The Leading 100
The Lead’s Head of Research breaks down the selection process & key takeaways from 2019’s winning technology start-ups.
BY: Awais Khan
The Leading 100 not only recognizes break-out technology companies but also acknowledges the collective trends and best-practices that signal to where the fashion and retail industry is headed.
AR, voice shopping and drone deliveries are in a transitory phase but will go mainstream in the next few years.
Advances in deep learning and computer vision technology will enable more retailers to adopt ‘Amazon Go’ kind of cashier-less experiences.
- By understanding which companies are breaking out from the pack, we hope the fashion and retail community can develop a stronger sense of where the industry is really going next.
The Leading 100 is the third research list in our editorial calendar and the one we are perhaps most proud of. We began with The Defiant 25, looking at executives across iconic brands and retailers pushing innovation and risk-taking in their respective organizations. Then we released The Foremost 50, recognizing privately held, high-growth digital native vertical brands from across apparel, accessories, footwear, beauty, and home. And now we turn our attention to The Leading 100, a list of the break-out technology start-ups driving innovation at each layer of the value chain —- including marketing, e-commerce, in-store technology, payments, supply chain, manufacturing, design & sustainability.
Collectively, these three lists help us triangulate on what is driving the future of the fashion and retail industry. From the people to the brands to the technology – this is the industry’s next generation.
The Leading 100 list, and the learnings taken from the research have different value for different readers. For investors, it’s a look at top performers. For CEOs, it’s a snapshot of the landscape. For brands and retailers, it’s an opportunity to see tomorrow’s challenges being solved by start-ups today. For everyone, The Leading 100 not only recognizes break-out technology companies but also acknowledges the collective trends and best-practices that signal to where the fashion and retail industry is headed.
The fashion and retail industry is rapidly moving toward digital centricity and the most innovative start-ups are solving the most pressing issues for today’s fashion brands and retailers — while creating high-growth businesses that offer outsized opportunity upside for investors.
Companies from across the industry value chain were considered and selected. The process included a detailed look at each company’s business with a focus on innovation, market opportunity, media buzz, team, commercialization, competition & investor value creation.
While these companies are in growth mode today, the technologies they are incubating will be main-stream in just a few year’s time. By understanding which companies are breaking out from the pack, we hope the fashion and retail community can develop a stronger sense of where the industry is really going next.
The Leading 100 offers dozens of insights and future indicators for the industry. We are pleased to share with you a few:
- Robots will be the new employees of fulfillment centers.
- AR, voice shopping and drone deliveries are in a transitory phase but will go mainstream in the next few years.
- Supply chain, shipping, and warehousing are ripe for disruption.
- Advances in deep learning and computer vision technology will enable more retailers to adopt ‘Amazon Go’ kind of cashier-less experiences.
Taken together, we identified nine challenges that an outsized percentage of The Leading 100 are aiming to address. They are —
- Shipping and fulfillment services, storage, cross-border
- Financing the purchase of products and pay over time
- Providing alternate/sustainable materials
- Reducing shipping times
- Facilitating cross border commerce
- Providing enhanced shopping experiences
- Seamless checkouts and in-store experiences
- Enhanced marketing solutions
When looking at these companies, we paid special attention to their business models, market opportunity and funding. It’s a crowded field. That said, it was important for us to select companies that are on a strong path of commercialization and are approaching exit velocity, so that we can be confident that they will not only be here in a couple of years but have the longevity to have an outsized impact on the industry.
In addition to The Leading 100, The Lead would like to recognize two companies that we are keeping an eye on. Company #101 is Afterpay, which is a category leader but not eligible due to being a publicly traded company on the Australian Stock Exchange. The Lead recognizes Shopin as 2019’s Moonshot of the Year.
See the full list here.
Nominate a company for the 2020 list here.