Pusher at Retail Week Hackathon

Last week we were excited to attend and support the first Retail Week Hackathon at the Emirates Stadium in London (the Arsenal football ground for those in the know).

Running alongside Retail Week, an event bringing together the who’s who in the retail industry, the 24-hour hackathon aimed to see what startups and innovative thinkers could do to improve the retail user experience.

The prize? A unique chance to get time in front of the heads of some of the worlds largest retail companies to pitch your idea.

Teams on the day involved people from Halfords and Tesco Labs, to local agencies and startups, to a team who travelled all the way from the Netherlands just for the event. It was a diverse crowd that resulted in a multitude of ideas and varying approaches. It was a pleasure to attend and mentor the teams throughout the day.

What took us by surprise was that nearly every team had some sort of realtime component to their concept. It was great to see realtime technology being used in so many ways, some of which we hadn’t considered or seen before. Most involved realtime communication between mobile devices and physical hardware in a shop (such as low-energy Bluetooth beacons and NFC). Others communicated between mobile devices and browsers, while one ambitious project aimed to communicate between beacons, mobile devices and fitting rooms to create a Minority Report-esque experience.

The different uses of realtime coupled with the time constraint showed just how powerful and practical Pusher is for adding realtime to your application. Our extensive selection of platform libraries allow you to get up and running on nearly any device within minutes, something that proved incredibly valuable to the teams. Not having to worry about how to do realtime allowed the teams focus on the important issue, finishing their concepts.

The winners were Kega, who built a slick experience that aims to reduce the amount of abandoned sales in clothing items due to concerns about things like sizing, material or feel. They used a combination of basket tracking and in-store iBeacons to know when you’ve abandoned a shopping basket online and then detect when you walk by the store. When this happens a semi-personal set of promotional material is shown in the store based on the item in your cart, as well as targeted discounts pushed directly to your phone should you continue to walk on by. The idea being that you are encouraged to walk into the shop and complete the purchase.

You can watch their 3-minute pitch to get the full run through:

Overall, it was a pleasure to mentor the teams and we’re excited to see their ideas turn into a reality. Each and every one of them was a practical idea that, while using cutting-edge technology, could easily be implemented today. You can find out more about the event and the teams involved by checking out the live blog.

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