Investment dollars continued flowing into the logistics robotics sector this week with the news that micro-fulfillment automation provider Fabric had landed $200 million in venture backing, pushing it over the “unicorn” threshold and providing fuel for continued growth of its robotic on-demand fulfillment technology stack.
The “series C” funding round was led by Temasek, with participation from Koch Disruptive Technologies, Union Tech Ventures, Harel Insurance & Finance, Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech), Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), KSH Capital, Princeville Capital, Wharton Equity Ventures, and others. Fabric has now raised $336 million to date.
The backing was announced the same day that the German robotics vendor Magazino said it had extended the size of its robot fleet at European fashion platform Zalando, adding 20 additional “TORU” bots to the existing flock of eight already running at the company’s logistics site in Lahr, Germany.
Also Tuesday, Kentucky-based robotics vendor Badger said it had launched a pilot program for its autonomous robots to cruise retail aisles while monitoring on-shelf product availability and verifying prices for the Midwest-region home supply chain Busy Beaver Building Centers.
The new money will allow logistics robotics vendors to help retailers cope with a leap in e-commerce sales penetration rates that more than doubled to 35% in 2020, the equivalent of roughly ten years of growth within a few months, according to Fabric. At the same time, that surge in online shopping has been compounded by evolving consumer expectations to receive their orders faster than ever.
Fabric runs micro-fulfillment operations for grocery and general merchandise retailers in New York City, Washington, DC, and Tel Aviv, Israel. The firm also announced new projects in January with Walmart and in July with Instacart and also with FreshDirect.
Fabric’s funding makes it the latest logistics startup company to be valued at $1 billion or more by investors, as a new generation of unicorn firms produce digital tools to create more efficient supply chain processes in a strained market.
Big news! Magazino extends the robot fleet at Europe's leading fashion platform #Zalando . Some of the additional robots will already support the picking of shoes ordered online during #CyberWeek 2021. https://t.co/U1B1sVMBNk#pickbyrobot #automation #BlackFriday #footwear— Magazino (@MagazinoGmbH) October 26, 2021