Parcel storage systems provider Fetch Package Inc. said Wednesday it had raised $3 million in venture funding and planned to use the money to expand its solutions for handling e-commerce package delivery to apartment buildings, a competitive sector that also features solutions from established players such as Bell and Howell LLC and Amazon.com Inc.
The Dallas-based startup accepts packages at local warehouses, then provides scheduled, door-to-door delivery to residents. Fetch accepts packages ranging in size from food to furniture and from carriers including UPS Inc., FedEx Co., U.S. Postal Service, DHL, and Amazon.com Inc., the company said.
The seed-round investment was led by the venture capital and private equity firm Silverton Partners, with additional participation from Capital Factory, Venn Ventures, and various multifamily real estate owners and managers. Fetch plans to use its new cash to expand its service to Houston and Austin, Texas, develop its software platform, and enable additional delivery services, such as package returns and dry cleaning delivery, the firm said.
As e-commerce fulfillment continues to swell, companies are pouring increasing resources into ways to manage the piles of parcels that can collect on consumer's doorsteps and in building lobbies.
On Monday, the Portsmouth, N.H.-based startup Position Imaging said it had partnered with parcel-fulfillment firmBell and Howell to carve out space in lobbies for "Smart Package Rooms" that store and track parcels with automated bar code readers. Consumers then use smartphone apps to get security codes allowing them to access the storage rooms and retrieve their goods.
In a similar approach, Amazon rolled out a program in June to offer safe parcel storage for apartment residents by installing banks of lockers in building lobbies, much as the company already does through its Whole Foods Markets properties and in storefronts near population centers.
Fetch says its approach is different because it can save money for property managers by taking over the last-mile delivery stage entirely, saving them from devoting space or labor to parcel storage. "The e-commerce explosion has flooded apartment buildings with packages, and the [property management] industry is looking for a way to get out of the package business," Fetch Founder and CEO Michael Patton said in a statement.
The sector is attracting new services and rising investment because it is under the twin pressures of expanding e-commerce volumes in last-mile delivery—the most expensive part of the fulfillment process—and Amazon's expansion into home delivery, said Bob Hood, a principal in the consulting firm Capgemini's supply chain technologies practice. "With Amazon moving into the parcel shipping business for last mile there is definitely a 400-pound gorilla from a competitive standpoint," he said.
In response, some major players are developing solutions, he said. One example is Bringg Delivery Technologies Ltd., a last-mile logistics and on-demand delivery platform that is "backed by Salesforce and Coca-Cola, and will likely be a strong player in the last mile delivery solution space," Hood said.
For a look at the future of innovative package pickup options, some are looking to Europe and the U.K., which are ahead of the U.S. in developing systems like partnerships between shippers and retailers that support pick-up services in brick and mortar stores, Hood said.