The John Lewis Partnership has revealed that following a competitive pitch day for its retail innovation programme JLAB, it will continue discussions with six businesses who could transform how we shop in the future.

More than 160 startups and more established businesses entered the experiential retail challenge with the chance of being selected to develop their ideas with John Lewis & Partners.

Eleven businesses, all determined to explore the new role for shops in our lives, were invited to pitch to a panel of ten judges at John Lewis & Partners in Southampton, as well as to a group of customers and John Lewis employees (partners), whose opinions shaped the decisions made by the judges.

These pitches ranged from a new way to navigate and explore larger shops from your smartphone, to the very latest beauty services in your home and even pioneering technology to create “urban allotments” within shops.

The businesses selected to continue discussions with JLAB and potentially work with the Partnership in the future are:

  • SeloyLive which transforms shop windows into huge interactive displays that customers can engage with and control from their fingertips.
  • Oriient which is ensuring customers can navigate directly to the products they desire in shops and unlock further exploration of the store experience through their smartphone.
  • Ruuby which allows customers to book the very latest beauty treatments at home, or any other location they choose – office, shop and even a hotel.
  • MemoMi which enables customers to virtually try on a huge array of fashion and beauty products, providing an innovative way for customers to navigate choice and access personalised recommendations based on their detailed image profile and preferences.
  • MakersCAFE which offers personalisation through 3D printing and laser cutting on customers’ most loved products and gift purchases.
  • LettUs Grow which is embracing the use of retail space in its pursuit of a more sustainable approach to farming, and as a route to reinvigorating communities, through the shared joy of growing. Its technology, through the growing of plants without soil anywhere in the world, will reimagine the world of farming and community gardening.

Peter Cross, customer experience director at John Lewis & Partners, said: “Our search was for those entrepreneurs who might dare to think differently about the future of retail.

“Recent years have seen seismic changes in our sector, with a new benchmark in customer expectation every time they shop. Shops simply have no option but to inspire and delight customers – offering both fantastic products and personalised seamless experiences.

“We believe the dynamic new businesses selected for further discussions with JLAB will help us continue to stretch, shape and deliver together for our customers in the future.”

This year’s JLAB theme builds on the significant investment the Partnership is making in product and service innovation, and partner-led services.  The JLAB experiential retail challenge follows on from two pitch days held in June and September 2018, which focused on health and wellbeing and reducing plastic waste.

JLAB is one of the largest innovation programmes in the UK and last year it was expanded to run as an all year-round programme and opened to both startups and more established businesses.