Last Wednesday, Westfield Labs’ Connected Commerce Accelerator program in partnership with R/GA concluded with a demo-style showcase event at Bespoke in Westfield San Francisco Centre. The event was the conclusion of a 12-week program, during which each company received mentorship, guidance and support from R/GA, Westfield Labs, and program partners including Macy’s, Walmart, Shopify Plus and others to adapt and scale their business.
During the event the 10 participating companies, representing the next wave of innovation in the commerce and retail space, pitched their businesses to a room full of 250 investors and business leaders. In addition to pitching, several companies made exciting announcements, including Darkstore who announced their expansion to New York and Phoenix and 4 new brands, Oak who launched OAK Stockroom, and Happy Returns who announced a pilot program with Westfield at Westfield San Francisco Centre and Westfield Topanga.
The first Connected Commerce graduating class includes the following companies. As you will see, the customer experience plays a big role across all companies, as does advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing. You can also check out the full event including pitches on YouTube here.
- Agent Q is a customer service chat platform that superpowers customer service agents with Artificial Intelligence. With the help of the R/GA Services team and the program partners, Agent Q has trained its machine learning algorithms to make agents faster and more effective.
- AxleHire provides same-day delivery services using an advanced routing algorithm for e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers that demand reliability, affordable prices, and exceptional customer service. Throughout the program, they doubled in size - expanding revenue to almost $200,000 per month, fulfilling 40,000 deliveries in September alone.
- Clarifai is an AI company that empowers businesses and developers to solve real-world problems using visual recognition – for example, retailers could use their platform to allow customers to easily identify and potentially buy products that are similar to images they provide. Clarifai recently announced a $30 million round of funding led by Menlo Ventures.
- Cordial is an adaptive messaging platform that helps retailers and publishers combine analytics with machine learning to create messaging that speaks to what consumers need in the moment. In partnership with R/GA, Cordial is expanding its machine learning capabilities and their customer base.
- Darkstore is an on-demand delivery fulfillment platform that enables e-commerce brands to store inventory in warehouses within cities so they can offer same-day delivery. Having already launched in San Francisco in May with Tuft & Needle, they announced four more brand partners including Frank + Oak, Peel, Wildfang, and Skipodz and new Darkstore locations in New York City and Phoenix.
- Happy Returns is a technology, logistics, and service company that enables in-person returns for online shoppers. Building a network of Return Bars where online shoppers can return items in person for an immediate refund, the company eliminates the hassle and wait of returns by mail. Happy Returns announced the expansion of its Return Bar network with two new Westfield locations, Westfield Topanga and Westfield San Francisco Centre, where its return services are now fully integrated into the mall guest services desk.
- Myagi lets sales associates master the customer experience, by delivering lightweight, easy-to-access lessons at exactly the right time.
- Oak known for their OAK Mirror, announced Oak StockRoom, a new product leveraging Artificial Intelligence to predict and request in-store stock movement. Additionally, Oak provided a sneak peek at future products in their connected-store ecosystem.
- Percolata uses sensor and sales data in physical retail stores to optimize sales teams, giving a 10-30% boost in revenue using the same labor, budget and staff.
- Reply.ai makes customer service less painful. With an end-to-end chatbot platform that can build, manage, and optimize 1:1 communication with customers at scale, Reply.ai works with major brands and retailers to make customer service more manageable and efficient. Reply.ai partnered with R/GA and the Ad Council to power the GoVoteBot during the program, and powered the Starbuck Pumpkin Spice Latte chatbot.
Westfield Labs is extremely proud to have successfully brought together such a diverse group of partners to collaborate and think together about how to
tackle the next frontier or retail. While our challenges and needs were different, we all had a common goal of advancing the retail industry. We are
also thrilled to have engaged with and empowered such a strong group of startups - we can't wait to see what's to come for all of them!