Companies that allow consumers to crowdfund gifts, facilitate smoother parcel delivery and use AI to improve the online customer experience are among the start-ups selected for a new fashion technology accelerator programme.
The programme is run by ASOS, one of the world’s leading fashion destinations for 20-somethings, and Wayra UK, part of Telefónica Open Future_. The companies work together to find and accelerate technology start-ups that could potentially help ASOS improve its experience to its customer base of more than 12 million worldwide.
The three start-ups that have been selected will now join the Wayra UK accelerator programme, where they will receive access to services, including mentoring from experienced coaches to help scale all aspects of their business, as well as access to an extensive investor network.
The companies will also receive office space within Wayra UK’s academy in Central London, as well as investment and access to ASOS and Telefónica’s local and global networks and customer bases.
The accelerator programme is part of ASOS’s wider commitment to supporting up-and-coming talent, along with ASOS Supports x Talent, announced in September, and ASOS Fashion Discovery, with winners announced earlier in November.
The companies selected to join the programme include:
• action.ai, which is building the world’s first truly smart conversational interfaces, leveraging the company’s award-winning technology platform
• Wishround, a social payments and group purchasing engine for e-commerce. Wishround adds value to online merchants and cuts returns by providing an e-gifting platform that is part of the checkout process, allowing users to crowdfund expensive gifts
• Xpreso, a delivery solutions company whose technology eliminates the “Sorry We Missed You” card that customers receive when they aren’t home to accept a delivery. The outcome is a more convenient delivery experience for customers and increased productivity for the delivery companies
Cliff Cohen, ASOS CIO, said: “Fashion evolves incredibly quickly, as does technology, and we need to be ahead of trends in both sectors in order to best serve our customers and partners. These start-ups are each on the cutting-edge of fashion tech, and I hope that as a result of this accelerator programme they will not only disrupt existing processes, but also help ASOS in its mission to get the most exciting products to the consumer, in the most effective way.”
With more than 85,000 products on ASOS, 4,000 new items added every week and an average of 3.6 million visits daily, ASOS and Wayra UK have searched for smart technologies to accelerate the pace of innovation within the fashion technology space, making the customer experience easier, more enjoyable, and more personalised.
One of the key motivators behind the partnership is the fit with Telefónica as a global digital telecommunications company. With mobile now accounting for 51% of ASOS’s sales, Wayra UK’s dedicated business development team will work closely with Telefónica’s operating businesses to find product market fit for the start-ups selected.
Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK, said: “The UK is a leader in fashion technology, as shown by the rise of ASOS itself – one of the country’s biggest start-up success stories. Now, these companies have the opportunity to follow the ASOS example and build their businesses with the help of world-leading expertise, hopefully developing with time into e-commerce giants themselves. I can’t wait to see their progress.”
John Taylor, CEO of action.ai, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the Wayra UK programme and think it will be of great benefit to us. action.ai is already benefitting from the tremendous network that Telefonica and ASOS provide, along with very high quality advice and support as our business scales.”