The growth of online grocery shopping is fueling another trend across the U.S. – ethnic grocers. It is estimated that the ethnic supermarket market in the nation is now $49 billion, with the majority of that still local mom-and-pop community markets. Meanwhile, online grocery is estimated to reach $135.2 billion this year and grow to $187.7 billion by 2024.
Freemont, California-based Weee! is hoping to tap into this burgeoning market and now has $425 million in additional funding to help scale. The company on Monday announced the closing of its series E financing round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Greyhound Capital also participated along with existing inventory.
“We saw tremendous growth in 2021, even through the easing of COVID-19-related pressures, as our customers continue to discover affordable access to a wide array of exciting products and food online. We look forward to building on that momentum as we add depth to our investor base with Softbank’s global e-commerce expertise and welcome them to the board,” said Larry Liu, founder and CEO of Weee!
Weee! has raised $863.8 million across eight funding rounds, according to Crunchbase data. Its previous funding round was $316 million in March 2021, led by DST Global. The company said it would use the latest funding to expand its platform across additional ethnicities, scale its delivery services and enter new geographies. Additional investment will be made into warehouse automation and AI innovations.
“The market for ethnic groceries and food is massively underserved in the U.S., and we believe that Weee! is in a prime position to meet the demands of customers,” said Lydia Jett, managing partner at Softbank Investment Advisors, who will join Weee!’s board of directors as part of the Series E. “Weee!’s strong execution capabilities and reach across multiple ethnic groups, coupled with a unique customer experience model leveraging AI, has enabled it to scale effectively in a rapidly evolving grocery market. We are delighted to partner with Larry Liu and the team to support their next phase of expansion.”
Weee! offers Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, Latin, Japanese and Vietnamese food, self-care and household items. There are no subscription fees and only a minimum order is required. The company also partners with over 1,000 ethnic restaurants for additional options.
Consultancy Mercatus forecast that grocery e-commerce will account for 11.1% of the $1.124 trillion grocery market this year, rising to 20.5% by 2026. Misfits Market has steadily grown its online grocery business, now offering its service in all of the continental U.S. Misfits ships more than 11 million orders per week. It has raised $525 million and is valued at over $2 billion.
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