Miami — Here in the U.S., like in Latin America, it’s common for people to order groceries online and have them delivered to their home, and we saw an increase in this behavior as the pandemic hit and people were told to stay home. But the selection on the apps isn’t always reflective of what’s actually in store, which is why app shoppers have to swap out items or refund them entirely.
“The average supermarket in the U.S. has about 33,000 items, but the last mile delivery companies can only show a small fraction of that, which is why you don’t see everything online that you do in store,” said Luis Vera, co-founder and CEO of Zippedi, a company that provides RaaS (robots as a service) to retailers which then allows them to “digitize their store.”
The company announced today that it closed a $6.9 million Seed round led by Grep VC, a Silicon Valley RaaS investor, with participation from Gen 1 Capital, Alerce, CLIN Chilean Funds as well as family offices from Chile and Colombia. They currently have robots in more than 90 stores.
“Our robot goes up and down every aisle of a retail store and looks at every product. It can look at tens of thousands products every day. We optimize shopping in person by making sure everything is in stock and accurate, and we optimize online shopping by making sure that everything you order will be delivered with no omissions or substitutions,” he said in a statement.
Vera, who is from Chile but lives in California, has been trying to solve this problem for years with previous companies that he’s founded and has spent a lot of investor capital doing it, but the tech just wasn’t there yet.
He previously used static cameras in store, but he found that way too many cameras were needed and despite capturing images, it was too cumbersome to turn those images into data that could then be used.
“The robots have sensors and cameras, so they are basically capturing everything they see,” he told Bloomberg Línea.
Zippedi was founded in 2017 and launched its first robot in April of 2018. Despite now being based in the U.S., Vera chose Chile as its pilot location.
“We started the company in Chile because it’s the perfect test market because it has the entire ecosystem. We worked with Sodimac [a home improvement store] in Chile, and then came to the home improvement sector in the U.S. and have now moved on to grocery,” he said.
Today the company counts America’s largest home improvement company as it’s client (the company requested not to be identified). Before going to the store, a person can search online for the product and the service will even tell you which aisle it’s in. This particular store is notoriously hard to shop at because it’s huge and items can sometimes be oddly categorized.
Zippedi is based in California and has 70 full-time employees in both Chile and the U.S. The company declined to give specifics about it’s MoM revenues or its pricing, though Vera did say that Zippedi uses a subscription model plus a set up fee. The company plans to use the money from this round to expand robot manufacturing capabilities and increase adoption in the U.S.