8 start-ups helping businesses turn to e-commerce

11 Jun 2020

Image: © Elena/Stock.adobe.com

We look at eight start-ups offering different solutions to support businesses as they make the pivot to e-commerce.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on most businesses in recent months, suddenly bringing high-street retail to a halt and slowing down parts of the global supply chain.

Many companies have been forced to adapt or rethink their strategies to survive, with one option for some being the pivot to e-commerce.

Here, we take a look at eight start-ups providing services to companies as they take their traditional businesses online, from tools for online merchants to logistics and robotics solutions.


Founded in 2009 by Ruslan Fazlyev, Ecwid offers online merchants a set of e-commerce tools, like competitors such as Shopify. During the coronavirus pandemic, Ecwid raised $42m to buy out early-stage investors and commit to an “aggressive” expansion plan.

The California-based start-up provides online selling solutions to small businesses, enabling them to set up a digital store in a matter of hours. Ecwid’s solutions are sold directly to businesses, as well as through third-party services such as Square and Wix.

What differentiates the company from its largest rival? Style Factory recently outlined the differences in a blogpost comparing Ecwid and Spotify.


E-commerce business Kooomo was launched in 2015 as a spin-out of Italian managed digital commerce agency Zerogrey. Now based in Dublin, with offices in the UK and Italy, Kooomo is led by CEO Ciaran Bollard.

The start-up aims simplify e-commerce for businesses, saving them from licensing multiple technologies in order to manage a single sale. Kooomo enables users to manage all sales channels (online store, B2B, marketplaces and in-store) through a single cloud platform.

Kooomo provides order processing software, warehouse management, content management and checkout solutions to businesses moving online. It also provides services such as management, digital marketing campaigns and SEO optimisation.

Locus Robotics

Locus Robotics is a Massachusetts business that builds autonomous mobile robots to support warehouse workers. The start-up’s technology provides a multi-bot fulfilment system that aims to allow collaborative, autonomous robots to work closely with human employees. Its goal is to improve warehouse productivity to support e-commerce.

Since Locus Robotics was founded in 2014, the company has raised more than $105m. Earlier this month, Locus announced that it raised $40m in Series D funding, saying it would help the company support businesses as they navigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

The start-up counts Boots UK, DHL, CEVA and Port Logistics Group among its customers.


Based in San Francisco, Portobel helps fresh food producers to offer direct-to-consumer deliveries. Co-founded by Ranjith Kumaran, Ted Everson and Itai Maron, the start-up turn pallets of wholesale goods into deliveries for consumers, managing its own warehouses and drivers.

Portobel offers a variety of services to wholesalers interested in e-commerce, including an online platform, a pick-and-pack team and software to ensure items are of suitable quality to be delivered. Its driver network has access to temperature-controlled trucks to ensure goods are properly stored during transit.

Kumaran told TechCrunch that demand for the start-up’s services has accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. The start-up is backed early-stage investment fund Heroic Ventures.


Scurri is a Wexford start-up that has developed a cloud-based solution to help optimise the online ordering, shipping and delivery process for retailers. It was founded by CEO Rory O’Connor in 2010.

Through Scurri, e-commerce merchants can select the most effective delivery option for each package and track it from dispatch to delivery. The start-up helps businesses ship their products anywhere in the world through its network of carrier integrations.

The Irish start-up has received backing from investors including Act Venture Capital, Episode 1 Ventures and Irish tech veteran Pa Nolan. Scurri has seen a strong uplift in sales in recent months as customers pivot their retail strategies, according to marketing head Sarah Murphy.


Launched in 2018, Thriftify is an Irish start-up that wants to give bricks-and-mortar charity shops the tools to take their businesses online.

The Dublin start-up was co-founded by Ronán Ó’Dálaigh, Timur Negru and Rahil Nazir. As well as offering charity shops e-commerce tools, it also provides reporting features, inventory management, integrated fulfilment and analytics and an intelligent pricing algorithm.

Each charity shop using the platform receives a laptop, barcode scanner and laser printer, which enables them to scan any donation in the shop with a barcode to sell online. While it started with products such as books, CDs, DVDs and games, Thriftify moved into clothing in recent months to help charity shops adapt during Covid-19.


Based in Dublin, TripAdmit provides an e-commerce solution for tour and activity providers. It has created a ticketing and online booking engine that can be used to sell tickets online, manage inventory and engage with clients.

It also provides an affiliate marketing programme with widgets, banners, products listings, links and search boxes that businesses can add to their websites.

Although the hospitality industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, TripAdmit recently raised €300,000 in seed funding, which it said will help expand its platform and support Irish tourism operators as they return to business.

Warehouse Exchange

Warehouse Exchange is a start-up that describes itself as “the Airbnb of warehouse space”. The start-up’s AI-led marketplace matches buyers and sellers in the logistics space with a focus on warehousing.

Warehouse Exchange saw the opportunity for short-term flexible warehouse space, especially as businesses move online during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company recently raised $2.2m in seed funding for its solution, which aims to help buyers of space scale capacity up and down when needed.

The Los Angeles business was co-founded in 2017 by warehousing veteran Jonathan Rosenthal and chief financial officer Dan Pimental. The company is now led by CEO Grant Langston, who was the former chief exec of dating platform eHarmony.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic