Fabric Gets New Funding, Aims To Free Retailers From Legacy eCommerce Platforms


Headless commerce. It’s still a somewhat obscure concept for many retailers, but one San Francisco venture capital firm is betting that it — along with startup Fabric — is the future for simpler, cheaper, customizable eCommerce platforms that will challenge the big legacy players.

Calling it “the next wave of eCommerce,” Norwest Venture Partners has led a $43 million funding for headless commerce provider Fabric, a Seattle-based startup that enables scalable, customizable digital commerce that is simple and inexpensive to deploy.

“eCommerce reached new heights in the past year and it’s not slowing down, but too many D2C and B2B brands don’t have the right technology to capture the opportunity,” said Scott Beechuk, partner at Norwest Venture Partners, in a statement. “With Fabric’s headless commerce platform, retailers can effortlessly extend the immersive in-store shopping experience to the digital world.”

“If Amazon is your strategy to sell, that is not a great strategy,” said Faisal Masud, CEO of Fabric, which is tucked in between Amazon and Microsoft on the shores of Lake Washington. And Masud should know, given that he not only worked at Google, Staples, eBay and Groupon, but also helped launch Amazon Basics, the so-called house brand for the world’s largest e-tailer.

“Amazon has a competitive product in Amazon Basics,” Masud said in a recent chat with PYMNTS. “But once your product is popular, Basics is going to compete with you if you’re a commoditized product. That’s the approach that we believe is the right one for brands. Otherwise, you’ll soon see Amazon’s revenue being very important to you, and over time, a lot more competition to deal with on that marketplace.”

Stifling Legacy Platforms

Masud’s — and Fabric’s — quest is simple: to offer merchants a way to break away from stifling, revenue-sharing, one-size-fits-all platforms and toward a cloud-based, modular offering that’s configurable and customizable.

“You’re able to pick and choose what parts of your experience you want to use us for,” he said, noting that his company’s “headless” approach separates the presentation layer of the website from the back end. “The presentation layer is where you show off your site. Like, come in, look at us, look at what we’re doing, look at our brand,” he explained. “Headless is where the head, aka the store, is separated from the back end, which is your catalog, your order management system, your price, promos and all the downstream systems.”

Masud said the headless approach gives brands much-needed flexibility, as well as the ability to control and differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded marketplace. “You may be an apparel company, but the platform was built for apparel, tools, hardware, sporting goods, electronics,” he noted. “To differentiate, you have to [create] your own experience.” One example of an all-Fabric website example is Juicy Couture, the iconic sweatsuit maker that is re-inventing itself and its selling practices.

“When was the last time you heard anybody say, ‘my re-platforming went really well?’ Never,” Masud asked. “To me, the worst thing any CIO or CTO could do is go through a re-platform.” But he maintains that it doesn’t have to be that way.

“We believe that with the advent of the cloud, this sort of re-platforming just doesn’t apply. It’s no longer relevant,” he said, noting the ability to componentize  PIM, CMS and order management rather than having everything on the premises. “If you buy these platforms, you’re buying a very feature-rich, architecturally poor platform, because you’re being forced to take all these features that you’ll never use.”

Leveraging this opportunity, coupled with the growth potential of brands taking more control of D2C selling in a red-hot eCommerce sector, Masud plans to use the capital injection to take Fabric’s headless model and method to market. “Our biggest plan is to staff up an actual sales team,” he said, noting that recruiting product management and engineers would be the next phase. “As a seed-stage startup, it’s hard to attract folks out of Google and Amazon if you’re not able to pay them at least somewhat close to what they’re expecting on a cash basis, since the top talent lives in the top companies.”