These Startups Are Solving the Biggest Challenges in Enterprise Retail

The bulk of global retailers are focused intensively on improving their customer-facing loyalty, omnichannel, mobile retail, and experience initiatives.

The industry’s true innovators are instead turning their attention to the supply chain—and the back-end technologies that support it—as the new differentiator for successful enterprise companies.

“There are a lot of enterprise retail giants out there, but in the end there are still massive pain points in the industry, and it requires a lot of innovation to keep up with that.”


Ryan Broshar is the Managing Director at Techstars Retail, a three-month intensive startup accelerator focused on bringing new technology, experiences, products, and solutions to retail.

The majority of Broshar’s work now centers around software platforms that help power retail on the back-end.

“Front-end technologies… ultimately aren’t helping retailers keep up with the pace of innovation, most of which is now handling in supply chains, logistics, and other back-end systems.”

When recruiting the brightest startup retail tech companies, only ten have the opportunity to move operations to Techstars Retail’s headquarters— at the corporate HQ of their retail partner, Target Corporation —for Broshar’s brand-building experience.

According to Broshar, the pace-of-play for a startup is so much faster than any corporation. It can keep pace with trends, iterate ideas, and bring technology to market much more quickly. “They don’t have to run through the bureaucracy of a larger organization, which can be a huge advantage,” he says.

Startup Innovation Arrives

At Future Stores Miami, Broshar spoke on the keynote panel Fail Fast, Learn Fast: Obtaining A Start Up Mentality To Spark Continuous Innovation.


“Retail is the largest industry in the world, but when you think about the disruption that has to happen because of consumer trends and new technologies coming to market—it’s a ‘mad science’ of an industry that’s going to be completely different 15 years from now.”

He highlighted the mistakes of established retailers who fail to learn from the “authentic, more nimble retail startups who are invading the market,” and provided insight into how those organizations can successfully test new ideas, learn from their failures, and capitalize on major shifts in the retail landscape instead of react to them.

“Some of the systems on the back-end side are very archaic among major retailers, and there are a lot of opportunities on that front,” says Broshar.

Future of Back-End Technologies

Currently, Techstars Retail is investing in machine learning and predictive analytics technologies to help retailers predict demand based on thousands of inputs, as opposed to retailers’ existing practice of looking at only a handful of data points and historic sales.

Broshar observes that even with major retailers, it’s difficult to implement new systems without complete executive buy-in—difficult to achieve considering the level of investment for these retailers. “At Future Stores, I offered my startup perspective and quickly saw the disparity between the large-retail view of the future and the start up view,” he says.

Future Stores Seattle

Check out the new speakers and sessions coming to Future Stores Seattle in June. See the agenda here.

Chris Rand is Digital Content Manager for WBR Digital. He specializing in business writing for cloud, ecommerce, CRM, CMS, data quality, and mobile technologies; as well as retail, supply chain, and finance.

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