Skip to main content

Retail Tech: Instacart Raises $265M, Deliverr Reels In $170M

The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.

Delivery

Deliverr

Deliverr, a fulfillment company and next-day delivery services provider, has raised $170 million in new funding, including proceeds from $135 million in Series D funding led by investment fund Coatue, and a $35 million convertible note led by Brookfield Technology Partners, with participation from existing investors including Activant Capital, 8VC and GLP.

This latest funding round brings Deliverr’s total capital raised to more than $240 million, allowing the company to grow its existing network of 50 warehouses and invest further in its logistics capabilities, more specifically by expanding its next-day delivery coverage in the U.S. to offer what it calls a “Prime-like service” for partner merchants and by launching fast-shipping programs with “leading sales and marketing channels.”

It’s notable that Deliverr doesn’t own any warehouses. It rents out space but operates in them upon a partnership with the warehouse owner.

The company says that its mission is to enable any retailer, regardless of size, to aid their customers with “ultra-fast and cost-effective fulfillment”—noting in a statement that it surpassed all-time highs in order volume throughout the pandemic as people depended on online retailers for essentials, including face masks, vitamins and sanitary products.

In fact, Deliverr said it fulfilled six times more orders through its network in 2020 than the year prior.

Related Stories

Deliverr secured $40 million in funding from a Series C round led by Activant Capital in February, which brought its funding up to $70 million in total at that time.

Instacart

U.S. delivery giant Instacart is considering going public through a direct listing, concerned that it could leave money on the table through a traditional initial public offering (IPO), according to a Reuters report. The decision comes fresh off the heels of the company’s latest fundraising, a $265 million round that now values the company at $39 billion, Instacart said. 

The round comes from existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, D1 Capital Partners and others. Last year, Instacart announced three separate raises, including a $225 million round in June, followed by a $100 million round in July as it entered partnerships with Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Instacart expressed its intent to grow headcount by 50 percent in 2021, and continue to scale and invest in its advertising, marketing and end-to-end commerce solutions. In 2020, the company added more than 200 retailers and more than 15,000 new store locations to the Instacart marketplace. The company also expanded its same-day delivery and pickup offering across several new categories, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, office supplies, electronics, health, beauty and wellness, home decor, sports equipment and more.

The San Francisco-based company still hasn’t decided on how it would go public, the report said. While the delivery giant currently uses more than 500,000 gig workers to fulfill online orders at well-known grocery chains, the company is exploring the use of robotic warehouses to fulfill orders.

Instacart had initially expressed a desire to open as many as 50 robot-driven warehouses across the U.S. in about a year. The company has reportedly been researching ways to automate the picking process. Last spring, Instacart sent out proposal requests to at least five companies that offer robotic systems that would pick goods from purpose-built “dark” warehouses instead of store shelves.

Cross-border logistics

ShipBob

ShipBob, a cloud-based logistics platform for small and medium-sized businesses, has established its first fulfillment center in the U.K. as well as two new domestic sites in the U.S., bringing its total network count to 16 facilities. This marks the third international location for ShipBob, which also hosts fulfillment centers in Ottawa, Canada and in Ireland.

The new warehouse is in Feltham, England, and located close to Heathrow Airport and other major logistics hubs. ShipBob says the location can help customers reduce international shipping costs, improve the customer experience with shorter transit times while removing import duties and tariffs and increase conversions for consumers in the U.K. market, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

ShipBob is partnering with two of the U.K.’s major carriers, Royal Mail and DPD to secure discounted shipping rates and faster delivery times. Using Royal Mail and DPD, the average transit time from ShipBob’s U.K. facility to the majority of the country is one to four business days, the company claims.

With the company citing analyst estimates that Brexit will impact cross-border e-commerce negatively in the U.K., projecting a 7.3 percent decrease in 2021, ShipBob believes the entrance into the market would be beneficial for retailers and consumers alike.

The company’s two new U.S. fulfillment centers are located in Phoenix and Louisville, marking the 12th and 13th ShipBob locations in the country.

Marketing services

Klarna/Toplooks

Klarna is expanding its offering of marketing products and services in an effort to provide retailers with more tools to drive consumer demand, and acquire, convert, and retain customers. The $1 billion fintech company unveiled the changes alongside its news that  Toplooks, an AI-powered technology company that offers shoppable content experiences.

This newly enhanced suite enables retailers and publishers to offer “nearly unlimited” shoppable content in native formats, on their own digital properties, through the Klarna ecosystem, and across the wider internet, including social channels.

The inclusion of the TopLooks technology builds on the acquisition of Search Engine Marketing Sweden and its Semtail and Shoptail services last December. The financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Several brands have already benefited from using Klarna’s retail media services, including the global footwear brand Clarks. Clarks is using Toplooks to deliver customized head-to-toe marketing images across fashion, apparel, beauty, footwear and home décor. This approach allows retailers to create high impact content from existing product imagery, implement dynamic pricing and customize promotional messaging that can be updated in 30-minute cycles.

Clarks says this has resulted in “dramatic” increases in click-through and conversion rates, and higher average order values.

“For almost 200 years, the Clarks family has been making high-quality, stylish, and comfortable footwear across the globe. As that very same world continues to shift to digital communications and online shopping, we are always seeking new and innovative ways to deliver relevant and engaging content to our customers,” said Chris Hardisty, senior vice president, ecommerce for Clarks. “By using AI-powered Dynamic Ads technology, we have been able to achieve highly engaging sponsored ad campaigns on several social media platforms while also delivering significantly improved ROI. These types of results have us excited about our continued partnership and utilization of the Toplooks technology, now that it is a part of core Klarna retailer offerings.”

Returns

Newmine/Microsoft

Newmine, which offers the AI-powered SaaS merchandise returns reduction platform Chief Returns Officer, says it is now a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Chief Returns Officer is built on Microsoft Azure and supports integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce.

The returns solution provider entered its collaboration with Microsoft at a time when more retailers are coping with an unprecedented post-holiday returns season, exacerbated by e-commerce growth due to Covid-19.

The Chief Returns Officer platform is designed to help retailers diminish the problem of product returns with AI-based technologies, such as deep data analytics, natural language processing and prescriptive actions.

E-commerce/Amazon

Jungle Scout

Jungle Scout, a data search engine gathers info that helps vendors on Amazon better sell their products, has raised $110 million in growth capital led by Summit Partners. The money will be used to acquire advertising tech company Downstream Impact, and expand its own software-as-a-service platform to support Walmart.com.

Additionally, Jungle Scout says it will continue to scale its capabilities in advertising and full-scale e-commerce brand management with the funding.

Jungle Scout says its platform supports more than $8 billion in Amazon revenue and serves more than 500,000 brands and entrepreneurs who are working to build successful businesses on Amazon.

In June 2020, Jungle Scout introduced Cobalt, a market intelligence and product insights platform built with the goal to help enterprise brands win the Amazon channel. Cobalt processes more than 1 billion data points daily, and is designed to provide powerful intelligence, including extensive data on market share, segment and trend analysis, competitive insights and content optimization capabilities.

Today, Jungle Scout employs more than 200 team members across 16 countries and expects headcount to double in 2021. The company also opened its second and third offices in China, in Hangzhou and Qingdao, in addition to its office in Shenzhen.

The addition of Downstream Impact will be a huge one as Jungle Scout seeks to add value for Amazon sellers. Downstream manages more than $250 million per year in Amazon advertising spend for some of the world’s largest brands, including HP, Bic and several leading global CPG companies. Its AI-powered automation tools are designed to help brands optimize their advertising campaigns and glean insights to more effectively compete within the Amazon channel.

Understanding ad spend is going to be a key for Jungle Scout going forward, as advertising is Amazon’s fastest-growing business, representing nearly $21.5 billion in annual revenue in 2020, a 66 percent year-over-year increase over 2019.

A Jungle Scout study of nearly 5,000 Amazon sellers reveals that 75 percent use at least one form of Amazon pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. At the same time, 62 percent of sellers are concerned about increasing advertising costs on Amazon.

Buy now, pay later

Zip Co

Zip Co, a “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) platform, will ramp up its expansion in the U.K. despite a government decision to regulate the fast-growing sector, the company has said.

Co-founder Larry Diamond said Homebase, Boohoo and The Fragrance Shop would be among the first retailers to join its U.K. platform, which enables customers to pay for products worth up to $1,000 in interest-free installments.

Diamond said Zip’s global retail partners had asked it to expand beyond Australia and the U.S., where it has 5.7 million customers. The company is targeting 10 million British customers within three years.

Zip was to invest $20 million Australian dollars ($15 million) in the U.K. this year, according to Diamond. A UK federal government review found that the number of BNPL transactions in the country almost quadrupled to 2.7 billion pounds ($3.7 billion) in 2020.

As part of the regulation, signed in on Feb. 2, lenders will be required to carry out affordability checks on customers and ensure that customers are treated fairly, particularly those who are vulnerable or struggling with repayments.

Drone delivery

GoFor/Aurora Aerial

GoFor Industries, a last-mile, on-demand and same-day delivery and logistics solutions provider, has partnered with Aurora Aerial, a company that creates remotely piloted aircraft solutions.

As part of an overall approach to revolutionize last-mile delivery operations, this partnership is designed to strengthen GoFor’s presence in the logistics industry by offering improved delivery performance in a fast and eco-friendly seeks to provide a new option for businesses in the goal of radically changing and improving delivery speed and experience for their customers.

GoFor and Aurora Aerial’s partnership will be piloted in Canada before expanding to GoFor’s other operating markets. The drones used will be compliant with Canadian regulations, particularly Part IX, which covers remotely piloted aircraft systems and are compliant for operation within controlled airspace in defined areas per local guidelines.

This partnership is designed to streamline the process for fleet operators to leverage drones for replenishment and secure last mile delivery. The technologies also look to benefit the end customer via integrated tracking updates coupled with swift, reliable and secure delivery.

Additionally, the collaboration is intended to spur cost-effective and eco-friendly last-mile delivery by reducing gas consumption and alleviating road congestion. This could enable small businesses, restaurants and shopping malls to complete aerial delivery in compliance with area restrictions.

In December, GoFor closed a $20 million CAD ($26.7 million) Series A growth investment to continue its ongoing expansion into the U.S. It operates under the promise “Get it Delivered Now” in that it is designed to help retailers deliver any package, regardless of size, locally within three hours. Small companies can use GoFor’s outsourced truck fleets and web-based scheduling solutions, while larger businesses can supplement and scale their own existing fleets, and link to GoFor’s logistics system.

E-commerce investments

Interlace Ventures

Interlace Ventures, a firm aimed at investing exclusively in early stage commerce infrastructure companies, has expanded its team with two commerce technology luminaries. Joining Interlace as venture partners will be b8ta co-founder and CEO Vibhu Norby and Avise vice president of finance and operations Sydney Werber.

Norby joins Interlace Ventures to support the fund’s portfolio and expand its network. He is a Y Combinator alumnus and previously a lead engineer at Nest Labs, which was acquired by Google in 2014. He will retain his current position as CEO & co-founder of b8ta, the retail-as-a-service company that has launched thousands of products in retail stores including Macy’s and Lowe’s.

Werber brings background in finance, social and video commerce to Interlace, which she honed as vice president of strategy and finance at ShopShops, a global livestream shopping platform. She will support the investment practice of the company while retaining her role as at Avise, a financial SaaS platform. A seasoned angel investor and executive with experience in new digital commerce between the U.S. and China, she will help Interlace Ventures deepen its expertise in social commerce while widening its global footprint.

Interlace Ventures invests in pre-seed and seed-stage commerce companies, but has a very particular and ambitious goal—identifying and funding the next Shopify in its early stages. The firm is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and some of the largest entities in retail, fashion and consumer packaged goods.

The firm also seeks out companies that are run by more diverse leadership to reflect the reality of modern shoppers—55 percent of its portfolio companies are led by women, immigrants or people of color.

In addition to strategic capital, Interlace Ventures offers its portfolio access to executives at global brands such as Mars, Inc. The fund has created a Commerce Platform which gives corporations and e-commerce websites access to innovative commerce technologies.