LONDON, United Kingdom — British department store John Lewis has announced the launch of a year-long incubator for startups and established brands looking to tackle challenges across the food and lifestyle sectors.
JLAB, an innovation project first launched in 2014, will see innovative startups pitch to the retailer for mentorship, office space and potential investment. Alongside food retailer Waitrose, which joined the JLAB programme in 2017, John Lewis will look for customer-facing, digital propositions that provide customers with advice and inspiration that make it easier for them to lead healthy lifestyles and eat more healthily. These new business ideas will complement a raft of initiatives Waitrose is currently launching, which aim to make it easier for customers to make healthy choices.
Speaking about the initiative, Futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership, John Vary explained: “As more and more businesses face digital disruption, it’s increasingly important for the partnership to stay committed to the ideals of our Founder, John Spedan Lewis, by experimenting and nurturing innovation both inside and outside our business.
The retailer, which recognises the importance of focusing on the themes it argues are the most significant to its customers, as well as the future of retail, will be searching for ideas that support consumers in reaching their health and wellbeing aspirations. It is hoped the accelerator will also find solutions that improve in-store customer experiences and tackle some of the challenges faced by the supermarket in an increasingly digital era.
“We all know how essential a healthy diet is to both our physical and emotional wellbeing, and the importance diet plays in maintaining good health. We also know that it can be difficult to eat a healthy diet of tasty, wholesome food. Waitrose wants to make that easier, simpler, and more convenient,” reads a statement on the JLAB website.
Run in association with retail and consumer sector specialist True, JLAB 2018 follows on from successful investments made off the back of the 2017 programme. Both WeFiFo, which connects home chefs, supper club hosts and professional chefs with paying guests and Exaactly, an intelligent addressing system that aims to put an end to failed deliveries, continue to work closely with the John Lewis Partnership to grow their businesses.
“As technology and omni-channel has changed customer expectations, experience has become a huge part of food shopping, and this is something Waitrose wants to work on through JLAB. This is about enabling Waitrose to see what the opportunities are around experiential shopping and food services,” explained Sarah Venning, IT and Strategy Director at John Lewis.