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Swiftly gets $100M boost for brick-and-mortar

Sep 20, 2022
Illustration of a shopping cart surrounded by shapes and zoomed in sections of a dollar bill.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Swiftly, the grocery retail tech platform, raised $100 million to scale its brick-and-mortar offering, co-founder Sean Turner tells Axios.

Why it's the BFD: The nine-figure price tag signals a robust appetite for technology servicing physical stores — and is particularly notable considering how startup investors have grown wary of cash burn.

  • "It was iconoclastic early on, but now, in today's market, [cash burn] is something that investors are really paying a lot closer attention to," Turner says.
  • "We've always tried to be very capital efficient in how we run the business. And we're going to continue to do so with this raise," he adds.

What's happening: The Seattle company raised $100 million in a Series C round led by Hong Kong-based BRV Capital Management, bringing its total funding to $210 million to date.

  • The Wall Street Journal pegged the company's valuation at $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion citing sources familiar, a range Turner confirmed.

The intrigue: "From a capital perspective, this provides a lot of opportunities to be able to do some roll-ups in the space," Turner says, noting Swiftly could look to acquire point solutions and plug-in features.

Meanwhile, fresh capital will allow Swiftly to onboard brick-and-mortar grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores more quickly.

Yes and: Swiftly has captured about 10% of the grocery retail market and hopes to increase that market share with fresh funds, Turner says.

  • Swiftly has also attracted retailers outside of its existing verticals, including in electronics, home improvement and fashion, he says.
  • "That's a pretty active area of exploration," he says. "There's a whole lot of whitespace to go after."

Flashback: This is the company's second financing in the past six months, after raising $100 million in a Wormhole Capital-led Series B in March.

State of play: Founded in 2018, Swiftly took a disciplined approach in its early days to perfect its technology deployment and demonstrate that it could drive profitable growth before expanding its software to other stores, Turner says.

  • "Figuring out those unit economics in the early days, I think, was helpful to set ourselves up for scale."

The bottom line: Turner sees its technology as helping brick-and-mortar stores even the playing field with the likes of Amazon and Walmart.

  • About 68% of Amazon's profit comes from advertising through retail media, according to a BCG study. For Walmart, about 12% of its profit comes through that channel.
  • "That means that they don't have to make money actually selling stuff," Turner says.
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