Fabric, a maker of robotic micro-fulfillment solutions for grocery and e-commerce retailers, announced today they have raised $200 million in a Series C funding round. The new funding puts the company’s valuation at $1 billion.
Formerly called Common Sense Robotics, Fabric works with large online grocers and retailers such as Walmart, Instacart, and FreshDirect to build automated micro-fulfillment centers via a mix of fulfillment-as-a-service and hybrid ownership models. The company’s solution involves an intricate blend of robotics, vertically stacked storage of products, and human operators and packers that help package up the final delivery and handoff to delivery drivers.
You can see what a Fabric micro-fulfillment center (MFC) in Tel Aviv looks like in action as it processes an order below:
The funding, which vaults the company into what it describes as a ‘robocorn’ status, is not a surprise given the fast growth of the company and the broader micro-fulfillment market. Interact Analysis forecasts MFC automation and robotics market to grow from $136 million in 2020 to $5.3 billion in 2025. Revenue growth will be fueled by a rapidly growing number of MFC installations in various formats throughout the forecast; Interact expects the the total number of MFCs installed annual to grow from 29 in 2020 to over 2100 new MFCs installed in 2025.
The company plans to use the funds to grow its fulfillment solution in the general merchandise market and build a network of micro-fulfillment centers in cities across the United States. The company’s model relies heavily on building warehouse fulfillment centers that allow grocery retailers to outsource micro-fulfillment to Fabric. Fabric also co-invests and builds distributed fulfillment centers in partnership with larger players such as Instacart and FreshDirect.
That strategy makes Fabric part of a new kind of third-party logistics (3PL) player built around robotics and automation as an enabling platform for their distributed fulfillment networks. While large 3PL companies like XPO Logistics and C.H. Robinson been adopting automation in their warehouses for some time, companies like Fabric, Exotec and Attabotics are building hybrid networks of dark and retail/integrated grocery MFCs architected from the get-go with robotics in mind (rather than a bolt-on or forced integration). As more retailers invest in distribution networks tailored towards a grocery industry with 50%+ e-commerce penetration, next-gen MFC platform companies like these are well-situated to benefit.
“While we use the term ‘robocorn’ a bit tongue in cheek, we see this milestone as a real turning point in the industry, from what was once trepid exploration of micro-fulfillment to total market validation and now rapid expansion,’ said Fabric CEO Elram Goren in the release sent to The Spoon. “We’re thankful to our partners for trusting us to serve them and to our incredible team who will continue moving mountains to make our vision a reality. This is still ‘day one’ for us, and we’re extremely excited about the road ahead as we expand our offering into new markets, drive more efficiencies across the supply chain, and focus on scaling.”