packages left outside the front door of a home
Fabric aims to make it easier for companies to scale their offerings and remain competitive with a solution that is quicker and more affordable for brands to implement. — Getty Images/Jennifer J Taylor

As e-commerce becomes increasingly important to brands and retailers, they are seeking technology solutions that suit their specific needs and enable them to efficiently scale the online side of their businesses.

Small brands can easily partner with existing platforms such as Amazon to offer their products online, but those companies that want to take more control over their e-commerce capabilities and customer experiences need tools of their own. That’s the space where startup e-commerce platform Fabric aims to compete, seeking to draw brands away from established providers such as Shopify and Magento.

As a “headless” system, Fabric offers a comprehensive suite of services designed to be easily added to existing software in a modular, API (application programming interface)-based fashion, as needed. These solutions can speed implementation for merchants, as compared with more rigid platforms that may be difficult to scale.

Modular, API-based systems allow retailers to add functionality quickly as they need it, and, importantly for multi-channel retailers, allow different systems to share data with each other. For example, data from a pricing and promotions solution can be linked to a product information database, while the two are managed separately. This allows merchandisers to upload product information, while marketers create promotions simultaneously.

In addition, as e-commerce channels expand to include more access points, such as mobile apps, APIs would allow these channels to work together via a customer relationship management (CRM) system, for example. So, a shopper who starts to place an order on a mobile app but abandons their shopping cart could later receive an email prompt with a link to the retailer’s website, where the cart would be waiting and a transaction could be completed.

Such functionality, driven by Fabric’s roster of e-commerce veterans, can provide an attractive alternative for brands entering the e-commerce space or growing their e-commerce presence, according to Faisal Masud, the former Google and Amazon executive who was recently named CEO of Fabric. The startup also announced $9.5 million in seed funding, led by Redpoint Ventures.

Rather than replatforming, brands can utilize our tools to address their specific needs, saving time, money and engineering resources.

Faisal Masud, CEO, Fabric

Harnessing lessons learned from Google, Amazon, eBay and Groupon

Fabric has already been working with some retailers and manufacturers to advance their omnichannel efforts, and has its sights set on becoming a new omnichannel resource for major brands.

“Brands have different needs, depending on their industry, resources and existing commerce systems,” said Masud. “With an API-driven modular system such as ours, brands have the option to use the entire suite of products, or to use individual products to plug into their existing systems. Rather than replatforming, brands can utilize our tools to address their specific needs, saving time, money and engineering resources.”

Masud most recently had been with Google’s Wing division, where he launched a drone delivery program for food and drug retailers, and previously ran business units at eBay and Groupon. He spent seven years at Amazon and was chief digital officer and chief technology officer at Staples. He co-founded Fabric with Ryan Bartley, who had worked with Masud at Staples and had been with eBay before that.

Their e-commerce experience has taught them to recognize the needs of retailers, they said, which is why they built Fabric to make it easier for companies to scale their offerings and remain competitive as they grow. They see other solutions on the market as too constraining, or too time-consuming and costly for brands to implement and update because they often require retailers to deploy engineers to create the solutions they need, as opposed to simply adding on modular functionalities.

 faisal masud headshot
Faisal Masud, CEO of Fabric. — Fabric

Modular systems gain traction: More ‘sophisticated personalization’ for ABC Carpet & Home

While the jury is still out on their widespread adoption, tech solutions such as Fabric have been growing more popular, said Paul Rogers, managing director at e-commerce consulting firm Vervaunt.

“Micro-services-based architectures and this general approach to e-commerce technology is getting more popular every day, with businesses able to use only the services they need and also scale those services more effectively,” he said. “I think the modular approach within platform stacks will continue to grow, particularly at the enterprise level, where monolith systems are quite dominant currently.”

Rogers said he has seen more demand among larger merchants for API-first platforms such as Fabric and CommerceTools, although he noted that SaaS (software as a service) tools such as BigCommerce and Shopify Plus continue to offer “a very compelling solution” alongside them.

Brands that have already been using Fabric’s modular solutions include ABC Carpet & Home, BuildDirect and Juicy Couture.

Aaron Rose, CEO of ABC Carpet & Home, said his company chose to partner with Fabric in order to improve the digital customer experience the company provided and to more rapidly grow its e-commerce business.

He said that within months of implementation, ABC’s site speed increased, online engagement expanded significantly and conversion ad revenue run rates nearly tripled.

"We chose to partner with Fabric because of the forward-thinking vision and deep e-commerce expertise its founders bring to the platform,” said Rose. “Fabric’s solution is architected to enable us to drive a much more sophisticated level of personalization,” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone else do this in the market.”

Fabric’s tools can be installed in a fraction of the time that other platforms may require, according to Masud, touting that speed as one differentiating advantage over legacy platforms. “There is no ‘rip-and-replace’ requirement, since we are modular and don’t require a replatform from our customers.”

Going forward, Masud said Fabric plans to use its new capital infusion to further develop its platform and accelerate customer acquisition in the business-to-consumer and direct-to-consumer space.

Investor Redpoint Ventures is betting that the startup “brings something completely new and invaluable to the multi-trillion-dollar retail market,” said Alex Bard, partner and managing director of the firm that led Fabric’s recent funding round. “The fact that Fabric is a force multiplier on retailers’ existing technology investments and can be live in weeks versus months gives it an incredible advantage over legacy platforms that can't keep up with the demands of consumers today. Since Faisal and the team bring deep operating experience from the world’s top e-commerce companies, the platform is built for the way retailers need to grow.”

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Published January 06, 2021