A $6M bet that small retailers can ship as fast as Amazon

An Israeli-based company is promising one-hour fulfillment services for brick-and-mortar stores of all sizes

CommonSense Robotics, which is hoping to give small companies the delivery chops that Amazon has using on-demand fulfillment robots in small urban delivery centers, just raised $6 million in seed funding.

Aleph VC and Innovation Endeavors, which ponied up the money, are betting that CommonSense can bring Amazon's one-hour delivery and on-demand fulfillment to companies that so far have been left out of the logistics and fulfillment revolution.

It's a familiar pitch, Just last week I wrote about the Amazon-prompted explosion in the logistics industry and another company, Locus Robotics, that is bringing fast fulfillment to medium-scale companies.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to offer quick shipping in a way that's profitable and scalable, and that's a huge market opportunity, especially as warehouse automation grows in capability and falls in price.

"On-demand is rapidly becoming the standard for retail businesses of all sizes from across the spectrum, and will be a critical determining factor between success and failure," says Elram Goren, CEO and Co-Founder of CommonSense Robotics, which is based in Israel.

CommonSense is proposing what it's calling "Micro-Fulfillment-Centers," small urban, automated spaces that combine the benefits of local distribution with the economics of automated fulfillment. Micro-fulfillment centers in big cities would receive, stock, and package merchandise of participating vendors based on predictive algorithms. Vendors would then arrange last-mile delivery solutions.

It's a smaller, chopped-up version of how Amazon's decidedly macro centers work.

That kind of solution is finding some success in the shipping industry, where companies like FedEx and UPS are experimenting with last-mile distribution and delivery to get their trucks off congested city streets. CommonSense's backers are betting the company can do the same for small retail.

"The use of AI and robotics to automate and streamline the process of fulfillment and distribution can bring significant savings in time and money to the retailers, the end consumers, and to the households," says Eden Shochat, a partner in Aleph.

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