Current activity.

April 2018 - John Lewis Partnership: JLAB retail tech innovation programme.


True is the new delivery partner for John Lewis Partnership’s retail tech innovation programme, JLAB, for 2018.

For the first time in its five year history JLAB will run throughout the year rather than as a one-off 12 week innovation programme – and there will now be three chances in 2018 for both established businesses and new startups to participate, with the first pitch focused on health and wellbeing.

True is supporting the John Lewis Partnership to deliver its programme. Applications to pitch ideas can be made via the JLAB website ( and will close for the first challenge at midnight on 25th May 2018. The John Lewis Partnership and True will then select a small group to pitch in June 2018. The successful business or businesses will be announced at a showcase later on in the year.

Mike Tattersall, Chief Commercial Officer of True comments: “We are delighted to be extending and deepening our relationship with the John Lewis Partnership as JLAB evolves into an all-year round innovation programme. True’s Leading Industry Partnership programme continues to expand both in the UK and internationally and is squarely focused on delivering bespoke, innovative and, crucially, commercial outcomes for our Partners in the retail and consumer sectors. As the pace of change accelerates in both technology and consumer behaviour, our broad viewpoint and ability to create reciprocal advantage across our Live Network, of startup innovators, fast-paced digitally-forward companies, and multi-billion dollar enterprises is increasingly valuable to all our stakeholders.”

Jan 2018 - UCL School of Management, Academic & Entrepreneurial Alliance.

True delivered a guest lecture on the subject of Retail & Consumer Innovation to the UCL School of Management students undertaking an Msc in Entrepreneurship. This is the first part of our activity for the Academic & Entrepreneurial Alliance with UCL that was established in November.

The lecture was the first of five that will be delivered by a member of the True Live Network, for those students taking the Retail & Consumer Entrepreneurship module.

During the semester we will also be welcoming the group to our offices to showcase our entrepreneurial hub and operations first hand.



Dec 2017 - True Trade Mission with the Department for International Trade.

We hosted ten UK-based startups on a Trade Mission to New York with the UK Department for International Trade resulting in over 70 purposeful introductions.

The Trade Mission showcased the latest technologies coming out of the UK to 13 of the US’s biggest retail and consumer goods groups, which collectively posted over $100bn in revenue last year. The enterprise-ready startups met with these large-scale corporates to discuss ways in which they can support in areas such as personalisation, digital marketing, in-store experience, product discovery, point of sale and payments, geo-searching, customer feedback and consumer analytics.

The Trade Mission came at a time when eight of True’s startup innovators had undergone fresh rounds of funding, cumulatively raising in excess of £6.5 million in funding rounds. Hoxton Analytics, Localistico, Mishipay, and Photospire – which all participated in the trade mission – together with  ADAY, All Shades Covered, Placed and VITL will use the funds to invest in a variety of activities including product development, range expansion, scaling of teams and the improvement of operations.


Nov 2017 - Landsec: True Retail Customer Experience Challenge.

True launched the Retail Customer Experience Challenge with Landsec, searching for startups focused on enhancing consumers’ visits to shopping centres and retail parks.

Today, people expect more from their shopping experience than ever before. Retail centres must go beyond convenience and choice to become destinations that provide truly memorable days – and nights – out. The effective use of insight and data to enrich the retail experience is an area of growing strategic importance and Landsec helps retailers across the UK give their customers the best possible experience.

Landsec and True targeted startups which had pioneering ideas on some – or all – aspects of the following areas:

  • The information and services accessible to consumers before and after their visit to the physical retail environment
  • The range of services available to consumers within the retail environment, including modern, technologically-enabled concierge services
  • Unique dining and leisure experiences within shopping centres and retail parks
  • Technologies to improve the process of arriving, navigating and leaving the retail centre, including car parks
  • Personalisation of the in-venue retail and leisure experience, including initiatives that will engage all the senses
  • Enhancements to the physical environment within the retail destination

True presented 30 of the most applicable businesses to Landsec.

July 2017 - John Lewis: True Retail Logistics Challenge

True and the John Lewis Partnership launched the Retail Logistics Challenge aimed at attracting startups focused on providing solutions to logistical challenges within retail.

The convenience of propositions such as Amazon Prime has now become almost common currency in the retail market. Consequently, as customers’ expectations continue to rise, fast, same-day or even hourly delivery is increasingly demanded. Indeed, the development of the John Lewis Partnership’s Click & Collect service has become an important growth driver in recent years and remains a significant opportunity, leveraging the company’s convenient locations and unrivalled brand trust. Yet, with 35% of global consumers considering using 1 hour delivery (Mintel, 2016), and with this trend set to rise, future-facing retailers are striving to develop rapid fulfilment capabilities as a means of supporting further growth in demand and faster turn of inventory.

With this in mind, we searched for innovative startups to improve some or all aspects of the following areas:

  • The flexibility, reliability, efficiency and pace of the supply chain from manufacturer to customer
  • Faster and more efficient order to delivery fulfilment e.g. last mile delivery innovation, bespoke order visibility, effective ways to update customers on progress of deliveries, more “eco-friendly” deliveries etc.
  • Premium fulfilment i.e. differentiated services or a high-end service proposition
  • Shrinkage reduction i.e. lowering the level of waste in the supply chain
  • IoT (Internet of Things) in supply chain e.g. Smart product IDs – Product or IDs which know what they are made of, where they originated, when they expire etc.
  • More efficient returns capability for the benefit of consumers and subsequent returns processing
  • The speed and flexibility of the Click & Collect service

We attracted just under 50 applications from across the globe, as far afield as South America and Japan.



Feb 2017 - Morrisons: True Retail Productivity Challenge

True launched the inaugural Retail Productivity Challenge with Morrisons to find young companies which provide answers to retail’s productivity challenges. Driving productivity improvements is critical to delivering growth across the entire UK economy and is a specific focus for many retailers. From promoting service quality, customer interaction and culture, to modernising inventory management, productivity impacts operational effectiveness and the overall customer experience. Within the grocery sector, this is even more prevalent due to the rapid turnover of stock, high customer footfall and growing demands around convenience and purchase efficiencies that customers increasingly expect as standard.

Morrisons and True searched for startups which could help improve:

  • Processes linked intrinsically to serving customers better and providing even better value for them
  • Operational effectiveness (e.g. streamlining processes and eliminating wasted effort in areas such as merchandising and replenishment; staff scheduling; eliminating wasted effort on checkouts; enhancing the customer experience)
  • Colleague engagement and empowerment to further invest in people (e.g. flexible shift rostering; employee benefits; colleague communication; output and service quality; culture)
  • Supply chain and logistics management

The Retail Productivity Challenge attracted 40+ applicants globally.