Remember the days when shopping meant walking into your favorite store and being greeted by the familiar face of someone who knew your tastes, your routine, and maybe even a little about your social life?
Just because we do so much of our shopping online today doesn’t mean we can’t still have that high-touch experience. What if, while sweating it out on your Peloton with trainer Olivia Amato, your go-to retailer recommends the same top she’s wearing right on your screen? Or, while reading an article about Fernando Tatís Jr. on ESPN, you see his collector’s jersey come up on your computer?
In a digital world, can retailers still cater to customers with thoughtful recommendations rooted in a deep understanding of their personal preferences, even if we are doing ever more of our shopping remotely?
Many companies have developed e-commerce platforms that promise to deliver “actionable data” and “immersive customer experiences.” But, because of the complexity of the ecosystem — from the logistics of order fulfillment and delivery, to the increasing fragmentation of the consumer arena by device, social media and other factors — forward-looking brands need an e-commerce solution created by proven leaders in the space with grassroots knowledge of the challenges 21st century retailers face.
Enter Bryan Mahoney and Henry Davis, co-founders of Chord Commerce, a new company that offers technology and data products that will give all direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies the ability to enhance their businesses by building on cutting-edge IT infrastructure designed to give customers the best digital experience across any current or future channel — and in any geographic region.
Chord combines the most headless commerce stack available with a powerful data component to offer what it calls commerce-as-a-service. Chord gives D2C entrepreneurs and operators access to substantial competitive and performance advantages to help them in an increasingly crowded landscape without the need to invest millions of dollars building tech and data teams.
Bryan and Henry were the best entrepreneurs to build this solution. They are proven leaders in e-commerce innovation who indeed know, first-hand, the challenges that emerging brands face. Bryan is the former Chief Technology Officer of the popular beauty brand Glossier, and Henry is the brand’s former President. Together, they led the growth of digitally native Glossier into a billion-dollar-plus company that operates in seven countries.
For background, Chord was formerly known as Arfa, a commerce platform for creating the next generation of D2C brands that Bryan and Henry founded after leaving Glossier. Realizing how powerful its commerce technology and data platform could be for the broader industry, the company is now focused exclusively on selling its technology and data products. To enhance its offering, Arfa acquired Yaguara and, following the acquisition, rebranded to Chord.
The company’s $18 million Series A fundraise, led by Eclipse, helped make this possible. Although the combination of two early-stage, venture-backed companies seems unusual, this is not unique to Eclipse. We have a practice dedicated to thinking creatively about company formation that we call “venture equity.”
This strategy combines new or existing assets with technology, capital, scale capability and executive leadership. Other companies in our portfolio that exemplify this approach include Bright Machines, BrightInsight and Metrolink.
Eclipse has also invested specifically in e-commerce enablement since the founding of our firm. We started in the physical world with investments in areas like warehouse automation — namely, 6 River Systems and Kindred Systems (acquired by Shopify and Ocado, respectively), as well as Third Wave Automation. We’ve also been longtime partners with last-mile delivery company AxleHire. Why? Because digital commerce requires digital infrastructure.
Being immersed in this space, we witnessed the evolution of omni-channel and international commerce, and the maturation of the API ecosystem as embodied by companies like Stripe, Twilio and Plaid. Our learnings from the physical world were the catalyst for a thesis on digital e-commerce infrastructure — we saw the problems, and knew it was possible to develop a solution.
As we spoke with retail brands, our conviction to build an API-first platform for e-commerce grew and the advantages of this “headless” approach became clear. But we felt like existing solutions lacked something: a brain that turns all the data into actionable insights.
The question was: How do we take this modern architecture, which enables more seamless customer experiences, and clearly relay those benefits back to the brand so that it can understand and analyze its customers wherever they are, in an increasingly fragmented consumer arena?
Here we needed experts, which is why we feel fortunate to have found and partnered with Bryan and Henry. Chord will give forward-looking brands the best technology stack to thrive in the fast and ever-evolving e-commerce landscape. That’s what Bryan and Henry are passionate about, so the brands themselves can stay focused on what they care about most: selling product and pleasing customers.
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