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Retailers Unite To Combat Amazon Entry, Launch Innovation Accelerator

Retail industry body NORA (National Online Retailers Association) has partnered with corporate accelerator, Slingshot, to launch Australia’s first retail technology program which will develop ideas to solve the problems faced by the nation’s largest retail players.

The partnership intends to collaborate with up to four major Australian retailers, payment or logistics organisations, to run the accelerator with NORA. The idea is to kick-start innovation in the retail industry prior to Amazon’s Australian entry.

Paul Greenberg, NORA Founder and Executive Director, states that the accelerator program will allow incumbent retailers to access industry-leading innovation, without outlaying any major investment up front:

“Even at the big end of town [retailers] can’t compete with the $US17 billion Amazon spends on research and development”

“It’s actually been a catalyst for mobilisation. Amazon have shaken it up and I’m quite bullish about the landscape and not as concerned about the retail apocalypse, but this is the time for action”.

Karen Lawson, Slingshot’s Chief Executive, mentioned the frustration startups feel towards the pace of change being hampered by household Aussie retailers not recognising that many startups were helping “grow the pie” for all retailers.

“You can look at the valuation of the start-up … but what is the ripple and the impact. You can drop a pebble in a pond and there are huge economic benefits”, Ms Lawson remarked, using Afterpay as an example.

The accelerator program would run for about 12 months, and would be capped at ten start ups. Slingshot plans to invest a maximum of $130,000 in the companies for a 10% stake, inclusive of a $30,000 up front investment, and the remaining $100,000 put into the start up as it matures.

Historically, the organisation says it receives between 200 to 500 applications per each intake.

Speaking of the partnership with Nora, Ms Lawson remarked:

“Paul Greenburg’s involvement was really key for us, because we need to be able to get in front of these retail leaders so they understand what we’re doing … there’s still a big education piece”.

She states that whilst Slingshot works with companies as Qantas, Seek and Lion, many individuals at the C-Suite level “lack knowledge…  around what an accelerator is and how they can help operations grow. Having leaders like Alan Joyce and companies like Lion on board have helped that”.

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