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Teardown | Ankorstore
In under 3 years Ankorstore has achieved a $2B valuation building a B2B marketplace in Europe
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Founded in 2019, Paris-headquartered Ankorstore is a wholesale marketplace that connects independent and local brands directly with retailers, thus removing the need for middlemen like agents and trade shows. The platform claims to be an alternative to Amazon and sells various stock that is not available on major e-commerce sites in a bid to support local businesses.
Within 2 years of launch, Ankorstore was valued at $2B in January 2022 after raising $283M in a Series C funding round led by Tiger Global and BOND. The company reported that these funds will be used for their geographic expansion plan, starting with Italy and Spain.
The company serves over 200,000 independent retailers and 15,000 brands across 23 countries in Europe. The platform offers over 1M unique products to its consumers and is backed by marquee investors including Index Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, GFC, Alven, and Aglae.
Business Overview & Products
Ankorstore aims to power independent commerce by providing retailers direct access to unique brands while taking care of their shipping and payment needs. It offers 1M unique products in the following categories: home & living, grocery, kids, beauty, and fashion. In 2022, the company introduced 2 new categories, sports & wellbeing and pets to their current offerings.
The startup operates across 23 countries in Europe and has offices in Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Stockholm. It plans on opening offices in Italy and Spain in 2022.
How It Works
Ankorstore, a wholesale marketplace, connects brands and creators with registered retailers and shops. The company aims to promote local businesses and sell products that e-commerce giants like Amazon do not offer.
Brands can create an account on the platform and upload their product catalogs. The registration form focuses on information like lead time, annual sales, brand and product description, along with links to social media accounts. After careful analysis, the marketplace then decides which brand to accept within 48 hours and through this process ensures that only new or local businesses are welcomed onboard.
Once a brand is selected, it then proceeds to publish its product catalog on the platform, which includes high-quality photos and videos of its offerings along with clear and concise descriptions. It is also important to translate this description into different European languages so that it appeals to the international market as well.
Brands can then connect with retailers from over 150,000 boutiques that too in their own language. Retailers benefit from a low minimum order quantity, which amounts to €100 ($108) per brand and also allows them to test products first before buying them in large quantities. Brands are paid upon delivery by Ankorstore, while retailers can pay up to 60 days after placing an order.
The platform refunds brands all their shipping costs and provides retailers free shipping for orders worth at least €300 ($325). This is specifically great for brands as their margins increase by 8% on average, resulting in greater profits. Brands have 2 shipping options; they can either take advantage of the company’s partnership with UPS and choose the ‘Ship via Ankorstore - FREE’ option, or they can use their preferred carrier and get reimbursed for the costs they incur. The delivery time is within 48 hours but in case of delay, it never exceeds more than 10 days.
Business Model & Pricing
Ankorstore has a B2B2C business model, where it connects retailers to independent sellers but does not own any inventory or warehouses. Instead, it only facilitates transactions between the 2 parties without any capital investment.
The company earns revenue by charging brands a commission that differs from order to order. For instance, on every first order with a new retailer, the brand is charged a commission of 20%. Whereas, in the case of reorders from the same retailer, the charged commission is 10%. This commission includes the guarantee of payment on delivery, payment facilities for the reseller, and total or partial reimbursement of shipping costs by Ankorstore. The platform does not charge any additional fees.
Upfront payments to brands are a certain percentage of the total order and are not paid with the company’s working capital, instead, they are arranged through a 3rd party. The company’s mission is to empower and support independent brands and retailers. For this purpose, Ankorstore offers free shipping to brands so that they don’t incur any loss on smaller orders. Moreover, financially sound retailers are also allowed to pay up to 60 days after ordering something from the platform.
Ankorstore claims to be the fastest-growing B2B marketplace and category leader in Europe. As of 2022, Ankorstore has 200,000 retailers and 15,000 brands onboard. This is a sharp increase from their previous figures in 2021, where the company had 50,000 retailers and 5,000 brands using the platform. Ankorstore has a team of 400 employees working in over 40 languages. The platform offers 1M unique products and prides itself on forming 2.5M connections between brands and retailers.
In 2021, more than 11,000 brands registered on the platform, increasing its sales volume by 950%. Certain categories on the platform are performing exceptionally well, which include non-perishable groceries, beauty products, and home items. During the same year, Ankorstore launched in the UK and witnessed a 3x hike in sales following the government’s orders to reopen stores.
According to co-founder Nicolas Cohen, the majority of the company’s revenue is generated from international markets, not its home market France. He also listed the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden as the startup’s growth markets.
Nicolas Cohen – Co-CEO and Co-Founder at Ankorstore. Nicolas, a Masters graduate, has previously served as an Investor at Electra, I MAKE, Wecasa.fr, and Gorgias.
Mathieu Alengrin – Principal Engineer and Co-Founder at Ankorstore. Mathieu previously worked as Head of Engineering at Vestiaire Collective and as Lead Developer at Adael Wireless.
Nicolas d’Audiffret – Co-Founder at Ankorstore. Nicolas, an IIM graduate, co-founded A Little Market and also served as an Investor and Board Member at Back Market.
Pierre Louis Lacoste – Co-Founder at Ankorstore. Pierre worked at Etsy as their Country Manager and at Lole as their Vice President. He also served as Director of Operation at Jean-Vier.
History & Evolution
In 2012, the founders of Ankorstore launched ALittleMarket, a B2B marketplace for handcrafted goods in France. However, the company was soon acquired by Etsy. It was while working at Etsy, that the founders discussed the challenges that were faced by merchants when it came to selling their products to other businesses. These specifically involved small and local brands that wished to expand their B2B storefronts to large B2B wholesale businesses. And that is how Ankorstore was launched in 2019, with an aim to help small brands grow and reach global markets.
Since the founders had previously made the mistake of not expanding to other countries with their first company, this time around, they went international from day one by launching local offices in 5 countries at the same time.
While people were skeptical about Ankorstore launching in multiple countries during the pandemic, this decision proved to be fruitful for the company. For starters, since people were already used to working remotely, it made the whole process of hiring team members in different countries easier. This is majorly why the company was able to onboard 100 people, all of whom were located outside of France, that too in the first half of 2021 alone. Moreover, due to the pandemic, non-essential shops were being closed down, hence independent stores had to change their offerings accordingly so they could survive the lockdown. During this difficult time, Ankorstore stood by its retailers and helped them control their cash flow, manage their stock precisely, and be more responsive. This is why despite half of the company’s retailers closing down during lockdown, Ankorstore still managed to triple its activity across Europe during the first 4 months of 2021.
In 2020, the company launched Lift Days, a digital trade fair for retailers and brands where they could sell, buy, exchange ideas, and network without restrictions. The first edition was a huge hit. It witnessed participation from 10,000 stores and 600 brands, out of which each of them gained an average of 5 new customers and a sale occurred every 40 seconds. This success led to the company arranging this event bi-annually. In 2021, Ankorstore announced the 4th edition of Lift Days offering discounts from a minimum of 10% up to 60% on all products.
This year the company became France’s 2nd unicorn of 2022 after raising $283M in a Series C funding round. Ankorstore’s future plans include introducing new categories like fresh food, adding more products to their 1M unique offerings, and working relentlessly on their tech developments so they can offer more features to users.
The idea behind Ankorstore’s name came from an “anchor store”, a dominant retail store that drives business to smaller retailers, usually in a shopping mall or strip mall setting. The company wants to empower independent retailers to become local anchor stores in their communities that offer the right product, offer, and experience.
Ankorstore’s direct competitor is Faire, a US-based online wholesale marketplace that commenced its European expansion in 2021.
Even though the company is headquartered in Paris, it still considers English as its official business language since the beginning.
In 2021, Meritt Hummer, a partner at Bain Capital Ventures joined Ankorstore’s board of directors. This move came after the venture led a Series B funding round for the company.
The B2B e-commerce market in Europe is expected to grow over $1.8T by 2025.
Ecommerce sales in Europe were estimated at €621B ($673B) in 2019 and grew to €757B ($821B) in 2020. The majority of the online turnover is generated in Western Europe which makes up for almost 70% of total European online retail turnover.
According to data collected in 2014, clothing and footwear are the most popular product categories in the UK, Germany, France, the Benelux, the Nordics, Spain, Italy, and Poland.
Revenue in the e-commerce market is estimated to reach $828.30B in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.84%, amounting to a market volume of $1,222B by 2025.
Suggested starting points to dive deeper
Pierre-Louis Lacoste, co-founder of Ankorstore: “We want to reinvent the way wholesale is done” (Fashion United, September ‘21)