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Social dining and intelligent addressing solutions win out at JLAB 2017

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John Lewis and sister company Waitrose are looking to offer new kinds of customer dining experiences and to improve their first-time delivery success rate using technology developed by the two start-up winners of JLAB 2017.

The retailer, a Elite trader in IRUK Top500 research has invested in both social hub WeFiFo, which connects paying diners with home cooks, supper club hosts and professional chefs, and intelligent addressing technology developer Exaactly.

Waitrose ran two trials using Exaactly’s solution, which enables customers to provide information about how to find their address and where to leave a parcel if they’re out. John Lewis is to run another as it explores the ability of the technology to help ensure first-time deliveries.

Meanwhile, both Waitrose and John Lewis are looking into opportunities to host dining experiences and bespoke events using the WeFiFo technology.

John Lewis’ £100,000 investment into the two companies will be matched by its JLAB partner L Marks.

Seni Glaister, chief executive and co-founder of WeFiFo said: “We used our time with JLAB to cement strong foundations and we will now build on these as we enlist the help of the Partnership in our search for and celebration of the country’s most talented home cooks.”

Bea Warner, co-founder and CEO of Exaactly said: “JLAB has given us a peek behind the curtain of two of the country’s biggest retailers and an invaluable insight into how they handle delivery. The opportunity to run two pilots across the Partnership has equipped us with the product know-how we needed to make that final mile of delivery even more straightforward for consumers and retailers. The investment signifies a big step for our business as we prepare for a full launch to market in early January 2018.”

The two winners were among five start-ups that won a 12 week JLAB place. The others were smart grocery shopping app Mucho, which provides personalised recipes and enables customers order the ingredients they need; Journifi which provides customers with personalised in-store experiences such

as tailored personal shopping sessions based on their online behaviour and tastes, and which is continuing to work with the John Lewis Partnership’s group customer insight team. Data analytics from BB1 uses customer behaviour to optimise business working practices. It modelled the customer flow in and around Waitrose’s Cambridge branch and changes over a day, over a year and if a competitor opens.

Paul Coby, CIO at the John Lewis Partnership , said: “All our finalists have benefitted greatly from unprecedented access to two of the UK’s leading retailers. The wider scope of JLAB this year has allowed us to bring together some of the most exciting emerging technology, not just in retail but across grocery too. It’s never been more important for the John Lewis Partnership to nurture innovation both inside and outside our business and we are looking forward to progressing this talent.”

Image caption: The JLAB finalists (excluding WeFiFo)

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