Daily Consumer #10 - A Quick Reflection Now That We’re Ten Posts In
Plus a look into attribution challenges for marketers and updates about some of the major ecommerce platforms.
A Quick Reflection Now That We’re Ten Posts In
No feature piece this week. Instead, I want to thank you for being a subscriber and encourage you to share any feedback on how I can make this a better read. My two KPIs are 1) total subscribers and 2) open rate. Hopefully I can keep making progress.
Ecommerce Week LA is happening 9/27-10/1.
Curtsy is looking for an introduction to a creative agency to help produce video ads.
Italic is looking for people to test something that they are launching.
The WSJ profiles Instacart’s efforts to grow advertising revenue.
Brands are struggling to make performance marketing work given privacy changes that limit targeting.
Facebook is aware of attribution issues for marketers and is trying to convince some marketers to direct ‘approximately 10%’ of the traffic generated by their conversion ads to their brand’s Facebook and Instagram Shops instead of a third-party link. If Facebook can have the conversion event happen on its platform, it can accurately attribute it. More here.
Agencies. Huge’s new CEO, Mat Baxter, is increasingly focusing on digital channels and helping brands leverage first-party data. “No agency can be a serious agency unless it can identify, analyze and connect with an audience through the mechanism that increasingly allows that to happen: data.”
Apparel. Stitch Fix launches Freestyle, a feature that creates a customized store for every shopper using machine learning. Stitch Fix is trying to go beyond the box (which they fill with 5 items they think their customer will like) and also sell items one-off to their customers. “This entire experience is powered by the data Stitch Fix has collected over the past 10 years of curating boxes of clothes for clients.”
Artificial Intelligence. JC Penney is partnering with AI startup Metrical to improve its online customer experience. "The beauty of Metrical's predictive AI is that it sits quietly in the background, observing customers' behavior and at the precise moment in time– when it predicts someone is going to leave the site, it makes a recommendation that moves the shopper along the ideal customer journey toward purchasing."
Augmented Reality Glasses. Xiaomi launches its own smart glasses that have cameras embedded. Similar to the Facebook x Ray Ban glasses that were launched last week.
Beauty. Amazon will hold a big beauty event in October.
Monzo, a UK-based neobank, enters the BNPL space by offering the capability, called Flex, to its card holders. Will give its 5M users a $4K BNPL limit that can be used for purchases over $40. The BNPL advance is free if repaid in 3 installments.
Revolut, a UK-based neobank, announces plans to offer BNPL capabilities to its card holders as well. “The product will simply be a button which you switch on and then your card becomes a BNPL product. Instead of paying upfront everything, you pay a third and then in two weeks time we charge you a third and then another third.”
Max Levchin, the founder and CEO of Affirm, speaks on a podcast about the state of BNPL.
PetSmart partners with Afterpay to power online and in-store BNPL.
A profile of Pietra, a service provider enabling creators to easily launch their own product lines.
Chipotle launches its inaugural Creator Class, a group of 15 creators that will meet with Chipotle three times per year to share concepts, ideas and strategies. “Participants are compensated for their time and can also earn 50 free entrees, a catered Chipotle party, exclusive Chipotle merchandise, a visit to the chain’s test kitchen in Irvine, a promo code for the influencer’s followers and priority consideration for future paid sponsorship campaigns.”
Credit Card Loyalty Programs. Credit card providers are turning to ecommerce companies for their reward programs as they partnerships can deliver up to 4% incremental revenue to the card companies. An ecommerce company’s marketing budget is a credit card company’s revenue.
Customer Support. Salesforce is adding AI-powered workflows to its Service Cloud platform which will enable customer service teams to predict, route and even automate resolution for support tickets from customers.
A look into the current funding environment for startup brands. Casper’s performance as a public company is lowering investor appetite.
An analysis of Warby Parker and Allbirds’ IPO filings. “The take-away is that despite generating buzz and raising a lot of capital, these DVNB challengers are struggling to economically challenge the traditional wholesale and retail model.”
Mckinsey breaks down the 5 traps that founders need to avoid when building DTC ecommerce businesses.
H&M saw Q2 2021 revenue grow 9% YoY and -11% versus Q2 2019 to $6.5B.
Inditex, the parent company of Zara, saw H1 2021 revenue grow 53% YoY and 7% versus H1 2019 to $13.9B. Expects online revenue to be more than 25% of total sales in FY 2021.
Restoration Hardware saw Q2 2021 revenue grow 39% YoY and 40% versus Q2 2019 to $989M. "An important point to consider when analyzing the strong demand in the housing market is the migration of consumers to larger suburban and second homes. This trend is resulting in substantial square footage growth that is driving increased furniture and furnishings demand" - Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman
Kroger saw Q2 2021 revenue grow 4% YoY to $31.7B. Digital sales were down 13% YoY but up 114% compared to Q2 2019. The company believes “food at home” is a sticky trend.
Shopify launches Markets, which gives all customers the capability to set specific logic for each country they want to sell in (pricing, language, domains, duties, payments, etc.).
The aggregate number of unique website visitors to Shopify stores has eclipsed the number of visitors to Amazon globally. What does Shopify do next with this traffic?
Adobe adds native PayPal payment capabilities to its Adobe Commerce platform, which was formerly called Magento. Previously, Adobe merchants had to find their own payment systems.
Bold Commerce, a Shopify app developer with many leading apps, shares survey results from its customer base on tech satisfaction. “While 90% of retailers want to continuously innovate and rapidly test new customer experiences, 49% of retailers are held back by existing technologies that are hard to change, while 43% of retailers say they lack the resources to do so.”
Form Factor Innovation. Colgate is launching hand soap tablets to cut the cost and environment impact of shipping liquids. Expect many product categories to evolve drastically in shape and size to better suit a sustainability and ecommerce-driven world.
Gaming Commerce. A profile of Roblox and how brands are trying to get involved. “Neil Rimer, the partner at Index Ventures who led the company's investment in Roblox, says ‘it's only natural that fashion houses, lifestyle brands and all kinds of other businesses will see Roblox as a new way to connect with people and be part of their experiences given the number of people who have made Roblox a central part of their digital life.’"
A comparison of Amazon, Walmart, and Target in the online grocery delivery race. Walmart is leading the race.
Boxed, an online grocery service, licenses its ecommerce platform to Aeon, a grocery store operator in Malaysia. Margins are slim in online grocery so players are turning to advertising and software licensing to find profit dollars.
Health. Smart toilets that analyze that can analyze samples may be on their way. The next platform for connected health?
Home Goods. A look into the strategy of Cuisinart, the popular kitchen appliance maker. “Since the early days, Cuisinart has tried to compile as much first-party data as it can about its customers. Today, Rodgers is trying to systematize that even more. One of the big things she’s paying attention to is lifestyle changes. Before, items like Cuisinart were often gifted during big life events like weddings.”
Influencer Marketing. A look into Revolve’s influencer strategy during NY Fashion Week.
International Ecommerce. Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, wants to become the Amazon of Russia.
Walmart is partnering with Argo AI, which is owned by Ford, to launch an autonomous delivery service in Austin, Miami, and Washington DC.
DHL is investing $300M in its ecommerce logistics capabilities including growing its distribution center footprint by 70% and adding automation to all of their distribution centers.
Fedex is partnering with Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Will allow merchants on Commerce Cloud to offer Shoprunner benefits to their end customers. Shoprunner is Fedex’s 2-day delivery program that also streamline returns by not requiring labels.
Gap is investing $100M in its supply chain infrastructure including expanding two of its fulfillment centers. “Gap has also been deploying AI solutions and robotic technologies in its fulfillment centers - both creating more processing power and more automation. In March the company, which already leverages Kindred Sort robots to pick online orders in its US distribution centers, contracted with systems integrator Advanced Handling Systems to design and integrate an Exotec Skypod System to optimize its returns picking process.”
Membership-Based Commerce. Walmart+, Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime, hits 32M members. Costs $99/year and gives customers perks including free grocery deliveries for orders of at least $35, prescription discounts, and no order minimum to get free shipping for online purchases.
NFTs. The NFT space resembles streetwear in many ways. The two worlds are likely to keep colliding. “Both thrive on hyped assets, driven by scarcity, that attract high prices on the secondary market and have become status symbols online.”
Salesforce’s survey of 2.5K SMBs shows that small businesses feel the need to now have an ecommerce experience. “72% have an e-comm operation, and 35% of them implemented it just within the past year.”
Eight Sleep partners with Barry’s Bootcamp. Will offer Barry’s customers a special price for Eight Sleep mattresses.
Athleta expands their wholesale relationship with REI. Will increase their presence from 5 to 135 stores.
Viome partners with Nordstrom to sell their Health Intelligence Test in stores and on Nordstrom.com.
Payments. Amazon is passing Visa credit card fees through to customers in Singapore and Australia and is encouraging customers to add non-Visa cards. Are we headed towards a world without credit cards? “Our goal is for no customer to pay this surcharge, and we're encouraging them to add a non-Visa credit card to their account in order to avoid doing so…With the rapidly changing payments landscape around the world, we anticipate a future that is less card-centric in the coming years, and we will continue innovating on behalf of customers to add and promote faster, cheaper, and more inclusive payment options to our stores across the globe” - Amazon Spokesperson
Virtual, delivery-only brands are all the rage within restaurant chains. A look into all the chains that are adopting the strategy. “Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands debuted Tender Shack a year ago. By February, it had launched nationwide with more than 750 restaurants making its food.”
Lula, a technology company that transforms convenience stores into last-mile micro-fulfillment centers, is partnering with Uber Eats. Lulu will help C-stores quickly transform their store into a virtual listing for Uber Eats customers to enjoy.
Retention Marketing. Sendlane, an email and SMS marketing automation platform, joins the Shopify app store.
Amazon and Deliveroo announce that Deliveroo orders over $35 will be free for Amazon Prime subscribers in the UK. Amazon is a significant investor in Deliveroo.
Social Media. TikTok overtakes Youtube in average watch time. In June 2021, TikTok users watched over 24 hours of content per month, compared with 22 hours and 40 minutes for Youtube.
Trust and Safety. Wish.com is the least trusted major ecommerce site.
TV Marketing. Google is in talks with free, ad-supported streaming television providers about the possibility of adding their channels to its Chromecast smart TV platform.
User-Generated Content. Adweek explores the value of UGC for brands. As TikTok expands the reach of UGC content, how should brands react? My personal view is that UGC is digital gold for a brand and should be encouraged. “A report from UGC company Stackla found that 80% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are impacted by content made by average people, while only 10% stated that influencer content resonates with them as authentic.”
Funding and Exits
Apparel. Cotopaxi raises an undisclosed amount of funding from Bain Capital Double Impact. “Cotopaxi was founded in 2014 with a mission to create sustainably designed outdoor products and experiences that inspire adventure while also leading people to do good by helping fund poverty relief efforts.”
Proven, a personalized skincare service, filed for a Regulation A crowdraise. The company has just 21 employees and generated $6.4M in gross profit in 2020.
Merit raises $20M from L Catterton for minimalist color cosmetics products.
Shani Darden raises from VMG Partners for its skincare brand started by a notable aesthetician.
Contract Manufacturing. Knowlton Development files to go public and expects to trade at a $3.1B valuation. Is a contract manufactuer that works with brands on ideation, formulation, design, packaging, and manufacturing of beauty and personal care products. Has co-developed 9K products in the last 3 years and generated $2.3B revenue in the last 12 months.
Fitness. EGYM raises $41M from Mayfair Equity Partners for its connected fitness equipment that has 13M registered users worldwide and a presence in 13K+ facilities.
Food and Beverage.
Misfits Market raises $225M from Softbank at a $2B valuation. Provide a grocery delivery service for vegetable and other items at 40% below retail prices, largely by selling previously thrown away “ugly product”. Is now available in 44 states.
Formo raises $50M from EQT for its plant-based cheese products. “Formo domesticates microorganisms instead of cows, using precision fermentation to create nature-identical dairy products.”
Cove Kombucha raises $4.5M from Canaccord Genuity for its Canada-founded kombucha brand.
Immi raises $3.8M from Siddhi Capital for its plant-based, low carb and low sodium, high fiber ramen brand. “Immi’s products were launched in January and saw inventory sell out in the 1st month without any marketing. They have since sold over 10K orders across the US and are even looking to go international.”
Full Sail Partners acquires Odwalla from Coca-Cola, which had discontinued the beverage brand last year.
Food Packaging. Private equity firm Carlyle is considering selling Novolex for $6B. Novolex is a packaging manufacturer specializing in food packaging, which is seeing growing demand due to increased delivery and takeout orders. Packages are the new picks and shovels.
Furniture. Outer raises $50M from Capital Today for its outdoor furniture brand.
Golf Equipment. Vista Outdoor acquires Foresight Sports, the company behind various connected golf products like virtual simulators and smart caddy carts, for $474M.
Item Tracker. Tile raises $40M in debt from Capital IP for its Bluetooth-powered lost item finder beacons as it tries to compete with Apple’s AirTags. “Has sold more than 40M devices and has over 425K paying customers. During the first half of 2021, Tile says revenues increased by over 50%.”
Men’s Health. Numan raises $14M from Novator for its ecommerce-focused men’s health brand offering erectile dysfunction pills and other pharmaceuticals.
Outdoor Equipment. Dometic, a Swedish manufacturer of fridges and coolers for RVs, acquires Igloo, the iconic cooler brand, for $677M.
Sleep. Cerberus, a private equity firm, acquires Helix Sleep, an ecommerce-focused mattress brand, and Brooklyn Bedding, an omni-channel mattress brand. Will merge the two into one company.
Supplements. Thorne HealthTech, a health tests and personalized supplements (offered on subscription) brand, files to go public. Generated $138M revenue in 2020 and has 195K active subscription customers.
Toilet Paper. Who Gives A Crap raises $42M from Verlinvest for its previously bootstrapped bamboo-based toilet paper brand. Uniquely, the company has pledged to donate half of its profits each year and has stuck to that pledge to date.
Grailed raises $60M from GOAT and Groupe Artémis for its fashion marketplace focused on streetwear. We at Index Ventures are also investors. “The platform has almost 2xed in size since the Series A funding round, bringing its global user base to more than 7M people. Also, there are more than 3M listings from upward of 10K luxury labels and streetwear designers.”
California Cowboy raises $2M from Venn Growth Partners for its functional, casual apparel brand.
Sourceful raises $12M from us at Index Ventures for their B2B marketplace connecting medium- to large-scale ecommerce merchants with custom packaging providers that are vetted for quality, sustainability, and cost attractiveness.
GrubMarket raises $120M from Liberty Street Funds, Walleye Capital, Japan Post Capital, and others at a >$1B valuation. Operates a wholesale food distribution marketplace in 13 states with 40 warehouses. “Company is currently profitable in a big way. It’s now at a $1B annualized run-rate, having grown revenues 300% over last year.” Also licenses its in-house software, WholesaleWare, which is seeing $4B in wholesale and retail activity across the US and Canada.
Sendoso raises $100M from Softbank for its B2B gifting marketplace. Allows users across sales, recruiting, etc. to seamlessly send gifts to recipients with 30K+ products available to choose from.
Classifieds. Carousell raises $100M from STIC Investments at a $1.1B valuation. Is an online classifieds business where users list items for buyers to purchase and spans multiple categories. Similar to Craiglist or OfferUp in the US.
Home Goods. Francisco Partners acquires a majority stake in RugsUSA, a leading e-commerce provider of area rugs and home décor products. Has sold 8M rugs to 2M households.
Live Shopping. Whatnot raises $150M from Google Capital for its live shopping platform that enables collectors to buy and sell products like baseball cards, Funko Pops, and soon NFTs. “The company’s GMV is up 30x since its Series A back in the beginning of the year. Whatnot takes an 8% cut on each sale.”
UPS acquires Roadie, a same-day delivery logistics marketplace with 200K drivers in its network.
Stord raises $90M from Kleiner Perkins at a $1.1B valuation. Stord combines physical logistics services such as freight, warehousing and fulfillment. “The company says it has increased its first-party warehouses, coupled with its network of over 400 warehouse partners and 15K carriers. Stord also achieved more than $100M in revenue in the first two quarters of 2021.”
Plants. Berkshire Partners acquires Fast Growing trees, an online retailer of trees and plants. Offers 1.2K varieties of trees, plants, and shrubs that are available for nationwide home delivery within 3 days.
Resale. Tradesy raises $67M from John Doerr for its luxury fashion resale marketplace. “Our new listings grew 50% YoY in 2020, versus 2019. Then in the first half of 2021, our new listings grew by another 116%.”
Glovo acquires Lola Market and Mercadao, two regional Instacart-like grocery delivery services. Will expand Glovo’s quick commerce division which is “on track to reach an annual Gross Transaction Value (GTV) of more than $353M this year.”
Chaldal raises $10M from Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Wise), Sten Tamkivi (Chief Product Officer at Topia and Xploration Capital for its Bangladesh-based same-day grocery delivery service that is similar to GoPuff in the US. Has 27 warehouses in 4 cities. “Claims that it has generated $40M in revenue and performed 2.5M orders over the past 12 months, growing about 120% YoY. It currently sells about 8.5K products and wants to expand that to 30K by December.”
Weezy, a UK-based same-day delivery player, is for sale despite having raised $20M recently.
Vacation Homes. Pacaso, an online marketplace to buy and co-own a second home, raises $125M from Softbank at a $1.5B valuation. “Already has an annualized revenue run rate of $330M.”
Seedtag raises $40M from X for its ad optimization software and creative services that are offered to ecommerce merchants. “2020 was a year of significant growth for Seedtag, with 25% growth and $50M in revenues.”
Pyxis One raises $17M from Celesta Capital and Premji Invest for its AI-based marketing optimization platform. “Comprises dozens of AI models deployed across different aspects such as targeting, optimization, creative recommendation, and consumer research.”
B2B Commerce. Capiter raises $33M from Quona Capital and MSA Capital for its marketplace that allows 50K+ small businesses like mom-and-pop stores, hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc. to order 6K+ products from FMCGs and wholesalers while the Capiter delivers them and offers working capital. “Is targeting an annualized revenue of $1B by next year.”
Design Tools. Canva raises $200M from T Rowe Price at a $40B valuation. Offers an easy to use visual design platform that is used to design marketing material, social media content, and even custom products. “Has more than 60M MAU across 190 countries. Canva expects to exceed $1B in annualized revenue by the end of 2021. More than 500K teams are paying for the product in some capacity.”
Ecommerce Platform. Millions raises $10M from Volition Capital for its ecommerce platform tailored to the needs of athletes. Allows athletes to selling merchandise and on-demand customized videos. Has 300 profiles live today.
Commercetools raises $140M from Accel at a $1.9B valuation. Is a leading provider of ecommerce APIs that allow merchants to build customized ecommerce experiences. “Commercetools has built its business around catering to larger retailers and the many specific, large-scale needs and investment budgets that they may have for building their digital commerce solutions. It provides some 300 APIs today around some 9 ‘buckets’ of services, and a wide network of integration partners and powers some $10B of sales annually for customers like Audi, AT&T, Danone, Tiffany & Co".”
Zonos raises $69M from Silversmith Capital Partners for its set of ecommerce APIs that enable cross-border commerce that are used by 1.5K customers. “The company’s APIs, apps and plugins simplify cross-border sales by providing an accurate final price a consumer pays for an item on an international purchase.”
Influencer Marketing. CreatorIQ raises $40M from Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, TVC Capital, and others for its software platform that streamlines how marketers find and manage influencer marketing campaigns. “Tracks the presence, posts and performance of around 23M influencers on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.”
Locus Robotics raises $50M from Tiger Global for its robotics-as-a-service platform. Specializes in fulfillment robots used in warehouses to automate packing. “At a time of increasing volumes and ongoing labor shortages, this new round of funding underscores how critical flexible, scalable, intelligent robotics automation has become to the warehouse and the supply chain.”
Ambi Robotics raises $26M from Tiger Global for its picking robotic system that is being used by partners like Pitney Bowes in their warehouses.
Photo Verification. Truepic raises $26M from M12 for its photo verification software that is being used by P2P marketplaces. “Truepic’s camera technology is software-based, and runs on mobile devices. Photos and videos captured through its camera are cryptographically assured to be unedited, original images with ‘trusted’ metadata such as time, date and location.”
Toast sets its IPO terms. Expected to have an initial public market cap of $15.7B.
SpotOn raises $300M at a $3.15B valuation from Andreessen Horowitz. Provides an omni-channel point of sale to SMBs, especially in the restaurant category where it competes with Toast. Will use the capital to acquire Appetize, an ecommerce platform for restaurants that is particularly used in 65% of major sports venues for food ordering, for $415M.
Retention Marketing. Intuit confirms the acquisition of Mailchimp for $12B.
Search and Discovery. Constructor raises $55M from Silversmith Capital Partners for its AI-powered search and recommendations product being used by Sephora, Bonobos, and others. “Constructor powers “billions” of queries every month, with revenues growing 233% in the last year.”
Shipping. Sendcloud raises $177M from Softbank for its cloud-based platform to easily organize and carry out shipping services by choosing from a wide range of carriers. Is being used by 23K customers and resembles Shippo, a US-based competitor.
Video Creation. Curastory raises $2M from Lightspeed, Techstars, and others for its video creation and brand partnership platform targeted at athletes. Also announces a partnership with the NBA.
BNPL. DivideBuy raises $412M of debt capital for its UK-based BNPL service used by over 500 retailers. Is on track to hit $240M GMV in 2021.
Business Lending. SellersFunding raises $167M of debt and equity from Northzone for its lending platform for ecommerce businesses that offers working capital loans, cash advances, etc.
Checkout. Sprinque raises $2M from Volta Ventures for its B2B checkout product which enables payment on terms, via split payments, and payment on milestones across multiple payment methods while enabling merchants to receive instant payments.
Goldman Sachs acquires Greensky for $2.2B and plans to integrate it into Marcus, Goldman’s consumer banking service. “GreenSky operates a platform that facilitates loans for big-ticket items like home improvement projects or elective dental or medical procedures. It enables brands like Home Depot, as well as medical and dental practices, to offer installment loans to customers at the point of sale, thereby increasing sales and conversions for its clients.”
Self Financial raises $50M from Altos Ventures for its secured installment loans product which, after repaying, allows users to graduate to Self’s credit card. “Self’s active customer base has more than doubled in the past 12 months to about 1M today.”
Neo Financial, a Canada-based neobank, raises $64M from Valar Ventures. “The startup introduced its no-fee rewards Mastercard last year, and has since added more than 4K retail partners, including Amazon, Winners and Esso. In Feb 2021, Neo partnered with Canada’s oldest retailer Hudson’s Bay to provide the company’s 2M cardholders with a branded credit card.”
TomoCredit raises $10M from Kapor Capital and KB Investment for its credit card focused on building credit history for first-time borrowers. Offers a credit card aimed at helping first-time borrowers build credit history, based on their cash flow, rather than on their FICO or credit report ratings. The card has no fees, no APR and no credit pull. “TomoCredit has already pre-approved more than 300K customers and expects to issue a total of 500K cards by year’s end.”
Sequin raises $5M from Y Combinator, Matrix Partners, and others for its women-focused debit card that builds credit with no credit history required.
Xendit raises $150M from Tiger Global at a $1B valuation for its Indonesia-focused payments service which is similar to Stripe. “Xendit has experienced more than 200% Yoy increase in total payments volume, and now has an annual payment volume of $9B.”
Pine Labs raises $100M from Invesco for its offline and online payments platform focused on serving Asia-based merchants.
Product of the Week
My friend Sarah is the founder of Curie, a clean women’s personal care brand. Deodorant is Curie’s hero product and is now being offered in Soulcycle nationwide. In addition, Curie’s hand sanitizer is amazing and something I take everywhere I go - buy it here.