Bond, a New York-based startup that offers delivery and distribution center services to ecommerce companies, has raised $15 million in a round of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, MizMaa Ventures, and TLV Partners.
Founded in 2019, Bond has developed the technology and infrastructure to enable direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands to quickly deliver their products and accept returns more easily. Ultimately, it helps smaller ecommerce companies keep apace with the likes of Amazon, as it gives them access to an on-demand delivery network and “nano distribution centers” (NDCs) — owned by Bond — situated in neighborhoods near where the products are to be delivered.
On the software side, Bond is an application programming interface (API) that companies integrate into their own ecommerce apps and websites to offer deliveries. Bond also offers integrations with popular ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, Shippo, Magento, and WooCommerce.
Through these various integrations, retailers can offer their customers access to so-called “last-mile” delivery services with available slots covering three-hour delivery windows that same-day if the order is placed before 1pm, or the next day if the order comes in later. Deliveries can also be tracked in real-time, with customers able to communicate with the courier through the app, while they can also schedule a courier to collect an item if they want to return it for a refund.
Underpinning this are physical distribution centers which Bond has opened in strategic locations in neighborhoods across New York City, with plans afoot to start targeting other U.S. markets in the coming years.
For now, Bond manages delivery and storage for more than 30 brands in the Big Apple from six distribution centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while it has also partnered with third-party distribution centers to offer deliveries to some locales in Queens and New Jersey. By March, Bond said that it plans to open a further six NDCs in the New York metro area, with dozens more to follow as it targets new neighborhoods and cities throughout 2020 and beyond.
This represents part of a broader trend in which retailers, including grocery giants such as Walmart and Safeway owner Albertsons, are building smaller urban fulfillment centers near their existing stores to cater to a growing number of orders placed online. Emerging startups such as Israel’s Fabric, which recently secured $110 million in financing, and Canada’s Attabotics, are also building businesses around “microfulfillment centers” designed to expedite shipping in space-limited city centers.
Bond said it currently manages 15,000 deliveries each month, covering everything from mattresses to groceries. It charges for each service that its customer requires, including delivery, storage, and other “post-purchase experiences,” such as fulfillment (picking and packing) according to specific brand guidelines.
Pricing varies, but the company said that in Manhattan and Brooklyn deliveries should cost between $8 and $12 per item, depending on the weight and number of delivery windows. Storage prices really depend on the number of pallets and frequency of use.
Bond was born out of an Israeli online grocery startup called Shookit, also backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, which developed much of the technology and concepts behind Bond over the past three years. Shookit’s cofounders elected to spin out the technology as its own company based in New York and offer it to other online retailers — a new management team is now leading Shookit out of Tel Aviv.
At its core, Bond promises to help online retailers ensure better customer service after a purchase has been made. Indeed, companies typically have limited control over the customer experience once it has been dispatched, something that Bond hopes to change.
“Last-mile delivery is like satisfaction death valley,” noted Bond cofounder and CEO Asaf Hachmon. “Online brands spend tons of money on ensuring consumers have the absolute best user experience while on their website, yet are forced to entrust couriers to deliver products with that same level of care and attention — and all too often they don’t. We learned that firsthand at Shookit, and it’s why we created Bond.”
Nabbing a major Silicon Valley investor such as Lightspeed Venture Partners is also a notable milestone for Bond. Lightspeed has previously invested ecommerce startups including Bonobos, which was acquired by Walmart in 2017, and lending startup Affirm which was cofounded by PayPal co-creator Max Levchin.
“We’re investors in many ‘web native’ and direct-to-consumer brands, and came to know their challenges up close,” added Lightspeed Venture Partners’ partner Tal Morgenstern. “One of the biggest challenges these brands are facing is last-mile delivery. Customer experience is very much at the core of these brands but this important touch point with the end user in the real world is often handled by third parties and can be destructive if handled poorly. With Bond, brands can tailor the customer experience and extend their reach to the very doorstep of every customer so we’re excited to see different brands leveraging these new capabilities in creative ways to delight their users and drive growth.”