New Amazon wanted
The accelerator for phase 4 of food retail is Italian. Retail Hub, a project born shortly before the lockdown, hunts for startups and scaleups that have developed ready-made solutions for the retail market and connects these realities with operators who want to improve and innovate processes and business models.
"We aim to accelerate the adoption of new technologies by those who work in the retail sector on an international scale, providing companies with cutting-edge tools". Massimo Volpe (former president of the Federation of International Retail Associations) and Antonio Ragusa, two of the three founders of the accelerator, have clear ideas Retail Hu b, a project that was born from afar and which saw the official baptism of Italy last February, just before the lockdown imposed by the pandemic. The idea is to hunt for startups and scaleups that have developed ready-made solutions for the retail market (including food and agri-food) and act as a bridge to put these realities in contact with operators and brands that seek to improve and innovate. business processes and models. How? Taking advantage of their own skills and those of partners present in the USA, Israel, Europe and China and focusing on issues such as payments, social networks; visual commerce and voice commerce, drive to store strategies and more.
The scouting of innovations
“After 15 years of activity in the retail world - explains Volpe to Sole24ore.com - we discovered that there was a total asymmetry between technological and product innovation and that of retailiers, between those who create innovation and those who need it. The example of technology for the self service check out at the supermarket I think it is emblematic: Amazon has been experimenting with it since 2014, it has made it the strength of the Go minimarkets and it is therefore very complicated for competitors to operate with such a gap ". An example that certifies the choice of wanting to help startups to penetrate the corporate world on the one hand and the business community to scout new technologies on the other, offering them an alternative to the classic large consulting firms and their technological partners " . The basic objective, as Volpe summarizes, is to "exploit the relationships built in recent years as a business card to present themselves to large companies, whose incubators often close because they do not guarantee the financial return on investment but only at the level of ideas ".
“We want to create an open ecosystem - echoes Ragusa - and we want to do it in a disruptive way to become the Plug And Play (the largest startup accelerator in the world, landed in Milan in April 2019 to operate in the food & beverage area, ed) of retail ". And the revenue model? Simple: small stakes in exchange for mentorship, "success fees" with the more structured startups / scaleups, conferences and training activities.
60 startups already in the team: from the smart shelf
to the cloud management system
In the Retail Hub stable (about sixty realities present) there is in fact no shortage of new innovative companies that have to do more or less directly with the world of food, ranging from Italian companies to foreign companies or companies founded by Italians abroad. A “live” testimony of the accelerator's operating model arrived on 10 June, on the occasion of an event organized in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Economy to present eight startups to the Italian retail industry. Shekel Brainweigh, one of them, is a company specializing in the field of digital weighing that makes a suite of intelligent technologies available in the cloud, based on artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, ranging from 4D product recognition to predictive analysis tools. Its most successful application? A smart shelf that allows you to manage sales in cash less and self service mode.
The peculiarity of Trigo, on the other hand, it is a system of ceiling cameras and sensors powered by artificial intelligence capable of creating a3D image of the store and to map customer movements and purchasing choices accordingly. "They do the same things as Amazon at a tenth of the cost," assures Volpe, explaining how the startup's headquarters in Tel Aviv is a few tens of meters from the Seattle giant's laboratories.
In Italy, however, despite the great turmoil underway, we are still behind the rest of Europe. However, Ragusa's admission does not detract from the many new companies with which Retail Hub is working.
Wenda, among these, is a platform that allows to manage the data connected to the traceability and food distribution, starting from the cold and heat chain and checking that the products retain their organoleptic properties. Sooneatinstead, it is an application management software in the cloud designed to help restaurateurs (but also bars, accommodation facilities and bathing establishments) to manage orders placed directly by customers at the table: to do this, it uses menus and digital devices and a database that acts as a bulletin board to communicate promotions, events or initiatives on the calendar. ShopAppfinally, it is a solution still in its embryonic stage but has the advantage of addressing the target of small proximity supermarkets, offering them a extremely easy to use e-commerce and home delivery platform.