEO of Tulip Retail, sees the challenge traditional retail is facing as an opportunity rather than a threat.

“Before Tulip, customers were walking into stores with more information on their phones than the store associates had,” Asaria says.

Tulip’s work with traditional retailers is not to the exclusion of newer brands such as Frank & Oak and Bonobos, who sought Tulip out as they moved from an online-only paradigm to brick and mortar.

These ecommerce-first retailers naturally understand the importance of equipping associates with the information that consumers have on their mobile devices.
Tulip’s success in NYC speaks for itself.

The company is now looking to establish an office in NYC by the end of 2016. The expansion will bring them closer to their target customers, as well as NYC-based investor Founder Collective that participated in their Series A.

Kinetic Cafe is a global design, innovation and technology firm. Its world-class team of strategists, designers, engineers and foresight experts collaborate with retailers to create the most comprehensive connected retail experience platform in the market: Kinetic Commerce. From digital storefronts and associate apps to endless shelves and interactive digital walls, Kinetic Commerce is helping forward-thinking retailers unleash the power of emerging digital, mobile and store technology to create real-time experiences for their customers and associates on any devices.

Kinetic Commerce booth and clothing display

Kinetic entered the NYC market with a flagship initiative throughout four ALDO stores (27 W 34th St, 603 5th Ave, 470 Broadway and 181 Broadway) that’s revolutionizing the shoe-buying experience and boosting their client’s bottom line.

The opportunity came about after an initial conversation with ALDO HQ in Montreal, as the company was exploring the possibility of launching a mobile app. By exploring the underlying drivers, Kinetic was able to help ALDO uncover a deeper need to connect customers to products, stores and associates through a simple interface.

Andrew Cherwenka, VP Commercialization at Kinetic, credits ALDO’s forward-thinking executive team to the company’s ability to lead where others follow. After many years in the retail technology sector, Cherwenka understand the hesitancy that exists among retailers.

Many execs have been burned before by things that didn’t work,” he says, “including awkward digital mirrors or associate apps that received little usage.”

He believes retailers need real case studies from stores they can walk into and experience first-hand. Companies like Kinetic that can provide that and prove an increase in key metrics – like in-store conversions, order values and items per transaction – will be in a position to help the retail industry take another step into the future.

Affinio is a marketing intelligence platform that lets brands and agencies quickly understand their audiences through social graph analysis. Their secret sauce allows them to help their customers maximize advertising dollars by enabling them to identify “tribes” of data-driven personas that naturally exist in their audience at lightning speed. Affinio is a favorite of advertising agency giants UM, 360i, and TBWA. Their client list includes household brand names including the BBC, SabMiller and Spotify. They’re aggressively moving into consumer goods and are currently working with L’Oreal in NYC.
Photo of John Gleeson, VP of Client Success at Affinio

John Gleeson, VP of Client Success, credits Affinio’s success in NYC to listening to their customers.

When taking part in the CTA, his team’s strategy was to talk to and learn from as many potential customers as possible.

They reached out cold to hundreds of leads a day and listened carefully as they pitched and shared the early Affinio product vision and roadmap.

Rather than one big win or key intro, John speaks of a string of “micro-successes” that culminated in their ability to rapidly iterate on their product and develop a solution that honed in on their customers’ biggest pain point. Affinio’s team is now 30 strong and their recently closed series A along with strong revenue is helping to fuel their growth.


Want to learn more ways in which you can empower store associates through simple, effective tools? Get in touch today.