Retail and commerce landscape with their emphasis on all things digital have faced massive changes under recent years. With ever growing mix of products, services and speed new aspects of buying have provided sellers endless possibilities to entice customers but also the challenges that come in forms of customer service, paying, inventory and logistics. With all this in mind we began the journey known as OP Smart Commerce Program. Over 100 companies from 20 counties applied and 12 of them were named to spend a week in Helsinki to be mentored by 16 experts, hone their pitches and proposals and wow the judges to be selected as one of the cooperational partners for OP.
Winners Represent Current Commerce Trends
During the final afternoon the teams presented five minute long pitches followed by three minute time slot reserved for questions. The jury decided to continue co-developing with following candidates: Zencard (Customer Loyalty & Payments), Feedbackly (Customer Loyalty), Smartmile (Logistics & Delivery) and Paykey (Money Transfer). Teams were awarded for their insightful pitches representing fresh ideas combined with innovative business concepts.
Zencard´s Krzysztof Klimczak commented their win with great enthusiasm: “This is a dream come true for us. Scandinavian market with its almost cashless societies has long been our target and we are eager to be able to expand outside of Poland. Jaakko Männistö representing Feedbackly as CEO and co-founder mentioned also vast collaboration possibilities among participants; Feedbackly and Zencard see already benefits in mutual collaboration. According to Mia Michelson, Leader of the Business Development in Europe, Paykey is thrilled to bring OP where especially millennial customers are by increasing engagement and regain control of the customer interface. Smartmile concentrates on logistics and delivery of online purchasing and as told by co-founder Aku Happo, the company sees their win as a great way to enter Finnish market and to work closely with local online retail.
In addition to four winners the jury wants to continue collaboration also with Teller and Weps. “Teller with next generation payment solutions and Weps’s expertise on chatbot is something is to be recognised as means of making it in the future landscape of digital commerce”, according to President of the jury Perttu Kröger (Director, Commerce, New Business). “All 12 participating teams of this challenge definitely raised the bar from the previous commerce programs as the overall level was very high in terms of maturity of concepts and accuracy of current trends in the market. I am very pleased with the results”, continues Kröger.
“The Best Corporate Startup Program”
During the week the startups had also many possibilities to interact, learn from each other and give feedback on the OP Smart Commerce Startup Program.
When asked about the biggest lessons of the week, Aleksander Gansen, Shipitwise, replied: “Listen to a customer and his needs. This is not a new lesson but again the biggest one. Also, lean approach is crucial. Your product needs to that good and customer´s problem big enough for him to pay for the solution.”
Juhan Kaarma of Weps adds: “As a startup you should be where the game is the biggest. That is when you really push forward as a company.” Cultural differences both on country and business level were also discussed and Alex Schneider of Rapitag noted Finns´eagerness and openmindness to try and use new innovations and technology.
Feedback on the program was overwhelmingly positive. Many regarded the transparency, speed and attitude towards change of OP exceptional and were able to accomplish as much in four days than what would have normally taken 1-2 months. “OP Smart Commerce Program has been the best corporate startup accelerator program I have experienced”, Johan Kaarma sums up.
OP Smart Commerce Program was organized by OP together with corporate partners K-Group/Kesko, Digia and Posti.
Jury members were Head of OP Lab Kristian Luoma, Director, Commerce, New Business, OP Perttu Kröger, CMO Anni Ronkainen K-Group/Kesko, Business Director, Commerce Timo Halima Digia Plc, Head of Digital Services, Mika Nikkola Posti.