Tulip Retail, which develops an end to end technology platform for in-store and online sales for retailers, has raised $2.4 million in funding led by SoftTech VC with Founder Collective, BoxGroup, Lerer Ventures, iNovia, Promus Ventures, KIMA Ventures, Matt Mullenweg, the founders of Bufferbox, and Greg Kidd participating.
The company’s founder Ali Asaria previously founded and launched Well.ca, Canada’s largest online health, baby and beauty store (as he explains it, Canada’s equivalent of Diapers.com). He was also a software and hardware developer at BlackBerry, and attended the University of Waterloo. Asaria stepped down earlier this year to focus on Tulip.
Tulip wants to help retailers to own multiple channels of retail. By pulling product, customer, and transactional information into a single, cloud-based hub, the Tulip Commerce engine allows large retailers to provide a similar purchasing experience in stores, and on the retailer’s website and mobile storefronts. By owning all of these channels for a retailer, Tulip can allow features like ordering online but fulfilling orders from the store, or ordering in the store in but shipping to the customer’s home.
Asaria tells me that companies like Square have provided this in some ways to small retailers, but he’s going after large retailers than need one backend solution that powers online, mobile, and in-store purchases. Part of the value of Tulip vs. old school enterprise options for retailers is that its option is lightweight and easy to use. And it comes at a much lower price point.
With the end to end offering, Tulip specifically offers both the hardware and software (which is particularly interesting coming from Ansar’s background at Blackberry). This includes software and hardware that allows retailers to work with their existing barcode scanner, UPC codes and debit/credit card terminals, while using Tulip’s touch-screen POS terminal. Tulip also offers an in-store kiosk for sales, and online technologies that will power mobile and web-based storefront and fulfillment. In addition, Tulip promises retailers in-depth analytics and we’re told that Tulip works alongside existing retail ERP and data-stores (SAP, Oracle, other).
It’s an ambitious project–and Tulip is up against a number of well-known competitors. PayPal is also is looking at owning online and in-store payments and commerce, it wouldn’t be surprising if Square entered online commerce and payments as well. But that doesn’t mean that Tulip can’t disrupt these companies and others, and may even have some acquisition interest along the way.
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