Retail innovation labs are the new way to disrupt the system and get an edge on customer attention.

Digital-dominated platform

To connect with customers in a digital-dominated platform, few of the monumental names in retail are adopting innovation and are forming new labs to seek out new opportunities.

The new way to disrupt the system

Retail innovation labs are the new way to disrupt the system and get an edge on customer attention.

Some brands are putting all their enthusiasm in on digital. From supply chain and inventory improvements to new payment options.

To keep up with the challenging industry, the retailers are looking to labs and accelerators to provide with new ideas, collaborations and partnerships.  

Following is a list of some innovative labs from some of the most recognizable names in retail looking to disrupt their industries.

Walmart’s innovation lab is designed to help them stay competitive.


In this increasingly online and mobile world, Walmart’s innovation lab is designed to help them stay competitive. Their workers are arranged into planning mini businesses, each with their own projects, across various product lines.

While holding the philosophy of Walmart’s low cost, the labs’ main focus is on technology and supply chain as they look to continue their in-store and online shopping experiences.

Through lab, a picking optimization solution was developed to determine the best routes for store employees to pick goods for online orders hence, saving time and reducing errors.


Sephora’s innovation lab is in a converted warehouse near San Francisco’s Mission Bay district. To build and test In-store displays was firstly used, but in 2015, due to the increasingly online facilities, Sephora’s lab focus started to expand to include digital and hence making an easier shopping experience.

Innovation team members work on solutions for web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar applications. The lab even includes a model Sephora store.   

Sephora now has a reality app ‘Sephora virtual artist’ that allows the buyer to try on various types of makeup, from lipsticks to eyeshades, and see what it looks like before they buy the product. Since the app was launched it had users visit this feature almost 9 million times.


With over 400 brands in 190 countries, Unilever foundry works to plot startups and digital marketing, new business model innovation, products and ingredients, enterprise tech and e-commerce and social impact.

Their “Pitch-Pilot-Partner” process helps the foundry to quickly identify startup businesses and collaborate with them quickly, getting innovative ideas to market at a rapid pace and also improving growth across all of Unilever’s brands.

Unilever’s brand Knorr partnered with Novalia and created interactive signage in a result of which the shoppers were able to find recipes and meal solutions which featured Knorr products.


When an idea of new shoe or a piece of technology is introduced in Nike, it is figuratively cooked up in their innovation kitchen. Everything starting from barefoot shoes to activity trackers in an open, laid back space to free thinking, experimentation and self-expression is covered by the inventive team.

The Hyper Adapt sneaker made waves in 2016 when it was released with self-tying laces. The shoes were equipped with sensors, batteries, and a small motor so it could adjust at pressure points.


For people across the globe the world’s largest food company HENRI@nestle is searching for opportunities to make an impact on health, wellness and sustainability for people, this is their goal, and to reach this goal HENRI@nestle is partnering with startups on projects that touch Nestlé’s product lines.

The projects posted are assigned with funding levels of $50000. Startups that apply are then shortlisted and are proceeded further to the next stage. The team will proceed further with the dedicated nestle sponsor after the winning pitch is selected.


To make the purchases easier and more frequent and to help understand how customers shop at M&S the M&S venture lab was designed. Since then, it has kept its digital strategy. It has announced collaboration with Microsoft for the testing of integration of Microsoft AI technologies into M&S’ customer experience” “and Founders Factory as a “joint venture (JV) focused on investing and growing start-ups.”

Try Tuesday is mark and spencer’s online personal stylist tool. Stylists help users pick M&S clothing according to their profile.


L’Oreal, a worldwide known beauty brand has partnered with station F to create an innovative generation of beauty products, devices and digital services. Sources from both inside and outside of the company are searched for partnership for the open innovation project. The selected process would end up going through an on boarding process, a meeting with the executives of international beauty as well as an annual pitching event.

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