Innovating Retail in 2017: Tulip Retail, Lightspeed, Shopify and Flipp

The way Canadians buy products and services has changed immensely, even over the past few years. A rise in contactless spending, virtual assistants, new ways to utilize e-commerce and more has maximized the way consumers make the most of their dollars.

The Canadian Innovation Awards’ Retail & Hospitality category aims to recognize more than just companies with large bottom-lines—these are organizations that are reinventing e-commerce, spending habits, and retail platforms, leading the industry and setting examples competitors will follow for years.


Retail shopping—especially grocery shopping—was never really broken, but that didn’t stop Flipp from fixing it. The retail technology platform works with some of the largest retailers in the world, including Walmart and CVS, to help them transform their digital presence and connect with tens of millions new shoppers.

Flipp allows shoppers to search product deals through digital store flyers, match and save coupons, price-match sale items and more. It is a major method for both new and firmly entrenched retailers to find a new audience online, especially in the coveted markets involving younger generations.

“Flipp is at the forefront of retail innovation. We work with the largest retailers and manufacturers in the world to help them transform their business and connect with tens of millions of shoppers through the next generation digital shopping marketplace. The award-winning Flipp app is used by millions of shoppers, changing the way people shop and save every day.”

The Toronto-company continually innovates in the retail space and fast became one of the most used and trusted apps shoppers depend on when heading out to grab necessities. Millions use the platform every single week to make better decisions, saving 20 to 40 per cent off their bills.

Over the past 12 months, Flipp was named (once again) by Waterstone as one of the country’s most admired corporate cultures. The company’s 400-plus employees develop and market everything in-house, and over the past two years the app has seen an increase in usage of 850 per cent, leading to a fourth-place finish in terms of the U.S.’s fastest growing apps in 2017.


One of the few true Canadian unicorns, Shopify is a company that consistently pushes what the word “retail” means—not just because they’re great at it, but because they are empowering millions around the world to be great at it too. The company is based in Ottawa and is so prolific it is almost single-handedly bringing the city to the forefront of Canada’s tech scene.

Shopify is a world-leading cloud-based omnichannel commerce platform. In layman’s terms, Shopify helps entrepreneurs, artists, hobbyists, and anyone with an internet connection set up their own retail outlets online, offering a checkout service, support staff, branding, and so much more.

“From partnerships with Buzzfeed and Instagram, to launching Shopify Pay and our Chip & Swipe Card Reader, 2017 marked an incredible year of innovation for Shopify. The company will continue exploring the future of retail and leveraging technology such as AR to ensure every entrepreneur has access to the tools they need for today and tomorrow.”

It’s not just small businesses either: of the more than 500,000 retailers in 175 countries Shopify powers, massive brands like Red Bull, Nestle, Kylie Cosmetics and more trust the e-commerce behemoth with their products, showing how great and detail-oriented retail should be available not just for the billion-dollar conglomerates, but for everyone with a dream.

Through 2017, Shopify unleashed so many updates it would make a marketing manager’s head spin. From new merchant-facing options like the branding-buddy Hatchful and the QR code generator Shopcodes to partnerships with UPS and eBay, Shopify is always busy—a trend that will likely continue well into 2018 and beyond.


Finding the best way to sell a product can be nearly as hard as finding a product to sell. Lightspeed makes one of the most effective point-of-sale (POS) systems in the world, but the Montreal company is much more than that.

Lightspeed allows customers to build, scale and manage their business in a simple way. If the POS can track and keep up with shopping and dining easily, it lets retailers focus on other ways to innovate, whether it’s through the products and services they offer, or through further physical and online expansion.

“Lightspeed is a leader in the retail and restaurant tech industry. Our powerful and easy-to-use POS platform ignites city streets by enabling local businesses to increase revenue, continue to innovate, and ultimately deliver an extraordinary shopping or dining experience.”

Over 50,000 retailers and restaurants in 100 countries use Lightspeed, resulting in over $15 billion USD in transactions processed each year. The company has expanded to 600 people and has offices around the world.

Lightspeed secured one of the biggest headlines of 2017 by landing a $207 million funding round in October, the biggest venture capital deal for any Canadian company that year. The company has continually updated their platform with new features in 2017 and landed a few massive partnerships along the way as well.

Tulip Retail

Retail isn’t always about the product being sold. Sometimes it’s about the talent of selling, and the ability to make a workers’ life as easy as possible. Tulip Retail is dedicated to store associate empowerment, combining the best parts of the online shopping experience right to the brick-and-mortar floor.

Tulip Retail’s mobile application platform transform what in-store customers experience when shopping, driving sales, improving services and lowering operational costs. Salespeople can have all the information about a product they need right at their fingertips, allowing for informed purchases and lowering time spent in inventory purgatory.

“Leading retailers use the Tulip Retail mobile application platform to help their workers deliver an unparalleled omnichannel shopping experience.”

When a company partners with Apple, it means they have the technology and innovation factors locked down. When they partner with Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Coach, and other well-known brands, it means they have the retail and style aspect in-check. Combine both into one streamlined platform that still places pride on physical in-person shopping and the talent of front-facing employees, and that’s Tulip Retail.

This past August, Tulip Retail secured $50 million in funding to help them channel international growth. The company has exploded form 17 employees at the start of 2016 to close to 300 by the end of 2017, and CEO Ali Asaria’s goal of becoming a $100 billion revenue company seems like it could be a real possibility.

Vote for your favourite

Which of these innovating and sector-defining companies do you believe should win the 2017 Canadian Innovation Awards Retail & Hospitality category? Make sure you vote for your favourites before February 2 at midnight to have your say in which companies should win.

The winners will be announced at the live gala on February 22 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.