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Five startups from Target Accelerator's second batch that aim to improve the retail sector

Harshith Mallya
31st Mar 2015
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Target, the Fortune 50 retailer, has been functioning in India for the past 10 years and serves as an extension of the Minneapolis HQ. Target India set up an accelerator program back in Janurary 2014 to tap into the innovation ecosystem in India. The first batch of five startups focused on developing ideas across key areas such as search, content, data, social and mobile and graduated from the accelerator in June 2014.

Target India hosted a Demo Day for the second batch of five startups graduating from the Accelerator Program recently. The startups selected for this batch ran along the themes of omnichannel, digital marketing, mobile, supply chain and data. The startups presented their products that aimed to enhance the overall retail shopping experience.

“As a company, we are passionate about building innovative solutions for retail. The Target Accelerator Program has helped 10 startups explore new ideas that have the potential to shape the future of this industry,” said Navneet Kapoor, president and managing director, Target India. “This initiative has given startups an opportunity to significantly mature their products and enable scale for global needs. We are looking forward to a continued partnership with this ecosystem,” he added.

Here is a list of the startups with a brief introduction and their use cases

Synapse

Push notifications through mobile apps have almost become the default mode of engagement. But, according to research, Syanpse found that 60% of users opt out of push notifications as they are either not engaging or relevant. Synapse aims to change this and offer a better experience with context-aware mobile experiences.

For Target, Synapse developed a product where users’ would get access to offers on their lock-screens for 60 seconds and could save offers they liked and wished to cash in on. They will also be adding more intelligence such as push notifications based on location, time of the day. They also have the capability to send notifications through Spotify, Netflix and other streaming services and play a song,when they detect that the user has plugged in their earphones and is not on a call.  

Speaking on the occasion, Ranjan Jagannathan, founder of Synapse said, “Target has embraced mobile innovations consistently and this encourages startups like us to push product frontiers.”

Whodat

An augmented reality app that aims to help people visualize products in their living rooms before actually purchasing them. The startup is bootstrapped and profitable, having earned $200k in revenue with 50k in profit for FY 2014-2015. Some of their clients include Urban Ladder, Huawei, Master Card, Taj, Ariel etc.

Whodat worked with the home décor team at Target to help users, visualize dinner table setup on their mobiles or tablets before they purchased it. Users could visualize how a mat, plate or bowl would look individually or stacked up on top of each other on their dining table and move them around. Their future plans include providing Augmented Reality environments for wardrobes and kitchens.

Sriram Ganesh, co-founder of Whodat, added: “Through this initiative we could scale our product to a Fortune 30 retailer. Thanks to Target for committing to and engaging with this ecosystem.”

Visarity

When it comes to engagement and conversion for brands, gamification works better than banner ads or videos is what Visarity found. They have the expertise in delivering HD assets such as videos and interactive games at compressed sizes. For example, they brought down the size of 10MB video to 1.5MB. They charge a flat fee for their service and their clients can upsell their products. Some of their customers include Cisco, Ford, Microsoft, Rolex, Magster, Axel Springer etc.

Target and Visarity worked together to build an interactive game experience based on the popular movie franchise ‘Star Wars’ for its media network. In the game, users had to swipe left and right and choose the correct parts to assemble their LEGO Star Wars character. They found that engagement times were higher and they had a much higher click through rate from first timers and good re-engagement rates as well.

Wazzat Labs

What Shazam did for music, Wazzat Labs aims to do visual search for fashion e-commerce.They want to add ‘eyes’ to websites and apps to help users find what they need based on a combination of parameters such as colour, pattern and style.

Wazzat successfully tested their ‘find similar’ technology for apparel and shoes on Target.com. Users were able to discover similar variants of the original product they chose. Users can upload a photo from their gallery or take a picture and Wazzat will be able to automatically populate and show results for different clothes.In their target audience in the US, they found that bikinis were among their most popular searches as users could filter their searches and ‘mix and match’ based on different parameters. Another feature is a ‘Trending section’ where users are able to discover clothes based on what celebrities are wearing, which Wazzat discovers by crawling through posts on Instagram and Pinterest. They are currently in the process of filing patents for their technology.

Torchsight

Torchsight aims to provide consumer metrics for offline retail stores to measure customer traffic, engagement and loyalty in real time.They gather this data through their plug and play IoT sensor device which captures signals from WiFi enabled smartphones and collates, aggregates data anonymously on the cloud. This will provide retail stores metrics on what generally happens before a transaction, time spent by consumers in the store etc. From their trial runs they found that time spent in the store is directly proportional to conversions.Torchsight is able to accurately capture upto 70% of data in busy stores.

This idea was tested by Target’s Enterprise growth initiatives team in San Francisco and is currently live in about 60 stores. Even though the data is collected anonymously, Torch is able to identify when a customer returns to a store again, through the unique IDs they assign to each smartphone. They can also provide retailers additional data points through ‘Heatmaps’ collected through additional sensors and help retailers with surveys. and provide store managers with feedback and inputs about customer-buying habits.

Target aims to discover new product ideas relevant to retail and is now accepting applications for the third cohort which will start in June 2015.

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