Innovation That Matters

Spotted: Built to help marketing and communication teams with daily management of their influencer programs, Traackr is positioned to assess the past performance of influencers and determine if they are a good fit for a brand. It also provides analytics to help marketers quantify the impact of influencers, measure both earned and paid campaigns and benchmark companies against competitors. 

Pierre-Loic Assayag, CEO of Traackr, said: “Influencer marketing has reached an inflection point for many brands and management is now demanding a more sophisticated measurement of the impact of influencer marketing on businesses, which will ultimately result in delivering a better ROI.” 

Global brands such as Microsoft, L’Oreal, SAP, Travelocity, Honda and the Coca-Cola Company are already using Traackr to structure and grow their influencer marketing programs across departments and geographies.

Munich-based NavVis has launched NavVis Cloud, a cloud-based platform that gives laser scanning professionals access to its NavVis IndoorViewer. The web-based application transforms data captured by laser scanners into immersive 3D buildings. The software allows scanned data to automatically be structured into a basic model of the building.

The building is displayed as realistic 360° walkthroughs, point clouds and customisable floor plans that users can then move through as if they are on site. The model is so accurate it can even take measurements.

“One of the most common ways NavVis IndoorViewer is being used is to create digital twins of factories. This is especially popular among automotive manufacturers and was actually pioneered by a major German automotive manufacturer,” said NavVis spokeswoman Viktoria Langley.

James Bidwell, Chair of Springwise, Co-founder of the innovation consultancy Re_Set and author of Disrupt! 100 Lessons in Business Innovation, shares his thoughts on this year’s World Retail Congress in Amsterdam. 

The 2019 World Retail Congress in Amsterdam demonstrated that the world of retail continues to face an existential crisis on many levels. The difference between the massive challenges faced by the legacy industry players and the opportunity being captured by the newer, more innovative businesses of the future has never been so acute. 

At the event itself — held in a large, air-conditioned exhibition area at the edge of the Amsterdam centre — there were plenty of reminders of the old way. With its non-recyclable badges and sponsors handing out a seemingly endless supply of single-use plastic water bottles (with “the future of retail” emblazoned on them — ironic, I thought…), it seemed as if the environmental issues we’re all facing were not even on the radar. Juxtaposed with the modern, well-connected host city — where the primary mode of transport are eco-friendly bikes — the scene was set for a fascinating three days.

Never has there been more change in an industry that is both serving and employing hundreds of millions of people, an industry that has so much impact on our natural resources. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, it is clear that there will be winners and losers, but the real question is whether retail has the capacity to do the right thing for our planet and become a genuine force for good.

After three days with the global leaders there were signs of inspiration, but questions remain as to whether they will turn things around in time.

Top Takeaways From WRC

Martin Wolf on economic and political backdrop: This was expertly outlined by Wolf, an associate editor and chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, who explored the macro challenges faced by all of us in an increasingly fragile world. He made clear in his comments that the strategic rivalry between the US and China is not to be underestimated— not just in business, but in technology and military firepower. His predictions, which have very often been spot on, left the audience feeling apprehensive. 

Eastern influence: WRC does a brilliant job of attracting Chinese retailers and this year, both Tencent and were on stage. The speed, flexibility and agility of these new organisations in new markets is astounding, and there is much to learn here. The rise of the ecosystem player with a holistic customer approach and powered by technology is driving huge growth. WeChat processes one billion payments every single day. That’s right: one billion, every day.

Netherlands in good hands: Prime Minister Mark Rutte dropped by for half an hour and gave an excellent talk. Dynamic, personal and knowledgeable, he outlined his government’s commitment to innovation, sustainability and digital as the platform for growth. Unencumbered by the political turmoil, which is destroying the US and UK political class, this was an example of the leadership that is making the Netherlands such an attractive place to do business and to live.

Carla Buzasi on Gen X: The charismatic managing director of WGSN, and a Springwise favourite, gave an engaging talk on Generation X, or the “lost generation.” She argued that this generation represents a compelling and overlooked opportunity for retailers, who continue to maintain their obsession with millennials and the ageing population

Profit with a purpose: Guy Singh Watson, the founder of Riverford Organic, gave the talk of the conference. His organic vegetables box-delivery scheme perfectly captures the zeitgeist with its uncompromising environmental and sustainability messaging. “Is your organisation useful?” he asked. Is it contributing to the good of our world, our planet, or is it a destructive force? A proponent of employee ownership, protection of the soil and our natural world, Watson argued that climate change trumps all other issues we face, and that retailers must change their ways and set the example. The audience was stunned into temporary silence and then rose to an ovation, though many in attendance were likely left examining their consciences as they boarded their jets home. 

Spotted: London-based Wagestream has built an app that allows staff to collect a percentage of their wages on any day of the month. It costs a flat fee of £1.75 with no loans or interest.

By not making UK workers wait until the end of the month to get paid, the company is aiming to end payday poverty and save people from dealing with payday and other high-cost lenders.

“The antiquated monthly pay cycle inflicts huge financial damage on household finances and its days are numbered. Too many people are pushed into a corner by in-work poverty and forced into the hands of payday lenders and high-cost credit.” said Peter Briffett, CEO and Co-Founder of Wagestream.

Wagestream claims that users are reporting greater financial security, which in turn engenders loyalty. According to the service, research shows that shift workers choose to work 22 percent more hours on average once enrolled in Wagestream. The company recently raised €46 million in its Series A round.

Spotted: Munich-based startup Holodeck VR has developed Virtual Reality (VR) which allows up to 20 people to participate. The experience sees the participants move around in an empty space of 10×20 metres wearing VR goggles.

Holodeck’s experiences combine real and digital environments, allowing people to be immersed in a virtual but realistic world. The startup offers options for industries such as eSports and tourism and plans to release several new experiences each year.

The tech behind Holodeck’s system merges radio frequencies, IR tracking and on-device IMUs, which allows for multi-user, positionally-tracked VR via mobile headsets, according to TechCrunch.

The company recently received a seven-figure investment from ProSiebenSat.1 and is looking for new partners wanting to turn their spaces into interactive Holodeck experiences.

Spotted: The Seoul-based Hanwha Galleria shopping mall is using media art installed on its exterior to inform pedestrians of fine-dust levels. The feature uses red and green colour hues of to indicate the levels of pollution.

For example, if fine-dust concentration is at elevated levels, the lighting on the exterior of the Galleria will be red while showing green when levels are low. On especially bad days — when fine dust levels are 81μg/m3 or higher — KF94 certified masks will be given to customers.

The innovative lighting is part of Hanwha Galleria’s “Right! Galleria” campaign aimed at promoting a culture of eco-friendly sustainable consumption.

Spotted: South London-based DKUK hair salon has customers looking at artwork rather than their own reflections when getting their hair done. Designed by Sam Jacob Studio, the concept is aiming to redefine how art and work can come together by replacing mirrors with artwork.

If this worries you, customers can still see their finished hair. At the end of the salon lies a see-through cabinet, which at the flick of a switch becomes reflective.

Finally, the main room also serves as a gallery. “The new design combines cultural space with social enterprise to support new approaches to how art and life can be brought together productively, making a new type of gallery space and new ways of showing art,” head of the studio, Sam Jacob, explained to

“Our design acts like a framework that enables all kinds of exciting possibilities to occur at their intersection,” he added.

Spotted: Scotland-based ePOS Hybrid has created an app to help automate all aspects of running a restaurant, from digital menus to streamlined stock updates and employee rotas. It makes it easy for restaurants to list ingredients and flag possible allergens.

The app helps managers make menus more transparent for customers. They can add information about cooking, ingredients, allergens and calories. Customers can also send orders directly to the kitchen while they are waiting to be served.

The company’s founder, Bhas Kalangi, was inspired to create the app based on efforts to improve labelling on food. “The time, cost and difficulty of tracking and listing allergens during food preparation” are challenges for restaurants and takeaways. “For most of them it is simply too complex a problem,” Kalangi said in a press statement.

Kalangi has invested more than £500,000 of his own money into the app. The Android-based system was launched in March. He plans to expand operations to America and India over the next five years.

Spotted: US-based MobileIron is eliminating passwords to access secure data at work. The zero-trust security platform turns employees’ mobile phones into their key to access servers and cloud data.

Zero-trust is basically what it sounds like: nothing and no one is trusted to access data without verification. MobileIron uses a variety of attributes before granting access to any user or secure device. For instance, it validates the device, app authorisation and the network being used to log on. It also detects and remediates threats before granting secure access to a device or user. That makes it safer than passwords, according to MobileIron.

“Zero trust security significantly reduces risk by giving you complete control over your business data as it flows across devices, apps, networks, and cloud services,” the company said.

The service will be available on iOS devices in June 2019, with a rollout later in 2019 for Android.

Spotted: An Indian design studio has created a concept of a school built entirely of wood and straw. The design is sustainable and adaptable, according to the architects. It is also stable in terms of fire safety and structural security, they told

Nudes Studio created the design as part of an architectural competition organised by Archstorming on behalf of the Active Africa NGO. The concept school had to be made out of local materials and construction systems. Sustainability and scalability were also key requirements. The design had to be a modular solution that could be constructed in stages.  

Nudes Studio’s concept uses “ladders” as the backbone of A-frame wooden structures. The structures can be adapted in size and shape to accommodate the school’s needs. Its exterior sides are filled in with straw (earth and terracotta could also be used).

The Nudes’ design was not chosen for the school project. But the studio plans to develop prototypes to test its potential. It is also planning a pop-up pavilion that would include straw bales in its construction