Corner stores go digital on ecommerce tailwind

A recent fundraise is a bellwether for the digital transition now underway for grocers of all sizes.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

A company that brings online grocery fulfillment to grocers of all size, including mom & pops, just raised $21m in an extended Series A. It's an indication of a rapidly transforming retail environment, which has moved en masse to digital faster than expected thanks to COVID-19

Stor.ai, based in Israel, has developed a technology suite to support food retailers' transition to online, integrating fulfilment methods and point of sale and retail catalogues into what the company calls a mobile-first, custom-branded eCommerce experience. Formerly known as Self Point, the company boasts that it can transition a grocer to its ordering and fulfillment ecosystem within days, a massive cost and time savings over custom solutions.

"I am delighted to see stor.ai build on the 250% year-on-year growth we achieved over the past twelve months and begin an exciting new era for the company, in which we are set to expand both our product offering and our customer base," says Orlee Tal, CEO, Stor.ai. "Our digital transformation platform provides a win-win scenario for customers and grocers alike: shoppers replicate the in-store experience at their favorite stores, while stores can seamlessly integrate a range of digital solutions at a time when facilitating online shopping is integral to their business. Customer-first commerce is the future of this industry."

The company's model is largely rooted in bringing about digital transformation and advanced analytics of a kind that's helped players like Amazon and Walmart gobble market share. Stor.ai is riding a tailwind during COVID-19, which has seen massive upheavals in consumer behavior and spending habits. By some estimates, the projected value of digital grocery sales in 2025 now some 60% higher than pre-pandemic estimates.

Stor.ai's technology tracks a broader trend of automation and digitization technologies making their way to SMBs in the grocery business. Company's like Starship and Tortoise are offering automation and delivery solutions — i.e., grocery robots — for grocers of all sizes.

We recently covered Stor.ai's efforts to enable small grocers to accept SNAP, also known as food stamps. Many food stamp users have been de facto barred from online shopping due to a paucity of options. 

The latest funding round will help the company extend its market reach and expand its product offering.

"Stor.ai has established a reputation as a market leader providing top-of-the range technological solutions, helping retailers realign to customers' needs during the most challenging time for business in recent history," says Guy Mani of Meitav Dash's, which led the extended Series A. "We are proud to support such exciting eCommerce products, as online grocery shopping continues to capture record market shares, with stor.ai ideally placed to build on its current growth and expand throughout 2021 and beyond. Customers' needs and preferences are constantly evolving, and we trust stor.ai's experience, market leadership and ability to help shape future trends with flexible and creative solutions that will enhance the entire customer-based experience for any retailer."

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