The money spigot keeps on flowing for supply chain technology companies, with the latest beneficiary, FLEXE, an on-demand warehousing and fulfillment company, announcing the close of its $70 million Series C funding.
The round, revealed Tuesday, was led by T. Rowe Price, and includes follow-on investments from Activate Capital, Tiger Global, Madrona Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and Prologis Ventures.
FLEXE will use the new funding to invest in its team and technology, expanding solutions that help retailers and brands implement more flexible fulfillment strategies, according to CEO Karl Siebrecht.
Siebrecht, who spoke to FreightWaves on Black Friday, said orders started surging for many FLEXE clients on Thanksgiving.
“What comes after the order spike is a spike in [warehouse] picking and packing,” he said, “which is where our software is deployed across our network.”
An on-demand solution, FLEXE connects warehouse providers that have excess capacity and services with retailers and brands that need space.
Its technology allows retailers and brands to secure warehousing and fulfillment solutions quickly with no long-term commitments or expensive setup fees.
Amid the surge in e-commerce orders, the majority of warehouses nationwide are leased, Siebrecht observed. Yet “when you look under the roof,” he said, “space is not fully utilized.”
Flexe taps into that underutilized space through its platform, which in turn plugs into customers’ order streams, via shopping carts or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) connection.
“We plug in once,” Siebrecht explained, “and customers have the ability to spin up distribution and fulfillment centers across the country because each of their nodes, all those warehouses, are using FLEXE software to manage orders,” .
Essentially FLEXE offers a distributed network that is centrally managed, so “instead of having to lease an entire building,” Siebrecht said, “you just pay for actual management at each of the sites. The commercial model is no fixed cost.”
Since raising its Series B in May 2019, FLEXE has doubled its headcount, expanded partnerships with major retailers Walmart and Ace Hardware, and grown its warehouse network by 50% to include more than 1,500 locations across North America.
Another recent development included launching an integration with Google Merchant Center that enables advertisers to display delivery promises in Google Shopping ads.
Describing the arcane processes that occur when buyers search for items online, Siebrecht told FreightWaves earlier this year that Google has created an application programming interface (API) that outside platforms like Flexe can plug into, so the system knows exactly where physical inventory is at the moment of the search.