One of the biggest issues in the ecommerce world is the predicament of shopping cart abandonment – when shoppers don’t get what they want fast enough, whether it’s finding the right item or pay for it quickly and easily. – they bounce. This singular problem is driving a wave of technological development to make the experience even more seamless, and today one of the companies closely involved in this space is announcing funding on the back of healthy growth.
Constructor, which has pioneered technology that powers research and product discovery tools for e-commerce businesses, has raised $ 55 million in a Series A funding round. Constructor says that it powers “billions” of queries every month, with revenue up 233% in the past year. Clients he works with include Sephora, Walmart’s Bonobos, Backcountry, and many other big names.
The cycle is led by Silversmith Capital Partners – who coincidentally, just today, led another cycle for an e-commerce startup, Zonos.
He is joined by a long list of notable individual investors. Among them, David Fraga, former president of InVision; Kevin Weil, former product manager at Twitter and Instagram; Jason Finger, founder of Seamless; Carl Sparks, former CEO of Travelocity; Robyn Peterson, CTO at CNN; Dave Heath, founder of Bombas; Ryan Barretto, president of Sprout Social; Melody Hildebrandt, executive vice president of engineering and RSSI at FOX; Zander Rafael, co-founder of Better.com; and Seth Shaw, CRO at Airtable. Cap Table Coalition – a company that helps under-represented core investors support emerging startups – was also involved. Fraga joins the builder’s board of directors with this round.
The past year and a half has been an exceptional one for the ecommerce world – with more traffic, transactions, and retailers moving online as a result of social distancing measures impacting physical in-person purchases. But it also revealed a lot of flaws in how e-commerce works (or doesn’t, as the case may be).
One of the most dysfunctional areas is research and discovery. As most of us have unfortunately learned firsthand, when we search for things in an online store’s search window, it almost always happens that the results don’t have what we want.
When we browse like we would in a physical store, because we’re not sure what we want, too often we’re not prompted with pictures of things we’d actually like to buy. They can be there – we usually visit sites because we already know them or have seen something we like elsewhere – but nonetheless, finding what we would actually like to buy can take a long time, and in many cases, may not be. never happen at all.
Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and Founder of Constructor, explains that one of the problems is that research and discovery are often built as static experiences: they are designed to respond to a unique model where the site architects have effectively guessed what is a buyer might want, and built for it. This is an area that Constructor has redesigned, especially making search and discovery more dynamic and responsive to what happened before you visited a site.
“One of the problems with product discovery is that sites are prescriptively showing you what they think is valuable to you,” he said. “We think the process should be descriptive.
As an example, he mentioned Cheetos. Sometimes people who want to buy these products start by going to the potato chips category. In many static searches, these results may not include Cheetos. Some people may give up their search (bounce) altogether, but some may walk away from it and specifically search for Cheetos and add them to their baskets. In a descriptive and more dynamic environment, Finkelshteyn believes that these two flows should subsequently inform all future chip research.
“We are taking into account as much data as we can learn, and this list just keeps growing,” he said. “The goal is that whatever we can learn should be part of the user experience. “
Google is the current and undisputed leader in the search world, and it also uses many dynamic AI-based tools to learn and refine the way it searches and the results it produces.
Interestingly, this hasn’t been extended as much to third parties as you might think. The company discontinued its own site search product in 2017 and now, if you’re looking for that, you’re taken to the company’s business search suite.
However, others have also stepped into this void to provide competing services from Constructor, including Algolia, Yext, Elasticsearch and more. Finkelshteyn believes that among all of these, none have yet succeeded in providing a service like Constructor’s that is constantly learning and adjusting its results based on search and browsing activity.
This is one of the reasons the company stood out among its clients and investors.
“Constructor has created a research and discovery platform that really makes a difference for corporate retailers. They provide customers with comprehensive and optimized research and discovery that is unmatched in the market, ”said Sri Rao, builder board member and general partner of Silversmith Capital Partners, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the Constructor team as they continue to revolutionize search and discovery capabilities for retailers across all platforms. “
In the future, there will be exciting opportunities for Constructor to take its research and discovery tools to new frontiers. These could include ways to attract and account for buyers on third-party platforms – currently Constructor does not feed experiences on, for example, social media, so this is a potential area to explore – as well as other offline experiences, essential as retailers and shoppers take more blended approaches that can start online and end in stores, or work the other way around, or find users walking around with their phone to shop even if they are in physical stores.