E-commerce is still a small percentage of total retail sales, but it is growing. In the first quarter of 2016, e-commerce accounted for only 7.7 percent of total sales, according to The U.S. Census Bureau. By 2019, it will around 10 percent, eMarketer estimates.
Yet there are still some big problems with buying online right now, most notably when it comes to the post-purchase process. Tracking orders can be a giant pain, depending on which carrier is delivering the package, and returning items is even worse. The problem is that most companies don’t have the technology to make that part of the cycle feel better for the customer, making it a hair-pulling experience.
That is where Narvar comes in. It’s a solution dedicated to improving that part of the cycle, by making it easier for customers to track, and return, their purchases, and for companies to get a better feel for the satisfaction of their customers.
The company announced a new round of funding on Thursday, revealing it has raised a $22 million Series B round led by Battery Ventures, along with Fung Capital and existing investors Accel and Freestyle Capital, who also participated.
Narvar had previously raised $12 million in funding, including a $10 million round in August of last year. Its total funding now stands at roughly $34 million.
Founded in 2012, Narvar says it “exists to help retailers champion their customers at every step of the journey. We bring together expertise in engineering, supply chain, interaction design, customer service and more, to make really great customer experiences accessible, turnkey and beautiful.”
The company gives customers automatic updates about their order, enables personalized SMS, automated FAQs and live chat support. For the retailer, it provides insights into user engagement and supply chain performance, with user ratings, click-through analysis, and proactive alerts.
“When people buy online they get email that their order is confirmed, and that it shipped, but if they want more information, like where their package is, they have to click through various carriers, like UPS, which creates a hassle. The information is different in every network, and dates may not be available, and it causes frustration for the consumer,” Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of Narva, told me in an interview.
As it stands right now, between 30 to 40 percent of calls to customer service occur after the customer has hit the buy button. With Narvar, the retailer is able to provide a platform where the customer doesn’t have to leave the ecosystem for that info. Instead, it’s provided for them, “in a much more customer friendly manner.”
“This benefits customer experience, and increases satisfaction scores. That means customer expenses go down, and happy customers do repeat business,” said Sharma.
In regards to returns and exchanges, the company has a similar system as Amazon, in which customers can log in and create a label.
“We defined this category. We are a full stack company, which means we drive an end-to-end experience, providing a user interface and back-end optimization. Others focus on the user experience, or the back end, but theres no other company doing end-to-end. That allows us to be more holistic and much better in terms of end-to-end to customers,” said Sharma.
Narvar has been growing fast over the past year. The company expanded its customer base threefold, growing monthly recurring revenues by 4X. Narvar’s customers now include 77 of the Internet Retailer 300.
While most of Narvar’s customers are on the high end, with brands like Home Depot, Nordstrom and Sephorait, does also put some focus on the mid-market and SMB, “for strategy purposes,” said Sharma, with retail brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker.
“When we partnered with Bononos it was much smaller, and has now grown quite big. So we go after aspirational brands, and make sure we promise long term partnerships,” he told me.
The company has been able to show significant ROI for its customers. Narvar is able to boosts Net Promoter Scores for its customers by up to four points, and lowers WISMO (Where is My Order) call volume by as much as 30 percent, within days.
The company plans to use the funding to expand its team, including in product, engineering, and customer success. It currently has 60 employees, and is looking to double that by the end of this year.
It also plans to expand beyond retail, to become “a true omni-channel solution,” said Sharma.
“At a high level, any time you place an order from anywhere, anything that is going from point A to point B, Narvar will engage in those experiences,” he said. “We are currently in online e-commerce, but we will go beyond retail, to categories like B2B, heavy industry and hardware.”
In addition to the funding, it was also revealed that Roger Lee, general partner of Battery Ventures, will join the board of directors at Narvar.
“While most e-commerce companies have focused on enhancing the ‘front-end” customer experience—improving the way they interact with a website while shopping—many don’t have the technology or insights to continue impressing customers after they’ve actually bought something,” Lee said in a statement. “Narvar’s team has figured this out, and has already built an impressive customer roster. We are excited to partner with them.”
“Look at Roger’s background. He’s a serial entrepreneur himself, with tremendous experience in building scalable, fast companies. Having that kind of expertise is very valuable for us at this stage of the company,” said Sharma.
“We are also very excited to have Fung Capital on board. They are known for improving retail supply chain efficiency, and having that level of domain expertise is important as well. They are the best of the industry.”
(Image source: corp.narvar.com)