Shoptalk's Global Retail Innovation Tour: 360° Israel & China Experiences To Be Showcased Onsite
Oct 23, 2019 by Zia Daniell Wigder
Tomorrow, our team will head overseas to kick off a brand-new project: capturing some of the most exciting retail innovation around the world in 360° video. We’ll first travel 6,000 miles to Tel Aviv—then an additional 5,000 miles to Shanghai—to create two completely different visual experiences that will be showcased onsite at Shoptalk in March.
The first video will introduce attendees to emerging technologies in three cities across Israel, focusing on the cutting-edge technologies that are attracting global interest from some of the biggest names in retail. Then in China, we’ll join Alibaba for the world-renowned 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, the world’s largest ecommerce event.
The 360°/VR video we’re creating will immerse Shoptalk attendees in these incredible ecosystems on the other side of the world. It’s one thing to read about what’s happening in markets like Israel and China--it’s another to feel like you’re there.
Some of the video equipment we’ll be using to capture these experiences in 360°
The First Leg of Our Journey: Israel
Israel currently boasts 500+ retail technology startups, with many building AI-based solutions. The pace of innovation in the country has not gone unnoticed: global retailers from Amazon to eBay, Nike and Walmart have all acquired tech startups in Israel.
We’ll be meeting with a series of innovation centers, startups and VCs, focusing on those with an interest from international brands and retailers. We’ll showcase this innovation with a 360° visual backdrop in some of the most intriguing parts of the country.
Several interviews will be conducted at local sites such as Caesarea National Park
(1) Innovation Centers Creating Hubs for New Ideas and Technologies
Israel boasts a large number of incubators, accelerators and platforms that enable innovative retail tech startups to scale. Our video will feature two centers with global partners:
- The Builders Platform. Through different programs, The Builders fosters partnerships with Fortune 100 companies to help them make or save money using technology and through access to startups. In addition to The Builders Fund and an R&D Innovation Platform, The Builders offers a commercialization program called The Bridge which is backed by Coca-Cola, Turner Broadcasting, Mercedes-Benz and Walmart.
- Re:Tech. With partners that include global digital retailers like ASOS and eBay, Re;Tech is an innovation hub thata helps brands and retailers take advantage of emerging retail technologies being developed in Israel.
(2) Startups Building the Next Generation of Retail Technologies
In 2018, $6.8 billion was invested in startups in Israel. Our video will explore some of the most groundbreaking retail technologies in the country and will include conversations with the founders of:
- Dynamic Yield. Acquired earlier this year by McDonald’s for $300 million to create personalized QSR experiences, Dynamic Yield is an AI-powered personalization platform that’s also used by a range of retailers from IKEA and Ocado to Urban Outfitters.
- Yotpo. AI-based ecommerce marketing platform Yotpo works with a variety of digitally native brands ranging from Adore Me and Away to UNTUCKit. The company has raised over $100 million in funding from investors that include VCs such a Bessemer and Vertex.
- Fabric. Previously known as CommonSense Robotics, Fabric recently announced the first-ever underground automated microfulfillment center (MFC). The company’s MFCs are being used at Israel’s Super-Pharm drugstores. The company has raised $26 million from international investors.
- Syte. Syte’s “visual AI for retail” platform recently raised $22 million from an international set of VCs. The company works with clients including Farfetch, Marks & Spencer, boohoo, and Tommy Hilfiger. Syte is also part of the Lafayette Plug and Play Retail Tech Program.
- Trigo. Also with $22 million in recent funding from international investors, Trigo’s AI-based automated checkout technology is now powering checkout at retailers including the UK’s Tesco and Israel’s Shufersal.
- ARpalus. Based in Caesarea, ARpalus was founded earlier this year and is the only pre-seed stage startup on our list. The company offers an augmented reality (AR)-based planogram solution and is part of the METRO Accelerator program, Nielsen incubator and SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv (SAP’s new program in Israel).
One of Fabric’s underground microfulfillment centers
Syte’s visual search technology helps shoppers discover new products
(3) VCs Funding Innovation
Finally, we’ll speak with some of the venture capital firms that are funding these groundbreaking startups. We’ll hear perspectives from:
- Viola Ventures. Viola is one of Israel’s most prominent technology-focused investment groups with over $3 billion in assets. The company funds Israeli or Israeli-related early-stage tech startups--its investments include Dynamic Yield, Syte, Outbrain, Payoneer and SimilarWeb.
- OurCrowd. Jerusalem-based OurCrowd is a leading equity crowdfunding platform for investing in global startups. Over the past five years, OurCrowd has invested in more deals than any other VC firm in the country.
Our final interview in Israel will be filmed at Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem
Moving Onto the World’s Largest Retail Market: China
After wrapping up filming in Israel, the team will fly from Tel Aviv to Shanghai, China. China is set to surpass the US this year as the world’s largest retail market and is often considered to be the leader when it comes to groundbreaking retail innovation. At the forefront of this innovation is Alibaba, recently ranked as China’s most valuable brand. Alibaba has turned ecommerce into a nationwide phenomenon and into entertainment--the company also single-handedly created the largest online shopping day anywhere in the world, 11.11 (Singles Day).
Executive offices at Alibaba’s Hangzhou campus
We’re thrilled that this year our team will be in Shanghai and Hangzhou to document 11.11 as well as the activities around it, and to bring a bit of the 11.11 experience back to Shoptalk for attendees to experience.
11.11 Global Shopping Festival
Alibaba’s one-day shopping extravaganza is now a nationwide phenomenon in China, with sales outpacing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined by more than 2X. In 2018, $31 billion of goods were sold online on 11.11 in a 24-hour period. Brands go all-out to promote their 11.11 offerings while shoppers add products to their carts well in advance in anticipation of the wide-ranging sales that come with the event.
11.11 also includes a gala event with a line-up of multiple Chinese and international celebrities. In 2017, I joined 11.11 in Shanghai as part of an international group that took part in the Alibaba festivities--the event was mind-blowing then and has only gotten bigger.
A group on stage at Aliababa’s 2017 11.11 Gala including Jack Ma and Nicole Kidman
Sales ticker at the end of the night on 11.11 in 2017 showing $25 billion in sales--in 2018, that total increased to $31 billion
Other New Retail Initiatives at Alibaba
In addition to 11.11, the Shoptalk team will explore some of Alibaba’s other revolutionary innovations that fall into the category of “New Retail,” or seamless physical and digital experiences.
- Freshippo (Chinese: Hema Xiansheng). The Financial Times recently described Freshippo as “an unconventional supermarket” where “conveyor belts whisk bags of groceries along the ceiling above shoppers’ heads, facial recognition units scan customers at checkouts, and algorithmically determined prices change dynamically depending on the time of day.” Our video tour will feature one of the 150 Freshippo stores in China and give attendees a look at what a grocery shopping experience of the future will look like.
- Robot.He. Alibaba’s automated restaurant experience, Robot.He, has robots serving customers’ food and retrieving dishes. The Shanghai-based restaurant uses conveyor belts, robotic arms and mobile robots to serve customers; customers use the Hema/Freshippo app to find seats, order and pay using QR codes.
Alibaba’s automated Robot.He restaurant
- FlyZoo. Located in Hangzhou, FlyZoo is a 290-room futuristic, automated hotel built by Alibaba’s online travel platform, Fliggy, along with other Alibaba Group business units. FlyZoo serves as a testing ground for new technologies in development for the hospitality industry--it also serves as a way to gauge consumer reaction to unmanned hotel experiences.
- New Emerging Digital Store Technologies. In addition to visiting the two physical locations above, we’ll be documenting some of the new retail technologies Alibaba is working on. Previous technology showcases at 11.11 have highlighted areas such as automated checkout and augmented reality--this year we’re excited to hear which new technologies will be in the spotlight.
Our team will head back to the States in mid-November to start creating the videos. We hope you’ll join us at Shoptalk in Las Vegas from March 22-25, 2020 to hear from great speakers, meet other innovators...and to be immersed in 360° global retail experiences like no other. We’ll save you a seat!