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These Startups Could Bring Brick-and-Mortar Into the Future

It’s no question that retail is experiencing major changes, but consumers aren’t going to stop shopping anytime soon. XRC Labs startups, including Facenote, WonderMile and ShopShops, are taking brick-and-mortar stores to the future with technology that places the consumer first. From facial recognition to increasing virtual visibility, here’s what startups are doing to advance the capabilities of brick-and-mortar stores.


Digital devices play an important role in the brick-and-mortar experience, since retailers use technology, including beacons, to track consumer activity and send customized promotions to consumers’ smartphones.

Chile-based startup, Facenote, is stepping up this concept with a new kind of facial recognition technology. As a technology platform, Facenote enables retailers to identify consumers in apps, online and in stores by their face.

What makes Facenote ahead of the pack is that the platform doesn’t require any sales associates and it taps into the needs of individual consumers when they visit a store. The platform scans the consumer’s face when they walk into a store and instantly provides them with curated deals on their smartphones. If consumers have privacy concerns, they can also manage Facenote and select the stores they wish to be recognized in.


Going from store to store to find a desired item is tedious, and consumers don’t have time for it these days. Although retailers provide the ability to search for in-stock goods on their websites, it often leaves consumers searching on multiple web browsers, calling stores, experiences long wait times and abandoning their purchase journey.

WonderMile, a Boston-based startup, is making this process more seamless for consumers and retailers.

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The company’s online platform streamlines the browsing and buying process by solely focusing on brick-and-mortar stores. On the platform, consumers can search real-time inventory, receive notifications on discounts and sales, browse for new items in nearby stores and communicate with sales associates. Brick-and-mortar stores also win with this platform, which helps them to drive store traffic, gain new shoppers and fulfill consumer demands when it comes to products.


U.S. brick-and-mortar stores aren’t only frequented by domestic consumers, but achieving global reach isn’t easy in a tough retail scene.

Beijing-based startup, ShopShops, is helping American stores tap into the needs of Chinese consumers with its cross-border O2O e-commerce platform.

According to ShopShops, Chinese shoppers spend more than $100 billion on international clothing purchases. What’s more, the U.S. is one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists, where they spend an average of $18,000 per person, per visit.

ShopShops bridges the gap between Chinese consumers and U.S. brick-and-mortar stores with a personalized shopping experience. The platform allows Chinese consumers to browse for items and shop by location when they visit major cities, including New York and Seattle. Consumers can shop for unique brands and products, while stores gain exposure to a new shopper demographic.