Universal Basket & Knyttan – Techstars’ Selection of the Best in UK Retail Tech

Here are two great ideas for solving real but very different problems for retail: how to make affiliate purchases and how to economically mass customise fashion. Both were showcased at last week’s Techstars Demo Day and are looking for investment.

Universal Basket

There are many sites that aggregate and curate products but can’t actually sell them. When shoppers click on something they like, they are sent (via an affiliate network) to the brand owner’s site to make the purchase.

This is often a poor customer experience. You can’t buy products from more than one brand at the same time and the hand-off process can be clunky, resulting in quite a lot of drop-outs. The brand owner makes fewer sales and the aggregator loses commission.

Universal Basket has come up with a way of allowing shoppers to make multiple purchases directly from the aggregator site. Details are sketchy but if it works, this is a real winner for the aggregators. Not only will they sell more products and have happier customers, but brand owners will pay higher commission to affiliates that actually make sales rather than just generate leads. We’re talking 40% vs 6%. Big money.

Some of the larger aggregators have begun building their own technology. Examples include Lyst’s Express Checkout and Keep’s OneCart. The closest concept to Universal Basket seems to be TwoTap which has raised $2.7m and claims to be able to improve mobile conversion rates 6-10 times.

Knyttan

An industrial knitting machine takes two days to programme. Hence, production runs need to be in batches of at least 50 to be economic.

Knyttan has found a way of reducing this time to minutes and so can produce bespoke pieces at mass-market prices. This is highly attractive to the designers who now have a way of getting smaller collections to market bypassing the traditional middle-men of the industry. Result: more choice for shoppers at better value.

Knyttan claim now to have more designers on their books than Zara. The Techstars audience was really excited about that. Watch the video. Then visit their store in Somerset House.

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