Veteran Exec Stresses Simplicity In New eCommerce Platform
Shopify and BigCommerce have a new competitor. Fabric, a new headless commerce platform startup for retailers, came out of the gate with a head of steam on Tuesday (Aug. 20) as it announced its new product, executive team and initial funding round. The initial round will include $9.5 million in seed funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from Sierra Ventures and Expa.
The product is a cloud-native platform that enables retailers to deliver digital commerce experiences without having to rely on expensive engineering resources. Instead, it leverages the headless concept, which allows retailers to build and scale their operations with minimal coding or other technology. According to the company, Fabric only takes weeks to onboard, compared to the traditional months that other platforms require, and it doesn’t require replatforming. The modular platform allows even smaller retailers to add the tools they need, including sophisticated capabilities such as order management, content management, a product catalog, pricing, offers and more.
Fabric works as a standalone platform or as a SaaS-based supplement to current technology. The company sees an opportunity as SMB retailers and other brands struggle to grow in the age of Amazon, because their commerce platforms require too much time and money for retailers to deliver great customer experiences. Meanwhile, the large retailers invest in their own proprietary systems, widening their advantage in data, speed, pricing and convenience.
“There’s always a constant desire to try to make the baseline features easy for retailers to use, but not all of them are available through the implementations on your eCommerce platform,” Fabric CEO Faisal Masud told PYMNTS. “Now, if a retailer is sitting with some legacy monolith, imagine that this only affords you two release cycles a month. And if one of those fails, you only have one. So that’s where Fabric sets the stage by augmenting their existing environments versus just saying, ‘go get rid of everything.’ We’re not saying retailers need to get rid of Shopify. We’re saying we can come and be very complementary to your product.”
Masud is one of the attractions for retailers as well as venture capitalists, as he has some serious executive street cred. He joined Fabric from Wing (a Google X Moonshot that later graduated to an Alphabet company), where as chief operating officer, he launched the drone delivery program for retailers in food and pharmacy. Prior to Wing, Masud was chief technology officer at Staples, where he was responsible for building out the third-party vendor platform. He also spent seven years at Amazon, where he built Amazon Warehouse and Amazon’s Reverse Logistics platform and was part of the AmazonBasics founding team. Masud also held leadership roles at Groupon and eBay.
“Now I finally have an opportunity to build those tools and platforms that enable growth for other retailers that are today struggling between the 800-pound gorilla that is Amazon.com while trying to build their own brands,” Masud said. “There needs to be a modular solution designed by folks who have run businesses. In the past, it’s been the people who know how to run the business versus the technologists. This is not that kind of company. It’s a solution that’s easy, fast to implement, and a pure SaaS offering, versus some monolith that can have other constraints. I find this opportunity pretty huge, especially in current COVID times where eCommerce is exploding.”
Masud believes his platform will do a better job than current market entries because he sees so many retailers that look exactly alike rather than differentiating and competing on brand. Customization is the key to that branding experience, and that’s an element the SaaS platform can provide. One of Fabric’s earliest customers, ABC Carpet, says its use of the platform has resulted in better site speed, expanded customer engagement and three-time increases in conversion.
“Shopify is a fantastic out-of-the-box solution for a small merchant, maybe under $5 million in revenue,” he said. “But as soon as you get to the larger size, there’s an enormous amount of burden on the retailer to orchestrate across dozens of apps and several platforms. If I’m a brand, I just want to run my brand. I’m not a technology company. That’s where Fabric comes in – we provide a product that you can utilize in this process, and you’re responsible for running your business. Our core offering is that we offer a suite of APIs that help you orchestrate across other channels. It’s important to identify the growth constraints and to not get stifled by technology.”