WorldStores, a U.K.-based online retailer of home and garden products going after supplier scale to fuel its growth, has raised £10 million (US$15.2 million) in Series C funding, led by Serena Capital. Existing investors Balderton Capital and Advent Venture Partners also participated in the round. The new funding brings WorldStores’ total funding to £21 million.
The retailer says it plans to use the new funding to continue to grow its supplier network and expand its product range, which currently exceeds more than 500,000 lines. Ramping up the number of products it ranges is a core plank of WorldStores’ growth strategy. It reckons it stocks more than 15 times more products than its main competitors, and says this breadth of choice helped it attract more than 200,000 new customers in the past 12 months.
Flexible delivery options are also oiling the wheels of its growth, with more than 800 suppliers linked directly into its technology platform — allowing it to offer next-day or day-of-choice delivery on 80 percent of the goods it sells. WorldStores says its sales grew by 50 percent last year, and it’s targeting £75 million of sales in 2013, all in the U.K. All of which sounds much like the Amazon e-commerce philosophy: big, broad and — from the consumer delivery point of view — as convenient as possible.
It’s also worth noting that the focus of European home furnishings giant IKEA on its bricks-and-mortar retail experience has left something of a gap for a dedicated online player to muscle in. IKEA does sell some products via its website, but its focus remains on getting customers to come to its stores in person — where they spend money on incidentals (like eating in its restaurants). This means IKEA’s e-commerce offering is deliberately curtailed, stocking only a limited range of the products that are available in its physical stores.
Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Marc Fournier, managing partner of Serena Capital, said: “We are most impressed with the company’s accomplishments and its ability to become a national UK leader in such a short period of time. We look forward to supporting the management and the company in these exciting times of fast growth. Serena Capital will participate in making Worldstores a unique online retail leader for the home through the depth and quality of its products and through the excellence of its customer experience.”