Sometimes, online shopping is more about comfort or killing time or numbing out than actually buying anything. We leave items in our “carts” as wishlists, and those items may eventually never get bought.
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For online retailers, that lack of urgency can leave up to 70 percent of online carts left “abandoned.”
San Francisco-based Bolt is hoping to fill that gap between browsing and buying. After launching in January 2018, the company recently raised a $68 million in a Series B to “perfect the online check out process.” Its total funding is at $90 million. The latest round was led by Activant Capital and Tribe Capital. Executives from Allbirds, REVOLVE, Jet.com, and Bombas also participated in the round.
The funding will be used to build a better buying experience, from landing on a site to completing a check out. In the last year, the company has grown from 20 to 120 people with its revenue multiplying by 10.
“Your seamlessness and conversion of your check out is really parallel to your success [as an online retailer],’ said Bolt CEO Ryan Breslow. “It’s why people go on Amazon, it’s easy to check out quickly.”
Bolt integrates with shopping carts like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and soon PayPal, to help individual online retailers make sure their check out is specific to their product. Bolt works with a variety of customers, from sunglasses to street wear, that bring in millions in online sales.
Some companies need physical in-store pickup, while others need to make sure they can deliver globally.
“Everyone you talk to, they have glaring major issues relating to check out, and I think that is the reason this opportunity exists [for Bolt],” Breslow said.
Bolt is not a payments processing company or a shopping cart. Instead, it helps make sure all of those parts work as a “layer in between.” By connecting to shopping carts and payment processing, Bolt can use data to optimize both to make sure “customers never have to leave a merchant’s website when checking out,” the company said.
Breslow claims it sees a double digit percent lift in overall conversion rate, of customers to buyers, within its 200 companies it works with.
Startups working in this part of the retail world are finding their share of the market. Take Cubyn, for example, which recently raised $13.5 million to help online retailers keep inventory managed and stocked. Or Retail Zipline, which describes itself as a “Slack for stores” and raised $9.6 million in a Series A led by Emergence Capital. The company says it provides a communications and task management solution for retailers.
Andrew Radlow, the chief business officer of Grabango, a startup working to make physical check out experiences better, says that both offline and online retailers struggle with this problem.
“While the industry has generally streamlined the online shopping experience through customization, the offline checkout experience has not been updated since the introduction of the barcode reader and is not as customer-centric,” he said. “It is as if the checkout experience is separate from the shoppers’ journey.”
So both offline and online retail, and all of its wonky room for error, is looking to be optimized by startups around the world. Perhaps Bolt, by aiming at the last step of the process, will find a lucrative home for itself.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.