Investment Case StudyThe Real Deal

Why Valor Invested In the SmartCommerce Platform for Growing Global Brands

By December 18, 2018 No Comments

The pain SmartCommerce solves for consumer product/good companies is existential. CPG goods aren’t high-ticket items like electronics or sports goods, where customers have a research phase before they buy, or only buy every few months or years. Instead, consumer products are purchased at impulse, all the time, everywhere. Big picture – at over $3 trillion, “consumer discretionary” is one of the biggest spending categories across the globe and also one of the hardest to track.

I was lucky enough to meet the SmartCommerce team years ago in Orlando, Florida, where they were building Channel Intelligence. It was there, building an online product discovery engine that was acquired by Google, that they earned the world’s most relevant pedigree in global online product discovery. Their last invention became Google Shopping. When they became enamored with a new idea–reinventing customer convenience from the cart—CEO Jennifer Silverberg reached out to ValorVC. “Lisa is one of the smartest people I know in how to grow a company, and I wanted her with us,” she said.

I already believed in the team, but as Valor got to know the challenge, we became increasingly convinced in the long term potential of the existential problem SmartCommerce’s team is solving. They’re the right team–and this is one of the big problems.

KPMG had a recent CPG report that proclaimed in bold letters, “The traditional business model that linked manufacturers, retailers and consumers is finished.”

Accenture and other analysts point out it’s the frontier of evolution for consumer product companies–a huge plain of potential. The growing topline is composed of a volatile mishmash in the throes of digital disruption. For example, $18 billion shifted away from large CPG companies to smaller players between 2011 and 2015. In 2015, 90 percent of the top 100 CPG brands lost market share with 62 of them experiencing declining sales. It’s no surprise digital disruption is also fueling record acquisitions in CPG as companies turn to acquisition for innovation. In 2016, there were more than 1,300 mergers and acquisitions within the industry–up from just 27 in 2006, per Deloitte.  The CPG market has outpaced the Fortune 500 for growth since 1985. Based on over a decade deeply embedded in this space, the SmartCommerce team has an informed, networked and nuanced understanding of customer behavior driving the millions of these market-making engagements.

“Online demand for products is much more dependent on the convenience of placing an order than the cost of purchase,” Jennifer explains. “Even cash-strapped shoppers are willing to spend a little more to have their groceries delivered or prepped for curbside pick-up than deal with the inconvenience. In the digital world, getting a product into a consumer’s online cart with as few clicks as possible is the equivalent of tossing it onto the checkout conveyor belt in a grocery store.”

Hypergrowth in enterprise sales

SmartCommerce launched beta trials with early enterprise customers, all consumer product good brands and large multi-national grocery companies. As those trials converted into paying customers, the company tripped Valor’s hypergrowth thesis. We invested in December 2017 with a board advisor role.  SmartCommerce’s growing traction with leaders like Kimberly-Clark, Keurig Dr Pepper, J&J, P&G, Nestle, and Schweppes earned them a Series A led by London investor ICU about a year after we invested.

Today, SmartCommerce is empowering multinational retailers and product companies that want to sell more online.  

When a CPG company uses SmartCommerce Click2Cart links, they start driving sales where they were previously driving only interest/intent.

And rather than shuttling shoppers into the retailer-side black box – where retailer brands are increasingly competing with directly with brands on the virtual shelf – SmartCommerce gives the brand real-time control and intelligence. Feedback from CMOs at major brands say this improves brands ROI overall, enhances lift on promotional days like Black Friday or Prime Day, and provides better intelligence into the brand’s customer relationship based on actual behavior. SmartCommerce has developed one of the few ways a CPG leader can see a response from their customer today to their offers today, and it can allow its adopters to win the war of digital disruption. Better yet, the product can be up and running in days for specific brands–very unlike the lengthy, unwieldy integrations brands faced from previous e-commerce tools.

“Single-click carting on our platform is the best way to convert that impulsive ‘I need this now’ demand into a future sale in split-seconds. It doesn’t matter to consumers if it costs a few cents extra, convenience is the new cost leader. SmartCommerce empowers brands to be convenient in any channel,” says Jennifer. Current customers use SmartCommerce to power conversion through online ads, billboards, video, at sports events, and in customer chat interfaces—anywhere you can click a link.