Top VCs say they want to fund startups that solve retailers' biggest problem — e-commerce logistics
- 2020 was a huge year for e-commerce, and VCs want to fund startups that can improve infrastructure and make 2021 an even bigger year for the sector.
- VCs speaking with Insider said that they're eager to invest in startups that can provide analytics, logisitcs, and operational support to e-commerce compaies.
- "We believe that the best time to start a company is during times of uncertainty because both the cracks and innovation become more evident in a given sector," Hans Tung, managing partner of GGV Capital, said to Insider.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all kinds of retailers to double down on e-commerce like never before.
Even as restrictions on in-person retail have lifted across the US, many consumers are choosing to do more of their shopping online as they keep health and safety top of mind.
eMarketer analysts have estimated that US online sales would reach $794.5 billion in 2020, a year-over-year increase of 32.4%.
But, businesses were met with some challenges while dealing with the huge influx of online shopping.
Some online retailers struggled to keep inventory in stock, particularly early on in the pandemic. Others began exploring new ways of getting goods into consumers' hands as delivery networks filled up with packages.
For venture capitalists looking to fund the next big thing in e-commerce, these bumps in the road spell opportunity.
Insider recently reached out to the top firms investing in e-commerce to get their take on where the sector is headed. Many said they were interested in funding startups that can solve problems for e-commerce businesses looking to scale.
Read more: The 25 VC firms most active in funding e-commerce startups told us what they're looking for in an investment — and shared the big bets they're making for the future
"We believe that the best time to start a company is during times of uncertainty because both the cracks and innovation become more evident in a given sector," Hans Tung, managing partner of GGV Capital, said. "If e-commerce is growing, then it's only logical that new demand for infrastructure and analytics will be there."
He said that the firm is interested in startups that provide "backend logistics, analytics, and operational services such as Flieber," which helps online retailers manage their supply chain operations.
He's also keeping an eye on fintech startups, such as Affirm, that are changing how we pay for goods and services, to be trends in 2021.
Gautam Gupta, a partner at M13, said the firm is "looking for critical, not just nice to have, infrastructure that drives growth for independent sellers."
He pointed to M13's investment in Passport as an example, describing the startup as a "software-enabled international shipping carrier for DTC brands."
"As US-based merchants look to expand their customer base overseas, Passport provides a full-service solution including logistics, duties and tax calculation, insurance and customer service," he said. "As customers scale their international sales, Passport scales alongside the business."
Adina Davis, an investor at BoxGroup, added that 2020 saw an "explosion of the Shopify ecosystem," leading to investment opportunities.
"We have been eager to make investments into companies that can serve as the infrastructure that supports e-commerce businesses in their growth," she said. "This can span everything from innovative software solutions, to 3PL and warehousing solutions, to financing solutions, to innovations in the checkout experience, and more."
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