Convelio, which automates shipping processes for luxury goods, raises $35 million


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The pandemic has thrown – and continues to put – supply chains in a state of chaos. According to According to a 2021 Statista survey, 50% of shippers said they struggled to cut transportation costs, a challenge that will only grow as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacts global fuel prices. Other barriers to success in logistics and shipping include fluctuating customer demand, inventory management, finding talent, and keeping pace with technology, as well as sourcing, manufacturing, analytics, and data management. Last year, Deloitte found it that more than 40% of companies saw their costs increase by 5% or more due to ongoing supply chain problems.

All types of goods have been affected by the current logistical blockades, including fine art, jewelry and antiques. Seeking a technical solution to the woes, four years ago, entrepreneurs Clément Ouizille and Edouard Gouin launched Convelio, a company that uses algorithms to offer high-end sellers instant shipping quotes. Supported by the pandemic-tinged state of the market, convelio recently closed a $35 million investment round, bringing total capital raised to $45 million, the company announced this morning.

Automate shipping

The idea of ​​applying automation to shipping is not new. Loadsmart, Flock Freight and their rivals use AI to match shippers with truck transport, while companies like Cargo. One finds airways for cargo algorithmically. But Convelio focuses, uniquely, on luxury items, which can be more expensive to ship the traditional way due to the delicacy of the products being packaged.

Ouizille came up with the idea for Convelio with Gouin while working as a logistics leader at Pamono, an antiques shop in Berlin. Gouin is a serial angel investor, having supported the likes of Pando startup Pando and no-code payment framework provider Primer.

“My co-founder, Clément Ouizille, and I began our career with Rocket Internet COO Adrian Frenzel, now Gorillas Global COO. During our time working for Rocket’s portfolio companies, we developed a keen understanding of startup activities and continued to build e-commerce businesses in the visual arts space out of personal interest,” Gouin told VentureBeat via email. “We quickly learned that, unlike more classic e-commerce spaces, visual arts lacked a key element for a successful online transition: efficient and integrated shipping.”

Delivering to more than 80 destinations, Convelio takes parameters such as fragility, size and value into account to create a logistics chain for works of art and other luxury products, such as sculptures and furniture. For clients such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and 3,000 other auction houses, galleries and collectors, Convelio automates customs, insurance, real-time tracking and delivery processes.

Pieces shipped by Paris-based Convelio typically range in value from €5,000 ($5,565) to €1 million ($1.11 million), according to Ouizille.

“We have internally developed an instant pricing algorithm that instantly assesses multiple data points across the logistics chain,” explains Gouin. “Convelio’s technology not only enables platforms to improve the customer experience on their website by implementing our API or widget, but can also be used to automate internal workflows such as shipment retrieval, billing and invoicing, or inventory management. … on our core technologies … means it can streamline its processes and support both buyers and sellers with after-sales administration.”

In addition to automating quotes and workflows, Convelio helps manage documents and customize various shipping services. The network includes 19 ‘crate centres’, says Ouizille, which are responsible for ensuring that goods are not damaged during transport.

Significant growth

The luxury goods market has taken a hit during the pandemic, with the world’s top 100 luxury goods companies generating $252 billion in revenue in 2020, compared to $281 billion in 2019. According to More than 80% of companies in the top 100 reported lower sales in 2020, according to Deloitte, due to pandemic-related store closures, travel bans, shifts in consumer demand, supply chain disruptions and other factors.

But in what can only be seen as good news for 200-employee Convelio, there are signs of recovery. A Bain & Company report notes that luxury goods in general were the first to recover to their 2019 levels in 2021, driven by the easing of pandemic restrictions and lockdown-inspired home upgrades and mixed living and working spaces.

Convelio employees pose for a photo.

Coinciding with the upswing, venture capital (VC) firms are pouring money into the wider logistics space of shipping as potential solutions for supply chain efficiency gain in importance. According to Pitchbook, in 2020 in North America and Europe alone, VCs have pledged $12.6 billion for supply chain technology startups through more than 500 deals. Research into Grand View predicts that the global transportation management systems market will be worth $27.48 billion by 2028.

Convelio claims it was responsible for 14,000 shipments worth a total of $265 million last year. The company’s annual revenue increased 2.5 times while the workforce grew to 200 people.

Convelio says it plans to explore other market segments where “[its] expertise in shipping bulky, valuable and fragile items” can be leveraged.

“Since launching in 2017, we have registered an average annual sales growth of 98% and in 2021 alone, sales grew 2.5 times,” said Gouin. “The vast majority of revenue in the visual arts shipping market, a $4 billion opportunity, is with traditional, low-tech incumbents and this is what we look for first. Our competitive advantage is always building of the best experience for our customers by leveraging technology. We have more than an edge, so we keep our cool, keep working on more and faster shipping to deliver the ultimate fine art shipping experience.”

Forestay and Mundi Ventures jointly led the latest round of Convelio, with the participation of Acton Capital and Global Founders Capital.

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