Carted is building an API that can power universal commerce experiences anywhere on the internet, allowing developers and creators to build a checkout anywhere.
The Tidal team recently made an investment into Carted, and we're publishing our investment notes below. We invest across a range of markets, models and products, there are core principles that we live and die by in our investment decisions. For more information on the pillars that make a great Tidal Seed Investment, see our investment criteria here.
Markets with tailwinds
E-commerce is an enormous market - USD$10 trillion - and is forecast to grow at ~15% p.a. to 2027 (Grandview Research). Covid-19 further accelerated what was already a clear trend towards online commerce, driving years' worth of e-commerce adoption in months. Tidal have had conviction around the e-commerce thematic for some time, and have made investments in a number of pioneering companies in the space, including Shippit, Sajari, and Drive Yello.
Today, the online retail world resembles the physical one, in that we purchase products from a "store", offering a collection of products for sale. Regardless of where customers discover a brand or product - be it search, content, social, or friends - they are taken to the online store to transact.
Universal commerce presents a way to attach a transactional capability to a product, instantly creating a commerce experience. Why does this matter? By enabling a buyer to seamlessly purchase a product or service where they discover it, it permits contextual commerce. There are a range of new contextual commerce experiences that could be created - including collaborative, social, conversational video, and voice commerce.
Products that change the game
Enter Carted - who closely embodies our thesis around the next generation of e-commerce, by embedding commerce within the online experiences that users value the most. Carted's vision is:
To build the API that powers commerce experiences anywhere on the internet, allowing developers and creators to build a checkout anywhere.
The API connects the fragmented players across the e-commerce ecosystem. This enables platforms, creators, influencers, and developers, who previously would need to integrate with brands and retailers one by one, to sell products directly on their platform, retain customers and traffic, monetise their audience, and build new e-commerce experiences.
Our thesis: if Carted is able to deliver this important infrastructure, it will shift the relationships between buyer, intermediary, and seller across the value chain; and will enable developers to build new contextual commerce experiences in entirely new and interesting ways.
Founders that hustle
Holly Cardew and Mike Angell are the team to solve this problem. They are multi-time company builders and accomplished operators with deep domain expertise in the e-commerce space, complementary skill sets, and relentless hustle. Holly has built four Shopify apps and founded Pixc, helping merchants organise their product catalogs, whilst Mike has experience at Culture Kings, Shopify, and Fast, and is a self-taught developer who founded his first e-commerce business all the way back in 2004. Their unique insight and clarity of vision for Carted is borne from their shared frustration of the experience uncovered when they set out to build Vop, where they created a shoppable Tik Tok feed, and realised no single checkout experience could integrate products from multiple vendors.
A compelling business model
Carted's business model is compelling as it simultaneously drives value for stakeholders across the e-commerce value chain:
- Platforms can earn revenue for their content, own their customers, and build new e-commerce experiences.
- Customers benefit from superior commerce experiences created through contextual commerce, including ease of use and a shorter path to conversion
- Merchants/brands benefit through increased revenue opportunities, gaining new customers and increasing product visibility across a range of platforms.
By providing the infrastructure, Carted has the potential to clip the ticket on e-commerce sales and take a slice of a very large pie, with significant volumes. Revenue opportunities include; interchange fee, affiliate commissions, promotional codes and product markups, Fx rate conversions, and API calls.
The seed phase
Carted sits firmly within its Seed phase - and will be turning its focus to building out its product, hiring a stellar team, and beginning to connect a vast product index to a variety of integrations to form their infrastructure. They will be striving to build out the core API and demonstrate value across a few platforms - earning the right to connect parties across e-commerce and then building out a compelling product roadmap.
Our experience and thinking on the future of commerce is how we gained conviction at Tidal to back Carted. We are incredibly excited to partner with Holly and Mike on the journey ahead. Stay tuned for updates on their website (they're hiring), Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A note on the future of commerce thematic
There are numerous components in the broader e-commerce value chain. However in this context, the scope is about observing the transactional aspect of the e-commerce experience evolving across a spectrum:
- Firstly, a centralised model of aggregation and scale, embodied by Amazon
- Then, a decentralised model of platforms & services for vendors, embodied by Shopify
- Next, a universal commerce model blurs the lines of what a traditional store, merchant, affiliate and more is, and therefore opens up entirely new experiences that are defined by a creative ecosystem.
Carted is building this new and exciting infrastructure for the future of commerce. If you're a visionary founder who is ready to make waves, please reach out via our website.
Thanks to Max Kausman for help drafting this post.