Byrd lands $56M to grow its European e-commerce logistics and fulfillment network as an alternative to Amazon – TechCrunch

Shopify highlighted the role and importance of logistics and fulfillment in e-commerce when it acquired Deliverr for $2.1 billion last week to gain its own direct foothold in providing those services for its e-commerce customers. to the Amazon. Now, a promising compliance startup in Europe has closed a funding round to fuel its own growth. Byrd, which is building an operations network that provides storage, delivery services and software for its e-commerce clients to manage it all, has raised $56 million in a Series C funding round.

Cambridge Capital is leading the investment, with participation from Speedinvest, Mouro Capital, Elevator Ventures and other former shareholders. Byrd last raised less than a year ago, a $19 million round led by Mouro. He’s not disclosing his valuation, but the round was closed amid rumors of Shopify buying a logistics provider (it had also apparently considered Shipbob) and was actually acquired, so it may have given Byrd more attention.

The Berlin-based startup today offers e-commerce customers “virtual” warehousing in seven European countries, not as a warehouse owner, but by taking up collocation space in others’ warehouses, along with a suite of software that helps those customers connect, manage and analyze shipments and deliveries around the world, and the plan is to use the investment to expand that network and the services it provides around it, specifically also to develop the operations to work in new verticals like clothing. Today it covers the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, with its newest warehouses being added in Italy and Spain. Sweden, Denmark and Poland are on the list to launch later this year, with a total of 30 warehouse locations in 10 countries.

Byrd’s holy grail, so to speak, is to provide its retailers with a viable alternative to the kinds of services one might get through Amazon Prime: fast shipping options, but also a backend to manage products after they’re imported and until they arrive. to your final destination with a client; and an easy route for returns when that happens. It has a great opportunity, so to speak, in the fact that today’s merchants are typically already selling through multiple channels, including their own websites, other marketplaces, and more.

“We’ve already fulfilled a ton of Amazon orders,” said Alexander Leichter, the CEO who co-founded Byrd with Sebastian Mach and Petra Dobrocka. “Why wouldn’t they ship through Amazon? Merchants like to be independent and have options, and consolidate trades across different channels. So it is not true now and it will not be true in the future that Amazon is the best solution. There is still a huge opportunity for stand-alone solutions.”

Logistics and fulfillment are two of the deceptively most critical parts of the eCommerce business model. Misleading, because they do not appear as visible to the average consumer who buys a product; critical, because they have become central not only to margins earned on sales, but also a key differentiator when someone is buying something: delivery costs and time can make or break a sale.

Byrd, which was originally founded in Vienna, has been looking at the intricacies of the business model for years, originally with the goal of building its own network of physical warehouses before moving to a software-based approach based on scaling up and down warehouse space. warehouse as needed for customers.

Dobrocka, the chief commercial officer, said that while the Deliverr acquisition certainly speaks to further consolidation in the 3PL (short for third-party logistics) space, it also perhaps underscores that there could be fewer “3s” between them. As e-commerce platforms flex their muscle, retailers remain a significant enough population that there is a place for vendors like Byrd that are flexible and evolve in functionality due to being software-based. And the regional reach should not be underestimated.

“Shopify only launched three or four years ago in Germany, and I’d say their coverage in Europe isn’t that strong,” he said.

The company hasn’t launched yet, but has considered how to bring its model from Amazon’s competitor to the Prime concept itself, if it can achieve greater scale to make it worthwhile. (Something Shopify may also be considering, given its growth and ambitions.)

“There are some thoughts around ‘main,’” Leichter said. “It’s something that makes sense. For consumers, you can buy from more than one merchant and say we have two merchants who are in the same warehouse but order through different websites. It would make sense to combine them with a better customer experience. But it would be premature to do this yet. We need a lot of merchants to get there.”

That scale is something that Amazon itself has not only achieved with businesses in its own market, but far beyond. The company has been offering FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) for years at this point and in April it launched Buy with Prime, a new front on its Prime model that will see Amazon offer it as a paid option to Prime members on shopping sites. the merchants themselves. , and probably elsewhere over time as well. This is something that Amazon had been working on for years, a sign of how complex it is to implement something like this in terms of attracting partners and making the whole process profitable. Notably, even at its launch, it’s starting to work with customers who already work with Amazon (and likely use their storage to begin with, making it easy to get on board).

All of that may seem like daunting competition in one respect, but in another it’s an opportunity because there will be companies left that don’t want to lock themselves into the Amazon ecosystem, and it leaves plenty of room for more flexible and innovative approaches for smaller players. . And notably, Buy with Prime is currently only rolling out in the US.

Matt Smalley, director of Cambridge Capital, will join the company’s board with this round.

“Byrd is one of the fastest growing companies we have seen, in what we believe is the strongest economic unit in the industry. We were won over by their technology-driven approach and proprietary warehouse management software, which enables byrd to run an asset-light fulfillment network,” he said in a statement. “Byrd’s extensive coverage of the European market, excellent customer momentum and great satisfaction with both retailers and warehouse partners immediately attracted us.”

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