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Retail the prime focus for proptech innovators

2 July 2018

The most interesting company in retail real estate is neither a retailer nor a property firm.

Newly floated OneMarket aims to revolutionise shopping through the use of big data at a global level, creating a network of collaborating retailers and retail venues.

In June, OneMarket was spun out from Westfield-Unibail-Rodamco, the world’s largest retail property developer. OneMarket was established last year from Westfield Labs and Westfield Retail Solutions, which were internal innovation engines for the Australian retail giant.

However, Westfield felt the advantages of new technology were much greater when applied more widely than just to its own shopping centres and their tenants. “Retailers, brands and venues need to come together to unlock the power of shared consumer knowledge to deliver more innovative, more engaging shopping experiences. Collaboration is today’s competitive advantage,” the company says.

The company is focusing on key areas including: identifying consumers, communicating with consumers, location data and what it calls “logic capabilities”, algorithms which can use that data to provide “predictive insights” about consumer behaviour to participants in its network.

OneMarket has so far launched five products, including live receipts, which creates interactive digital receipts, which allow retailers and shopping venues to engage shoppers after a transaction both online and in-store, and a shopper profile product which will allow retailers and malls to “access and download individual shopper profiles of consumers with a unique identifier and multiple behavioural and purchase attributes”.

The company is mainly targeting malls and retailers in the US and Western Europe, but is expected to turn its attention to Asia Pacific, where consumers are mobile-savvy and inclined to share their information, in time.

However the company’s major challenge – in common with many other tech firms – is that it is burning cash at a rate of A$6.9m per month. The post-demerger cash pile of A$166m will last until the end of next year, but OneMarket may raise more equity before then.

It’s not just OneMarket, a substantial part of the proptech business is focusing on the retail sector, the first segment of the real estate market to take a hit from e-commerce and thus a sector which has had to be ahead of the game.

Chinese firms Dalian Wanda, Tencent Holdings, and Gaopeng plan to launch a tech joint venture “that will integrate online and offline businesses”. The trio’s plans are not dissimilar to OneMarket’s, in that they plan to network offline shopping data from Wanda Plazas with online data from Tencent’s social media and e-commerce platforms.

Meanwhile, US proptech private equity firm Fifth Wall Ventures has just raised $60m for a new retail proptech-focused vehicle. In the past, Fifth Wall has raised equity from real estate firms including Hines and Prologis.

Further reading:
Savills UK Insights and Opinions – Proptech fever sweeps the industry as investors brace for the next big thing in 2018