Amazon may have a market cap of over $ 1 trillion, but Finbarr Taylor, CEO of Y Combinator-supported startup Shogun, said the e-commerce giant was "a kind of dropping off."
In particular, he argued that the experience of shopping on Amazon – not what happens after you buy the product, but surfing the site itself – is pretty bad, full of sponsored results and fake products.
"What we're seeing is that all this big wave of direct-to-consumer brands is nibbling on the edges of Amazon and beating them at the buying experience," said Taylor.
Shogun was developed to support these brands. Taylor and his co-founder Nick Raushenbush developed the first product in 2015 and initially treated it as a side project. But Taylor said that by May 2017, "it devoured all of our free time and it was obviously much bigger than we expected", so they quit their jobs (Taylor worked as a software engineer at Y Combinator). and dedicated to him all day.
The company now has 11,000 customers, including MVMT, K-Swiss and Leesa. And today Shogun announces that it has raised a $ 10 million Series A led by Initialized Capital with the participation of VMG Partners and YC. (The startup has now raised a total of $ 12 million.)
The company's first product, Page Builder, offers a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy for e-commerce brands to build their storefronts on Shopify, BigCommerce, Salesforce, and Magento.
And there is a new product, Shogun Frontend, that allows brands to create a web-customized storefront that is fully customized and yet uses one of the major trading platforms as a backend.
Taylor accused this of being part of a broader trend towards headless commerce, in which the e-commerce front end and the back end are treated separately. He suggested that this is a "mutually beneficial" split, as Shopify and its competitors go "very deep" in building the infrastructure required to run a store online, while Shogun focuses on the customer’s actual experience, who visits this business.
In the meantime, website builders like Squarespace and Weebly (owned by Square) have introduced e-commerce features, but Taylor suggested that they are still not a "professional choice" for most e-commerce companies.
As one of the main features of Shogun Frontend, Taylor pointed out that progressive web apps are being created that should be as fast and smooth as a native app.
Brett Gibson, general partner at Initialized Capital and Shogun board member, made a similar point in a statement:
For DTC brands that compete against Goliaths like Amazon, Shogun Frontend now offers functions and capabilities that were once only reserved for companies. And when it comes to speed, shogun frontend loading time of less than a second is the key difference between being loyal or losing a customer.
Taylor added that the company "will continue to invest in Page Builder," but suggested that frontend was "more of a business offering" that could help Shogun's largest customers "make themselves future-proof."