On-demand warehousing and fulfillment provider Flexe will continue expanding its network of logistics facilities across North America thanks to a $70 million funding round announced today, saying the move will let it keep up with e-commerce sale growth accelerated by the pandemic.
The “series C” capital infusion was led by T. Rowe Price, and included follow-on investments from previous backers Activate Capital, Tiger Global, Madrona Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, and Prologis Ventures. The announcement brings Flexe to a total of $134 million raised to date, following its $43 million “series B” round in 2019.
Founded in 2013, Seattle-based Flexe will use its new funding to invest in its team and technology, building solutions that help enterprise-class retailers and brands better execute flexible omnichannel operations, the firm said.
The timing of the move is critical since the Covid-19 crisis has leveraged a long-term shift from in-store to online shopping, boosting e-commerce sales to leap the same amount in 10 weeks as the past 10 years. At the same time, consumers are demanding fast, free shipping, forcing businesses to seek ways to scale up their fulfillment networks without purchasing fixed warehousing infrastructure, Flexe says.
“There’s been a huge acceleration,” Flexe co-founder and CEO Karl Siebrecht said in a call. “When e-commerce was 15% of total retail sales, roughly at the end of last year, that didn’t represent much business for many retailers. But at the low to mid-20%, it is suddenly a major part of their operations.”
Flexe says it meets that need by providing fulfillment capabilities and omnichannel logistics solutions to its customers, who are large enterprise companies. A critical piece of Flexe’s platform is its warehouse management system (WMS) software, which enables its customers to have a broadly distributed warehouse network but still maintain centralized visibility and control over operations, Siebrecht said.
Backed with new cash, Flexe plans to invest in that WMS product and extend its capability to handle more complex order profiles, which increasingly include more stock-keeping units (SKUs) per cart and require omnichannel fulfillment from a variety of channels. Other new initiatives will include expanding its ability to provide dashboard and analytics tools and to build out its connections to additional transportation providers, he said.
Of course, Flexe is not alone in tracking those trends, and the flexible warehousing sector has grown in recent years to include additional entrants such as Warehouse Exchange, Warehowz, Flowspace, and UPS Inc.’s Ware2Go. But Siebrecht says the $150 billion U.S. warehousing sector has room for many players, and suggests that Flexe has carved out its own territory through its focus on enterprise clients, its proprietary WMS, and and its provision of services such as shipping and distribution as well as basic storage space.
On announcing our Series C: “We work together to solve the tough logistics challenges our customers face. No matter what.” Our Co-Founder & CEO, Karl Siebrecht, on what this milestone means for the business and our customers >> https://t.co/kMhgcSXvKQ— FLEXE, Inc. (@flexe) December 1, 2020