Fabric raises $110 million Series B to expand its network of automated fulfillment centers in the U.S.

Fabric, the startup that wants to make automated logistics available to retailers of all sizes, announced today it has raised $110 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Corner Ventures, with participation from Aleph, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Innovation Endeavors, La Maison, Playground Ventures and Temasek.

This brings the total funding raised so far by Fabric (formerly called CommonSense Robotics) to $136 million. Its last round was a $20 million Series A announced in February 2018. Fabric also said today that it is launching a platform model that will allow its clients to build micro-fulfillment centers on their own property that use the startup’s AI and robotics-based technology.

Fabric was founded in Tel Aviv in 2015 and is now headquartered in New York. Its Series B will be used for its U.S. expansion, where it currently has 14 sites under contract, including three micro-fulfillment centers that are currently being built in New York City. One of those is scheduled to open by the first quarter of next year and will be available to retailers who want to make on-demand fulfillment, including one-hour deliveries, available to their customers.

Last October, Fabric opened its first micro-fulfillment center in Tel Aviv, giving an inside look into how the company’s system works. Robots move around the warehouse, picking up inventory so human workers can stay at a scanning station. Fabric says the 6,000 square feet station now processes up to 600 orders a day, including one-hour deliveries.

Steve Hornyak, chief commercial officer at Fabric, told TechCrunch that it plans to expand its platform model into at least one other U.S. city next year and currently has deals with several U.S. retailers that will be announced in the coming months.

Fabric’s logistics platform can be used by retailers of any size, but “for SMBs, our service model is particularly revolutionary as it has been built to allow for multiple tenants leveraging the same platform. It enables retailers that don’t have the resources or infrastructure to build an entirely new fulfillment operation themselves to access a world-class logistics solution that enables profitable on-demand fulfillment,” he said.

Of course, retailers and logistics providers in the U.S. have to deal with the specter of Amazon, which Hornyak said Fabric views “as the force that’s fundamentally driving the market, transforming retail as we know it at a dizzying pace and pushing all other players to adapt in a rapidly evolving space.”

“When Amazon announces it’s providing free same-day deliveries of $1 items, that becomes the consumer expectation—and the faster the delivery, the more complicated and expensive it is,” he added. “Our aim is to enable all other retailers to stay relevant and competitive in this world that Amazon has created, providing the operational, strategic and financial infrastructure they need to meet consumer expectations profitably, sustainably, and at scale in an on-demand world.”

As part of its expansion plans, Fabric plans to grow its commercial, operations and tech support teams in the U.S., as well as its engineering team in Tel Aviv.

In a press statement, Corner Ventures managing partner John Cadeddu said “Fabric is the micro-fulfillment market leader with a production-proven platform that drives tremendous value for its retail partners and consumers alike. We are delighted to be partnering with the Fabric team in their incredible vision to reinvent how goods are fulfilled and delivered in this on-demand world, ultimately empowering retailers to provide faster deliveries at lower costs and at scale.”

CommonSense Robotics’ first automated fulfillment center is now live

Israeli startup CommonSense Robotics is launching its first automated micro-fulfillment center in Tel Aviv. It’s a tiny 6,000 square feet warehouse that is packed from ground to ceiling with products. Robots do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting items ready to dispatch.

TechCrunch shot a video of CommonSense Robotics’ test fulfillment center. Today’s new warehouse is much bigger than that, but still much smaller than an Amazon warehouse. The company’s first client is Superpharm, Isarel’s largest drug store chain.

The startup wants to convince grocery retailers in urban areas that they can deliver orders in less than an hour. Currently, grocery retailers either leverage their stores (which is a waste of time) or have a giant warehouse outside of the big city.

With CommonSense Robotics, you could imagine a city with multiple micro-fulfillment centers so that you’re never too far. When you order something, robots instantly navigate around the warehouse and the shelves to pick up your stuff. A central server coordinates all the robots in real time to optimize the routes. This way, humans can stay at a scanning station and put together an order without having to move.

CommonSense Robotics remains in charge of the fulfillment centers. E-commerce retailers pay the startup to create and manage those fulfillment centers. This way, you can focus on your product inventory and last mile deliveries.

The company already signed a deal with Israeli grocery retailer Rami Levy for 12 centers. And CommonSense also plans to launch multiple sites in the U.S. in 2019.