Sometimes illness can have a happy ending. It’s certainly a story that resonates right now and Fast CEO Domm Holland is happy to tell it. It started a few years ago when Holland’s son was briefly hospitalized and his wife’s grandmother was visiting to help the family. One of the grandmother’s chores on a particular day was ordering groceries online. What should have been a simple transaction became complicated when she couldn’t remember her password or reset it.
The idea for Fast was born in that one frustrating experience.
“Fast forward to today,” Holland said. “There’s over a billion people [sheltering] in place in their house and primarily they’re ordering groceries online, I mean they’re ordering virtually everything online. It’s just ironic sort of timing that the problem we were trying to solve that day has been concentrated. So COVID is really sort of homing in on our absolute skillset and so it’s a really fascinating event versus a horrible tragic time.”
Fast was co-founded by Holland and COO Allison Barr Allen. Holland has founded and led multiple companies in Australia while Allen previously led global product operations for Uber’s Money Team. The company they founded has two products: Fast Login and Fast Checkout. Both facilitate a one-click sign-in and purchasing experience through any browser, device or platform.
Fast Login was its entry into the eCommerce market. Fast Checkout will launch in the coming months. Holland is capitalizing on the shopping cart abandonment rate of up to 80 percent of potential purchases, largely due to friction during checkout such as the one that could not be completed by his in-law. He says he is trying solve for the fact that consumers are forced to fill out an average of 23 fields just to make a single online purchase. Fast Login and Checkout means that those fields are filled out just once, eliminating passwords and login info for future purchases.
Holland says the past few months have been full of retailers trying to recover lost ground in the eCommerce logistics race.
“Smaller, independent and local businesses are rightly fearing for their livelihood,” he said. “Nobody wants a future where retail is dominated by a few major players because they had the tools and resources to capitalize on a crisis. Businesses who embrace digital and focus on the customer experience online will be in a better position to rebound and thrive when we come out on the other side of COVID-19 and its immediate impact. The key is to meet customers where they are by understanding their pain points, anxieties and new ways of thinking, and be willing to be creative and flexible in the process.”
As those retail meetings ramp up to the introduction of Fast Checkout, Holland and his team have taken on an interesting role: researchers and content producers. For example its most recent retail-related project shows that 88 percent of Americans are now wearing face masks, and 58 percent will wear them while shopping in stores. Why research and content?
“We’ve had such incredible engagement from businesses lately,” Holland said. “We’ve had some of the big enterprise retailers come to us as well as some huge technology companies. It’s been absolutely amazing. And they want to know how they’re going to come out of this situation stronger. If you’re a large enterprise, any non-core project that isn’t going to be a needle mover for you is now permanently or indefinitely postponed. We help move the needle. So, ironically, [this is] a really great time to engage businesses who are concentrating, more than ever, on how they improve on experience or establish an online eCommerce experience.”
Unlike companies that are seeing eCommerce-related spikes as a result of the pandemic, Fast is starting out. Holland believes his company is off to a good start and that eCommerce is in for a substantive restart.
“It’s going to be built into our brains, where you’re going to be wired slightly differently, forever,” he said. “And I’m from Australia, and I think the worst thing for Australia is that we have a ‘we’ll be alright’ attitude. We didn’t think anything like this could happen to us. The biggest thing that COVID has done is shocked all of us. It’s so surreal still to see everyone walking down the street with masks on. And to think that, you know, two months ago that would have been the strangest thing. Now it’s completely normal. I think eCommerce will be the same. Completely built in to every day.”
In preparation for the checkout launch Fast recently raised a $20 million Series A funding round led by Stripe. The investment will accelerate the global rollout of Fast Checkout, and grow its product and engineering teams.
“Velocity is kind of humbling,” Holland said. “We’re selling an enterprise solution to enterprise companies. To an extent it doesn’t matter how good your tech is. Big business just can’t do business with people that haven’t got a balance sheet to back it up, it’s just too much risk. So raising decent amounts of money helps us sell in the enterprise because we have a balance sheet to support the type of business that we that we want to do.”