Convert Group, a startup based in Athens that offers a SaaS to help FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands understand how they are performing across e-commerce, has raised €1.2 million in seed funding.
The investment comes from Uni.fund, which is backed by the EquiFund investment platform (an initiative created by cooperation between the Hellenic Republic and EIF). It is the first time the otherwise bootstrapped company has taken external funding since being founded in 2014 and initially offering e-commerce consultancy.
The startup’s core product — dubbed “eRetail Audit” — is described as an online platform that provides e-commerce market share data for “sell-out” consumer products (in value, units and volume). It does this by partnering with various large e-commerce platforms and stores — in data-for-data deals — in order to then be able to serve up real-time aggregated data to its own FMCG brand clients.
Rather than compete with marketing insight giants Nielsen and IQVIA, it has signed strategic partnerships as another route to market, based on revenue sharing — which is pretty scrappy for an operation hailing from Greece.
“As strange as it may seem, e-commerce market share [data] for FMCGs in value, volume or units was virtually non-existent across the world,” Convert Group founder and CEO Panayotis Gezerlis tells me. “Companies like Nielsen, IRI, and IQVIA only had solutions for the traditional retail ecosystem and were not prepared for the meteoric speed FMCG online sales were increasing. We created a platform called eRetail Audit that connects to the online retailer in real-time, on a data-for-data free model, and we managed to grab online sales in extreme accuracy and detail, per SKU with basket level aggregation and marketing data”.
To that end, Convert Group claims to have grabbed the entire Greece market, one year since pivoting from consultancy to a SaaS model (a move Gezerlis attributes to Convert Group’s first employee, Elena Chailazopoulou, who is now deputy CEO and Product Innovation Director and holds equal shares in the startup).
Two years later, Convert Group expanded to Italy and Spain and has annual contracts that include 10 out of the 15 biggest FMCG manufacturers such as L’Oreal, P&G, Unilever, J&J, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestle, RB, GSK, Henkel, Bayer, Heineken, Barilla, Colgate Palmolive, Piere Fabre, Abbott and others. This has also seen the startup partner with “hundreds” of online retailers including dominant players Carrefour and Ahold Delhaize.
Meanwhile, in November 2019, the company launched “eRetail Content,” which lets brands design their “perfect digital shelf presence” for products sold online. The SaaS offers three layers to e-commerce businesses: e-commerce product content distribution from manufacturers to online retailers (photos, videos, ingredients, SEO optimised descriptions, characteristics, searchable terms & category suggestions); e-commerce content compliance & availability monitoring by manufacturers; and onsite and off-site tracking of e-commerce activations by manufacturers & online retailers such as newsletters, social media posts, onsite display banners and Google AdWords text ads.
And just last week, Convert Group announced its third product: a data marketplace for e-commerce, or as Gezerlis calls it, “the SimilarWeb of transactional e-commerce data”. It is initially targeting the consumer healthcare industry and key account data for online pharmacies, but will soon expand to more e-commerce verticals such as online grocery and online beauty products.