Constructor finds $55M for tech that powers search and discovery for

One of the biggest problems in the e-commerce world is shopping cart abandonment: when shoppers can’t find what they want fast enough – whether it’s finding the right item, or quick and easy ways to get it. Paying from – they jump. That singular problem is driving a wave of technology developments to make the experience more intuitive, and today one of the companies involved in that space is announcing some of the money behind Healthy Growth.

Constructor, which built the technology powering search and product discovery tools for e-commerce businesses, has raised $55 million in a Series A round of funding. The constructor says it powers “billions” of queries each month, a 233% increase in revenue over the past year. The customers it works with include big names like Sephora, Walmart’s Bonobos, Backcountry, and many more.

The round is led by Silversmith Capital Partners — who, incidentally, just today, led another round for Xenos, an e-commerce startup.

It joins a long list of notable individual investors. These include David Fraga, the former president of InVision; Kevin Weil, former head of product at Twitter and Instagram; Jason Finger, founder of Seamless; Carl Sparks, former CEO of Travelocity; Robin Peterson, CTO at CNN; Dave Heath, founder of Bombus; Ryan Barreto, president of Sprout Social; Melody Hildebrandt, EVP Engineering and CISO at Fox; Xander Raphael, co-founder of Better.com; and Seth Shaw, CRO at Airtable. Cap Table Coalition – a firm that helps under-represented background investors with back-up and up-and-coming startups – was also involved. With this round, Fraga is joining the board of constructors.

The past year and a half has been a bumper one for the e-commerce world – with more traffic, transactions and retailers going online, in the wake of social distancing measures affecting in-person physical shopping. But it has exposed a lot of cracks in how e-commerce works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be).

One of the more passive areas is search and find. As most of us have learned outright, when we search for things in the search window of an online store, it almost always happens that the results are not what we want.

When we browse in physical stores because we’re not sure what we want, often we aren’t prompted with pictures of things we actually like to buy. They can be there – we usually visit sites because we either already know them, or have seen something we like elsewhere – but still, finding what we really want to buy. This can take a long time, and in many cases it may never happen at all.

One problem, says Ellie Finkelshtein, CEO and founder of Constructor, is that search and discovery are often built as static experiences: They are designed to meet a one-size-fits-all model where site architects Has effectively guessed what a buyer might be, and was made for. This is one area the builder has reconsidered, especially by making search and discovery more dynamic and responsive to what’s happened before you visited a site.

“One of the things that went wrong with product search was that sites show you what they think is valuable to you,” he said. “We think the process should be descriptive.”

For example, he talked about Cheetos. Sometimes people who want to buy these start by navigating to the potato chip category. In many static searches, those results may not include Cheetos. Some people may skip their quest altogether (Bounce), but some may walk away from it and search exclusively for Cheetos and add them to their cart. In a descriptive and more dynamic environment, Finkelshtein believes that these two flows should inform all future chip discoveries later.

“We take into account as much data as we can learn, and that list is ever-growing,” he said. “The goal is anything we can learn from should be part of the user experience.”

Google is the current, undisputed leader in the world of search, and uses a lot of dynamic, AI-based tools to learn and transform how it searches and what results it produces.

Interestingly, it hasn’t extended it to third parties as much as you might think. The company discontinued its own site search product in 1997 and now if you find it you are redirected to the company’s enterprise search suite.

However there are some who have stepped into that void to provide services that compete with Constructor, including Algolia, Yext, Elasticsearch and more. Finkelshtein believes that none of these have yet managed to provide a service like Constructor that constantly learns and adjusts its results based on search and browsing activity.

This is one reason the company has stood by its customers and investors.

“Constructor has created a search and discovery platform that is truly making a difference for enterprise retailers. They are providing customers with comprehensive and customized search and discovery that is unmatched in the market,” said Mr. Rao, Board of Constructor “We are excited to partner with the Constructor team as they continue to revolutionize search and discovery capabilities for retailers across all platforms,” the member and general partner of Silversmith Capital Partners said in a statement.

Looking ahead, there will be some interesting opportunities ahead for constructors to take their search and discovery tools to new frontiers. These could include ways to bring in and account for buyers on third-party platforms – Constructor doesn’t currently power experiences on social media, so this is a potential area – as well as more offline experiences, as retailers. Significant and shoppers in the U.S. take a more mixed approach that may start online and end in stores, or move the other way around, or find users walking around to shop with their phones, even if They should be in physical stores.

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