Helping small businesses compete with the Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) e-commerce juggernaut has become more than a cottage industry, as dozens of technology companies create platforms aimed at helping retailers and direct-to-consumer sellers put in place reliable, easy-to-use inventory, transportation and delivery management systems.
One member of that club is Stord, an Atlanta-based startup that closed a $31 million Series B funding round this week to continue building out its cloud-based supply chain software.
Stord’s platform, founder and CEO Sean Henry told FreightWaves, allows small to enterprise businesses to focus on what they do best —”building products that delight their end customers” — by providing the end-to-end services they need to build “a sophisticated and scalable supply chain.”
Parsing what that means, exactly, Henry said Stord’s solutions can be broken down into two parts. The first, logistics, encompasses warehousing, fulfillment, transportation and delivery/courier services.
“We look at those four categories and try to build really robust networks in each one of those,” he explained.
A control tower approach
Launched in 2017, Stord doesn’t own trucks or distribution facilities. Instead it plugs into existing providers, including 500 warehouses, 20,000 carriers (the company acquired a freight brokerage earlier this year) and 30 fulfillment centers.
Customers can stitch together these logistics services as needed, Henry said, using Stord’s “control tower” platform to create a unified management system.
The second part is the software itself, which can operate autonomously. That is, customers can bypass the logistics solutions altogether and instead use Stord to integrate their own warehouse and delivery partners.
Whether retailers integrate their ERP or shopping cart or use Stord’s software as a stand-alone, “from that single login you can launch new warehouses, request freight shipments, set up fulfillment centers and more,” he noted. “Our mission is to provide Amazon-level logistics for all.”
Amazon for all
As e-commerce demand soars, digital supply chain and freight companies are seeing a corresponding uptick in interest, from investors as well as customers.
In the past 10 days alone, Flexe, an on-demand warehousing solution, raised $70 million in a Series C round, while freight technology companies Loadsmart and Flock Freight secured $90 million and $113.5 million, respectively.
Although Stord faces competition within the logistics segments it targets — e.g., on-demand warehousing — its core differentiator, according to Henry, is the one-stop-shop approach.
Building an Amazon “for everyone else is very difficult,” admits the 24-year old Henry, who traces the origins of the startup to an eBay electronics components business he ran as a student at Georgia Tech. “It’s a lot to bite off.”
But so far the model appears to be proving itself. With the help of veterans such as vice president of supply chain Steve Swan, a former Amazon executive, Stord has grown logistics revenue by nearly 500% this year. The real driver is Stord’s software segment, showing over 900% growth.
The model, Henry noted, appeals to the average small business that currently is “piecing together dozens of warehouses, transportation brokers and parcel providers”, and then “trying to connect that network to a complex technology stack that they are buying from different vendors.”
Stord will use the latest cash infusion to drive more density and improve service in its supply chain networks, and fill nearly 50 open positions within the company, where headcount has increased from 40 to over 125 employees.
The Series B round was led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, with participation from existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Susa Ventures and Dynamo, as well as strategic investors.
The new funding brings Stord’s total investment to $46 million.