Micro-location startup Localz has raised £100,000 ($A187,000) after winning European omni-channel retailer John Lewis’ JLAB incubator program, taking the nine-month-old startup’s total seed funding just shy of $1 million.
Localz is a software-as-a-service platform that allows large enterprises to connect legacy technology with micro-location experiences, whether it be iBeacons, near field communication technology, or geo-fencing.
Co-founder Tim Andrew says while “any digital agency worth their salt” can develop interesting retail experiences using such technology, it’s integrating it with the systems of retailers that can be difficult.
“Something that stood out about us to John Lewis was our ability to help them do this with their existing technology,” he says.
“There’s an enormous amount of hype around beacons, but there’s not as many people who can turn it into a decent application.”
The startup allows business clients to rapidly deploy production-ready micro-location solutions via a range of ready-made adaptors that work with their existing systems and processes. Andrew says the “sweet-spot” for Localz is in the financial services and retail space.
“Retail seems to be the most progressive on the question of on and offline customers,” he says.
Localz’ technology aims to narrow the gap between on and offline shopping experiences. Andrew says the most progressive retailers realise there’s no such thing as online retail and offline retail, there’s just retail.
What does that look like in practice? He explains with a use-case that Localz is working on with John Lewis. Customers make a purchase through the website and choose “click and collect” for in-store collection. When they arrive at the store, Localz’ micro-location technology can notify John Lewis employees, who can take the product to their car, or meet them at the door.
Another example Andrew gives is helping customers locate items on their online shopping cart, when they’re in the physical store.
Andrew says the startup, which is setting up an office in the UK, has a valuation “in the high seven figures, not quite eight but close to it” and is being “courted” to relocate to the UK.
“You’ve got all the fundamentals there, which you don’t have to relocate to capture, the size of the market opportunity, for example,” he says.
“But the relocation incentives hinge around obvious things like the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment), the government body that has people on the ground to help encourage companies move and get established in the UK.
“There’s very good grant schemes in the UK, something where there’s a bit of a gap here in Australia. There is also an equivalent if not better research and development structure.”
Despite all of that, Andrew says Localz isn’t planning a complete relocation just yet.
“We love Australia,” he says.