Startups

Darkstore wants to be the ‘invisible retailer’

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Darkstore, the on-demand fulfillment startup, recently partnered with T-Force Final Mile to expand to 33 additional markets across the nation. This brings Darkstore’s total list of markets to 40, which includes San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Reno and Austin.

T-Force Final Mile is a last-mile delivery company that delivers items for IKEA, Office Depot and Amazon. Thanks to the partnership, Darkstore will be able to use T-Force’s 40 warehouses across the country as fulfillment centers.

In order to expand its customer base, Darkstore has also launched a hosted shopping cart, which makes it easy for e-commerce brands to offer on-demand delivery to its customers with just a single line of code.

Darkstore’s partnership with T-Force and the launch of its hosted shopping cart is part of Darkstore’s goal to become an “invisible retailer,” Darkstore founder Lee Hnetinka told me last week.

Darkstore works by exploiting excess capacity in storage facilities, malls and bodegas and enables them to be fulfillment centers with just a smartphone. The idea is that brands without local inventory can store it in a Darkstore and then ship out same-day. Darkstore doesn’t charge brands anything to store inventory, but charges 3 percent per item that leaves Darkstore, with a minimum of $2 and a maximum of $20.

When it comes to actual deliveries, Darkstore partners with companies like AxleHire and UberRUSH in San Francisco. In other markets, Darkstore uses services like Deliv and other local courier companies the brand wants to use.

Darkstore’s roster of customers includes mattress startup Tuft & Needle, premium headphones maker Master & Dynamic, clothing brand Wildfang and sofa startup Burrow.

Darkstore first launched last May. Since then, Darkstore has gone on to raise more than $1.5 million in funding. In April, following a $1.4 million round of funding from PivotNorth, Darkstore’s goal was to hit $110 million worth of products fulfilled by the end of this year. Darkstore hit that metric “faster than we anticipated,” Hnetinka said.

On average, Darkstore makes $16.50 per order, with an average order value of $550.22. In the last year, Darkstore has seen 25 percent month over month growth of revenue and orders.

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