Are there still VCs investing in Commerce? #ecommercetech

Inès Cheaib
C4 Ventures
Published in
3 min readMar 22, 2018

At C4 Ventures we decided to have investment themes because we believe that good investors are those who are knowledgeable about their investment thesis.

We tend to be well known for our Hardware investment theme because of our portfolio companies (Nest, Graphcore, Netatmo, Anki…) but also because there aren’t many VCs investing in Hardware… 😄

Then when I mention our second investment theme, I get often the remark: “Are there still VCs investing in Commerce?”

So I decided to take some time to explain in a few slides where what are the areas we like in the future of commerce and why we think this is a hot topic.

>>E-commerce tech investment thesis<<

We usually separate this investment theme in 4 sub themes, and I’ll be focusing on the first one today, e-commerce tech!

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon…🙈

Amazon is one of our favorite topics at the office.

Maybe one reason for that, is that I receive an Amazon package almost every other day… or because one partner says he avoids shopping on Amazon because he wants more competition : “So do you REALLY go to a bookstore to buy a book?”, I asked him…

Amazon’s appeal is its convenience: fast delivery, breadth of offering, competitive price etc… In a Raymond James study published in early 2017, 52% of people said that Amazon was their first choice for product searches online versus 26% for all the search engines combined. Online retailers started appearing in the results only in 2016 representing 16% of respondents first destination.

But even if better product pictures, better content and more ratings reassure us in our shopping experience online, brands represent an unbeatable sign of quality.

There is an immense opportunity for startups to help retailers compete with the giant Amazon

Retailers have the opportunity to be ahead of what we call the second wave of e-commerce which is about making a difference in the customer experience online. While Amazon keeps innovating with proposition like Amazon Prime Now or Amazon Go, startups are developing solutions to make retailers more competitive on that segment.

This is why at C4 Ventures we decided to invest in what we call e-commerce technologies: any cutting edge technology allowing retailers to become more competitive across the customer facing value chain: browsing experience, conversion, payment, logistics, customer service and loyalty.

The sub themes quoted here are not exhaustive but represent the trends we like and follow. Startups examples can be found in the SlideShare here.

We’re looking for strong technologies (or why we also invest in AI, Blockchain etc…😄)

E-commerce is a mature business and we believe it is key to build a proprietary and differentiating technology to build a sustainable and significant business. Whether it is based on Natural Language Processing based chat bots handling customer service or real-time dispatching technologies of couriers for on-demand delivery, we like to understand what makes it unique.

If you think you’re in this case or if you want to discuss this topic more in details, please reach out!

Arriving soon: #retailtech



Inès Cheaib
C4 Ventures

COO at | Ex-VC turned Operator, Engineer by training | 🇫🇷 & 🇱🇧 | London is home | Founder LiT- Lebanese in Tech | Handball player