Pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce helps Huboo’s warehousing platform close $81M

Many e-commerce businesses run their entire order fulfillment process in-house because outsourcing it can be expensive. But the COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as consumers switched to home deliveries and “digitized” their lifestyles to a far greater extent. It means this surge in e-commerce sales is subsequently leading to a boom in warehousing and shipping.

It would seem then that Huboo was virtually tailor-made for the post-pandemic era. It has a full-stack, software-driven e-commerce warehousing and fulfillment system that is turning out to be a boon to these e-commerce-driven SMBs.

It’s now closed a £60 million ($81.4 million) Series B financing led by U.S.-based Mubadala Capital. The round was joined by existing investors including Stride, Ada Ventures, Hearst, Episode 1 and Maersk Growth, and takes Huboo’s total funding raised to nearly £80 million since April 2019, after its £14 million Series A funding, raised last year.

Founded in 2017 by Martin Bysh and Paul Dodd out of one warehouse in Bristol, the company now has four fulfilment centres across the U.K., a site in the Netherlands, and has plans to roll out across other European markets. Each center is split into a “micro-hub” of a few hundred square foot enabling staff to pick and pack inventory more efficiently. It says it has over 1,000 customers, small and large.

The company’s merchant platform uses APIs to integrate with popular sales channels and online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Shopify. These allow D2C brands to view and track orders and manage their inventory on a dashboard. It also has proprietary software to manage warehouse operations.

Martin Bysh, co-founder and CEO of Huboo, said: “Scores of new and existing retail businesses now see their future in e-commerce, but while anyone can set up an online store-front and start selling within hours, the infrastructure powering e-commerce is alarmingly outdated, inefficient, inflexible and expensive.”

He said this hub model addresses this: “It brings flexibility and affordability to the incredibly complex fulfilment piece so that online retailers of all sizes — from part-timers to fast-growth D2C leaders — can benefit.”

Over a call, he added: “We win clients from Amazon’s ‘Fulfilled By Amazon’ (FBA) because part of the 20% that the seller pays to Amazon goes to cross-subsidize the inexpensive fulfillment, but if you’re trying to use FBA (because you’re selling on eBay or Shopify) it’s hopeless. It’s, like, three times as expensive. So we get people using Shopify or eBay. They love what we’re doing… We compete very effectively against them… They’re not the nimble creature they were years ago.”

Fatou Bintou Sagnang, partner at Mubadala Capital Ventures, said: “Huboo’s product solves one of the most critical pain points for e-commerce companies — while order fulfillment is a core function for these companies, it is not part of their core competency. By combining logistics with a user-friendly software platform, Huboo delivers a superior fulfillment experience and allows businesses of all sizes to continue focusing on core activities such as product development while managing growing demand from their customers.”

Matt Penneycard, founding partner at Ada Ventures, said: “Huboo is a shining light of U.K. tech, and we’re particularly delighted for a Bristol-based company to be succeeding this way! Martin and Paul’s incredible vision is becoming a global reality at supersonic speed.”

Fred Destin, founder at Stride.VC, said: “Huboo does the seemingly impossible — to deliver high-precision e-commerce fulfillment cost-effectively to businesses of all sizes and levels of complexity. Huboo innovates both in how it looks at logistics, as an interlocked set of Lego blocks connected by software, and how it looks at people, as a team of empowered self-starters obsessed about customer success.”