Disruptive innovation

Following the successful launch of intu Accelerate in 2017 this year, our hunt for innovation in retail continued based on six new categories

Our role as a landlord is simple; create compelling shopping experiences that make our customers smile and help our retailers flourish. In an industry that never stands still this means we must think differently, creatively and at times, be bold. Embracing innovation is not always easy, it will disrupt the way we do things, but it is absolutely necessary.

That’s why last year we launched intu Accelerate, a 10-week incubation programme that invites young businesses to help shape the future of the retail industry. We focussed this year’s programme on five important categories and selected seven start-ups to work with to help develop their products and services to enhance the shopping experience and deliver value to retailers.

Capturing physical audiences digitally

Shoppers rarely categorise themselves as either an online or physical shopper. Shopping today is not a linear process; there are various points within a single purchase journey where we flit between the two. We are in the era of phygital retail which we explored in our 2016 report with Retail Week, “When digital and physical collide”. So, when it comes to curating the best shopping experiences, data is king. Roialty, help to collect this valuable data using their hi-tech marketing platform to turn anonymous social media data into detailed customer insights to enable retailers to offer personalised calls to action that will enhance their overall experience with the brand

Events with a difference

Events with a difference

What’s life without a little bit of theatre? Our research paper ‘Retailing at your leisure’ revealed that as free time becomes increasingly prized leisure, shopping and dining no have become inexorably linked and the role of a shopping centre as a destination to shop, eat and play is crucial.

Start-ups, Rhythm and Wefifo are focussed on creating memorable experiences that matter to consumers. Rhythm creates interactive digital experiences and as part of intu Accelerate successfully trialled ‘Piing,’ an easy to access, multiplayer game which engaged shoppers at intu Merry Hill, increasing their dwell time. Wefifo also boosted footfall and dwell time by bringing shoppers together to enjoy a shared social dining experience at intu Chapelfield made possible by their tech platform which connects hosts and guests securely.

Virtual shopping assistant

We live in a world where you can talk to a device and have it handle tasks autonomously, by learning what you like and dislike it even makes personalised suggestions. Now imagine using machine learning technology to help create a seamless customer journey underpinned by a deeper understanding. Meet Yosh.AI - the Siri for fashion shopping.  Using their innovative AI based solution Yosh.AI imitate the in-store shopping experience through an advanced conversational commerce, delivered through language processing, image recognition and visual search.

woman presenting
The retail sector is rapidly changing, becoming one of the most dynamic industries to work in. This a unique opportunity for start-ups to partner with intu and gain true validation for their product with teh market leader."

Stuart Marks
L Marks chairman

Categorising product data smarter

Delivering the perfect online experience can be the difference between checkout and an abandoned basket. Technology can play a critical role in enabling online shoppers to find what they’re looking for easily and quickly. Greendeck, recently announced as Retail Week's Tech Start-Up of the Year are experts in this field, using natural language processing and image recognition to help standardise product data and enrich it with detailed attributes, making it much easier for consumers to find.


It’s important to remain open to new ideas and technology and it’s our willingness to test, trial and sometimes even fail, ultimately enables us to understand and shape the future of our industry. This year we took forward two wildcard entries, CarTap and Grid Edge who both offer unique retail solutions. CarTap have developed the technology to transfer and control singe access codes via a universal key device, meaning they’re able to securely deliver shoppers bags directly to their car boots – no more carrying shopping bags. Grid Edge have developed innovative technology to change the way people use energy. Using AI they can help businesses reduce their environmental impact and costs by giving them the data to help predict and optimise building energy loads.

It's been an exciting summer of innovation and over the course of the 10-week incubation programme, the class of intu Accelerate 2018 has trialled some exciting new technologies and applied them to real life cases to demonstrate potential. In a short space of time, intu Accelerate has enabled us to embrace the new and challenge the status quo, making evolution one step closer.