Two decades since the development of ecommerce, why are websites still so static?
Written by Laura Lenz, Partner, OMERS Ventures
It’s no secret that the last 11 months have had an incredible accelerating effect on ecommerce. Prior to the pandemic, digital shopping was already accelerating, driven by the younger generation’s desire for convenience, and trust in online payments. However, US retail ecommerce reached a huge US$210B in Q3 2020, up 44.5% year on year. In fact, in recent research, Bank of America predicts that the pandemic will “result in a four year pull forward” in online penetration for the global apparel industry alone. While growth may normalize once pandemic-related restrictions lift, 61% of analysts believe that COVID-19’s social distancing norms will have lasting implications.¹
Today we announced our investment in Winnipeg-based Bold Commerce’s US$27M (~CAD$35M) Series B round. Our history of investing in category-leading B2B SaaS businesses is a substantial one, with past investments including Shopify, Wave, Jobber and TouchBistro to name a few. So naturally, the incredible early traction being experienced by Bold Commerce caught our eye. Bold is targeting a massive, accelerated growth market opportunity and we couldn’t be more excited about joining them for the ride.
You really don’t need to look much further than your own online shopping experiences to understand the problem Bold is solving. As companies respond to dramatic increases in digital commerce (many of them scrambling to do so as a result of current restrictions), it is natural for them to aim to replicate the frictionless Amazon shopping experience people have come to expect. For the most part, Amazon offers a simple buying experience, from intuitive product discovery, to well-placed advertising, to fast checkout, payment and fulfilment, and it soon becomes apparent to any small business that replicating such an experience requires quite complex technology and resources.
Bold aims to address this market by focusing on what it calls ‘transaction experience solutions’ including: checkout, subscription, and pricing management. Bold’s vision is to help brands let their customers transact wherever they happen to be — a website, mobile app, messenger, smart speaker, or on social media, using its modular, API-based technology.
Today people are buying everything from wine openers and vitamins to fire pits and inflatable pools online and if purchases are from outside Amazon, the experience has been anything but convenient or consistent. The consumer isn’t aware of the underlying commerce infrastructure, but they have high expectations and a willingness to go elsewhere if they are frustrated or disappointed. And that’s why brands and retailers need customized technology that can be quickly deployed to improve conversion rates. From the ability to use digital wallets or pay with loyalty points, to seeing conflicts between online and offline promotional pricing, customers’ expectations are high.
One significant part of the solution is the transition to ‘headless commerce’ — a decoupling of customer-facing part of the e-commerce experience from the back-end (inventory, CRM, order management) — to allow companies to better customize their shopping experiences. It is a trend we have seen work successfully in the content management space (with companies like Contentful, another OV portfolio company) and there’s no reason the concept won’t experience the same enthusiasm in the ecommerce space.
Whether it is the ability for brands to accept ID to verify a purchase or apply a discount, the option to turn a one time purchase into a subscription, or the functionality to facilitate an online purchase to be picked up instore — the landscape for ecommerce today has changed beyond recognition from where it was only a year ago. And we are confident Bold is in the ideal position to help brands deliver what their customers want in an agile and responsive manner.
Co-founder Yvan Boisjoli, CEO, has built an impressive team, recently augmented with the addition of a COO, Odus (Boogie) Wittenburg. With its combination of ambition, determination and industry know-how, for this team the sky’s the limit.
If you are a brand and looking to improve your ecommerce solution, we’d love to hear from you!
¹Bank of America. COVID-19 Investment Implications Series: From brick to click & everything between. October 1, 2020.