Discover 7 Retail Startups You Should Watch in 2021

In 2021, you should know emerging startups that will impact the retail sector this year. Discover 7 hand-picked, global startups that were founded in 2020 and develop innovative solutions for your sector!

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global supply chains and other economically important systems, 2020 still managed to produce major tech breakthroughs, as well as thousands of startups. We analyzed 1.715 retail startups, all of them developing innovative solutions spanning from shelf monitoring to increasing brand engagement and decreasing customer churn. In this report, you will discover 7 emerging retail startups founded in 2020.

The 7 promising retail startups you should watch in 2021 were hand-picked based on our data-driven startup scouting approach, taking into account factors such as location, founding year, and relevance of technology, among others. The 1.715 companies that were analyzed for this report are identified using the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 1.379.000+ startups & scaleups globally. When you are looking for up-to-date retail solutions for your innovation units, R&D, or product development department, the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform gives you the most exhaustive collection and ensures you continuously discover new startups, scaleups, and technologies.

Global Startup Heat Map: 7 Retail Startups to Watch in 2021

The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 7 retail startups, established in 2020, developing technology-driven solutions for the retail industry. Moreover, you can explore global hotspots for retail startups and even download this graphic to include in your next presentation.


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Squared AI – Data Labeling and Annotation

The rapid emergence of e-commerce platforms and the evolution of social media platforms as digital shop floors continue to disrupt the retail industry. The sheer number of retail products that are available in the market and the number of new products being launched act as a challenge for retailers to seamlessly manage their dynamic product portfolios. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms allow augmenting the manual work of labeling and reduce overall costs. Therefore, startups and scaleups develop data labeling and annotation solutions to minimize the effort involved in manual and repetitive activities.

The US-based startup Squared AI develops machine learning models that are used by multiple industries, including retail. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, the startup conducts text analytics, data mining, statistical and mathematical modeling as well as information extraction. As a result, retailers can leverage their data to increase footfall, understand consumer sentiments, and plan for strategic advertising campaigns. – Advanced Analytics

An important benefit of leveraging retail analytics is gaining customer behavior insights. Additionally, retail analytics help with maximizing in-store return on investments (ROIs) and provide an understanding of various parameters including customer churn, customer engagement, and product offerings. To this end, global startups and scaleups develop innovative retail analytics solutions to help brick and mortar retailers compete with e-commerce platforms.

The AI-based solution of UAE-based startup enables retailers to better understand their customers through analytics solutions such as demand forecasting and customer segmentation. Additionally, the startup’s customer sentiment analysis helps retailers showcase the right products to the right customers, thereby increasing sales. Further, customer churn prediction solutions bring clarity on why a specific retailer is losing business and how to tackle this issue.

Recoshelf – Shelf Monitoring

The retail environment in many countries is still unorganized. In such scenarios, most retail stores tend to under- or over-utilize their shelf space resulting in potential loss of sales and unmanageable inventories. To address this challenge, computer vision and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions enable retailers to monitor their shelves in real-time and ensure products are always in stock and available to customers. Furthermore, startups and scaleups develop IoT solutions to keep track of the performance of retail shelf space to optimize sales.

Estonian startup Recoshelf enables retailers to manage out of stock situations with the help of smart cameras that continuously monitor shelves. These cameras provide retailers with on-shelf availability data and enable effective planogramming. Moreover, the startup’s solution continuously checks for outdated and incorrect price tags that result in negative customer experiences. Recoshelf’s solution leverages computer vision in large stores for shelf auditing through a smartphone, thereby improving the efficiency of retail stores.

Censuum – Retail-as-a-Service (RaaS)

Currently, there are a number of innovative technologies that offer opportunities for the retail industry including artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR), and big data analytics. However, retailers with limited budgets encounter roadblocks while implementing such technologies. By offering lower costs, RaaS bridges the gap between the physical retail environment and the online retail environment. These services and platforms, developed by global startups and scaleups, therefore maximize profitability at lower costs.

The RaaS platform of Danish startup Censuum democratizes access to physical retail space that is cost-intensive and enables online shops to sell products at par with retail stores. The solution boosts brand growth with the help of a highly competitive acquisition channel and in-store sales. Further, the retail-as-a-service platform deepens the brand experiences as a result of analytical consideration of retail space and brand educated staff in tandem with platforms that increase seamlessness between physical retail and online retail stores.

Kouto – Software-driven Automation

Operating physical retail stores include labor costs, which contribute significantly to the overall costs. Retail automation technology combats this challenge by providing multiple benefits that include significant cost reduction, increase in productivity and efficiency as well as drives sales and improves customer experience. Automating retail workflows improves customer engagement and allows companies to retain more customers.

The US-based startup Kouto develops a platform that enables retailers to improve overall retail store operations. The solution particularly enables retailers to increase the financial performance of store assets. Moreover, the platform allows retailers to deepen brand affinity and satisfaction by using human-centric experiences to build more meaningful connections between the customer and brands.

Retail Pulse – Computer Vision

Image recognition technologies identify product defects and monitor footfall in stores. In combination with AI, computer vision technology provides retailers with real-time insights into the operational intricacies of their stores. Furthermore, emerging retail startups are using computer vision to offer solutions that payments, collect data, and ensure compliance in retail stores.

Indian startup Retail Pulse utilizes computer vision and AI to provide actionable insights and improve retail operations. The startup’s real-time shelf analytics include a share of shelf, in-store execution compliance, and competition insights for FMCG companies. Moreover, the startup generates in-depth analytics of visibility score, store sell-in potential, and key sales drivers.

BuyLevel – Brand Development

Strategic advertising and marketing campaigns enable companies to promote the right products to the right customer base, increasing overall revenues. However, retail brand development in the digital age brings with it challenges such as establishing differentiated product positioning and making it attractive for retailers. Data-driven retail services provide a platform to develop innovative brand development strategies and solutions to maximize overall profitability for all stakeholders.

British startup BuyLevel provides data-driven products to improve profitability for brands, consumers, and retailers. With the help of data-driven product positioning campaigns, retail partnerships, and a brand matching algorithm, the startup enables rapid product placement, deployment, and expansion, for new and existing brands alike.

What will 2021 bring for retail companies?

To stay ahead of the technology curve, it is important that you know which technologies and industry trends will impact your company in 2021. You can explore our curated retail reports or let us do the work for you. To keep you up-to-date on the latest technology and emerging solutions, we provide you with actionable innovation intelligence – quickly and exhaustively.

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