Endear is thrilled to announce our $2M Series Seed! Led by Reformation Partners with participation from Habitat Partners, this round marks a major milestone for the company. Now that we’re on the other side of it, we’re excited to share our story of what got us to this point (and what we’re planning next).
Every success needs a good origin story
As co-founders, we found our groove with Endear in mid-2019 once we uncovered a key reality: physical retail stores were very far behind their eCommerce counterparts when it came to innovation, even within the same company.
As online shopping surged in ease-of-use and popularity, all of a sudden stores that lacked technology and took foot traffic for granted found themselves competing in a global market, unlike the local market they were used to. But the other key insight we uncovered was that those who felt this pain most, the associates in the store, were therefore also the keenest to do something about it.
It was clear to store associates that they would have to take matters into their own hands and proactively reach out to valuable customers if they wanted to achieve their sales targets. The problem with this strategy was its scalability and traceability: while salespeople struggled with copying and pasting messages over and over on their own devices, the corporate teams felt in the dark about what they were saying, and the impact their efforts had on store performance. But the biggest challenge of all: understanding how this activity affected e-commerce. That’s where we came in.
At this point, Bonobos had rolled out 60 stores (technically “Guideshops”) and Warby Parker had reached over 90. The new retail establishment consisted of young DTC brands who saw the value of complementing digital with physical, but expected off-the-shelf affordable solutions that resembled the ones they were using online. So that’s what we built: a clienteling solution that any brand could role out with a few clicks. We launched it as one of the first apps for Shopify POS and ensured it was a good fit for brands whether you had one store or fifty.
Then came COVID
Almost exactly a year after we launched, the pandemic hit, and overnight two things dawned on all of commerce:
- No store (online or offline) is entitled to traffic
- Selling can happen digitally
As Covid forced people to adopt a remote lifestyle, Endear stood out as the perfect solution to address a problem that took hold seemingly overnight. All of a sudden, brands realized the immediate necessity to replicate their in-store experience online and allow the sales process to occur from the comfort and safety of everyone’s homes. These newly formed online retail teams got back to selling in a matter of days, and attended to an audience that had never received an online sales experience before.
What’s next: Consumer CRM for all
Since the pandemic, Endear has helped numerous brands like Alexis Bittar, gorjana, and Rebag make the most of their investment in salespeople. In fact, we’ve proven that by giving shoppers the opportunity to speak with a salesperson, online customers spend 19% more per order than their unassisted counterparts.
But we raised for a very specific reason: our clienteling solution had developed into a very powerful consumer CRM, and the need for our software had grown due to very recent developments:
- The price of online acquisition has skyrocketed
- Third-party cookies have gone away
- More ways to shop means a foggier picture of your customer
While customer relationship management platforms like Hubspot cater perfectly to the b2b space, they are a poor match for the needs of the consumer brands. Consumer brands are about frequency, not pipelines, and they have magnitudes more customers than b2b companies because their “contract values” could be as low as $10. Consider what you’d pay for Hubspot if you tried to store 1M customers in their database.
Endear solved an initial huge pain point in the omnichannel world by unifying data between a brand’s eCommerce platform and offline PoS. But it wasn’t just transactions that were disjointed. All the apps a brand uses to improve the customer experience, from marketing to loyalty to customer support, have rich insights about a customer’s activity, but only as it pertained to that specific touchpoint. In other words, brands today are collecting rich, 1st party data in multiple places, but are failing to consolidate what that data says about that customer as a whole.
By focusing just on the needs of the consumer space, we can go beyond ingesting data - we can predict with very high certainty how you want to use the data you’re feeding into Endear. While a customer data platform (CDP), will ask you to thoroughly define what type of data you’re importing and how to use it, Endear does the opposite. We already know the data types (such as tickets or loyalty points) you’re dealing with, you just need to tell us what app to pull those items from.
This foray into consumer CRM was the driving force behind our Seed round. Especially as the commerce software space continues to grow, our goal is to help brands not only understand their data, but also to more efficiently and readily use that data to extend customer lifetime value.
So whether you’re using Gorgias or Gladly or Zendesk, customer support conversations are no longer a resource for just your support team - marketing and sales now also have the right data from these sources to make informed decisions about their own activity.
And as always, we want to give brands this power in a matter of days, not weeks or months, and without asking them to spend money they don’t have on a tech team they shouldn’t need.
Thanks for listening!
Leigh & Jinesh