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New Platform Targets the ‘E-Commerce Tax’ for Midmarket Merchants

With so many midmarket direct-to-consumer and B2B brands seeking growth opportunities in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, a former Amazon exec is looking to offer these companies the technical expertise to build out e-commerce systems that can compete with the online retail giant. As CEO of the newly launched “headless commerce” platform Fabric, Faisal Masud hopes to provide more flexibility and customization for retailers across the front and back ends through the power of APIs.

Fabric launched its cloud-native experience and commerce product suite out of stealth mode last month, alongside the announcement that it secured $9.5 million in seed funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from Sierra Ventures and Expa.

The API-first product suite was built to help global commerce brands deliver customer experiences for a cheaper cost and in less time, without having to re-platform entirely or drain valuable engineering resources. The company says it can deploy the platform in a matter of weeks.

With Fabric, Masud wants to mitigate the issues of the “e-commerce tax” that retailers pay in the form of infrastructure, hardware, software fees, and licenses, as well as all the employees and contractors writing custom code every time they need to make a change.

To accomplish this, the suite includes various capabilities that address a breadth of areas across the retail ecosystem such as its Experience Manager (XM), Product Information Manager (PIM), offers and Order Management System (OMS).

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The way the platform is intended to be used can vary depending on the retailer’s needs. Some merchants can use Fabric for the company’s entire stack, while others pick and choose from its suite of commerce APIs to supplement their current technologies.

“Typically retailers end up buying an expensive large implementation, where they’re paying for 100 percent of the product and only using 10 percent of it,” Masud said. “Our core focus here is to provide the flexibility and the enriching of your data across your organization. You have to have a very simple connector and apply it so that you can go and log in right into the existing platform, and that could be anything. We must give retailers an amazing UI so they can drag and drop or use APIs to integrate with us so they can ultimately be able to show off the merchandise with all of that assortment.”

Fabric E-Commerce Platform Launches With $9.5
The Fabric dashboard Fabric

Masud told Sourcing Journal that the platform’s API-driven capabilities serve as Fabric’s biggest advantage, highlighting the XM product as one that can plug and play in different platforms to give users more freedom in how they can present their online experience.

“If you are a retailer selling apparel, the single biggest thing you want is content,” Masud said. “And you want to be able to publish that content over and over again in many different ways and on many different devices, with as much customization as possible. When it comes to an out-of-the-box solution or a more monolith solution, you’re very confined to the templating that they offer. The structure is pretty much the same so the differentiation between retailer A versus retailer B is not that significant because you’re within the four walls of the environment.”

Fabric’s primary focus as of now is on midmarket customers that may feel they have outgrown platforms such as Shopify, which often is used by SMBs, but don’t feel they want to scale up to a platform like Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud. However, Masud made it clear that his tech is looking to complement those platforms and similar ones via its integration capabilities.

In fact, the seed funding will help Fabric build out its integration layer even further so that it is vendor agnostic, according to Masud.

“We want to make that as robust as possible, so you could be on Magento, Shopify, Commerce Cloud or Hybris—we don’t care,” Masud said.

The funding will also be used to bring Fabric’s current slate of apps to maturity and implement new products that cover loyalty, point-of-sale, omnichannel and subscriptions.

Fabric says its clients have generated a threefold improvement in digital commerce revenue with the platform. While the company hasn’t made any apparel partnerships public yet, Fabric says its first retail customers include Abc Carpet & Home, online home improvement retailer BuildDirect and GNC.

As CEO of Fabric and now working alongside one of the company’s co-founders, chief revenue officer Ryan Bartley, Masud’s resume certainly holds up. Masud joined Fabric from Wing, where as chief operating officer he launched the global drone delivery program for major retailers in food and pharmacy. Prior to Wing, he was chief digital officer and later chief technology officer at Staples, responsible for building out the company’s third-party vendor platform, and establishing full omnichannel capability for more than 2,000 North American stores.

In his six years at Amazon, Masud built AmazonWarehouse, Amazon’s reverse logistics platform, and was part of the earlier founding team of the private-label AmazonBasics brand. Masud also held brief stints as vice president of Groupon goods at Groupon and general manager and head of global shipping and fulfillment at eBay.

Alex Bard, partner and managing director at Redpoint Ventures, and Tim Guleri, managing partner at Sierra Ventures, will join Fabric’s board of directors.