Mercato, an online ordering and delivery platform for independent grocery stores, recently closed a funding round led by Greycroft, a venture capital firm focused on investments in the internet and mobile markets, among others.
The new funding will enable San Diego-based Mercato to expand into new markets coast to coast and continue development of technology and services that enable independent grocers to compete online, the company says. It currently offers e-commerce and same-day delivery of groceries and specialty foods from more than 750 independently owned stores.
In the U.S., the percentage of consumers who purchased groceries online this last year surged from about 23.1 percent to 36.8 percent, according to Coresight Research. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, the 2019 percentage equates to about 93 million online grocery purchasers—a gain of nearly 35 million from last year. According to eMarketer’s “Grocery E-commerce 2019” report, U.S. grocery e-commerce is estimated to be at $19.89 billion in 2019 to rank as the fastest-growing product category online.
“My family is in the grocery business and I grew up working in our family store. This experience highlighted to me the real disadvantage independents have when it comes to technology, innovation and marketing. We want to level the playing field and allow these great local businesses to win against their competition, whoever it is,” said Bobby Brannigan, tech entrepreneur and Mercato founder and CEO. “Mercato is the only platform that allows consumers to discover the best local grocers and specialty food retailers in their area. Besides all of the traditional pantry staples and packaged foods, customers get access to the freshest produce, fish, meat, ethnic and prepared foods and can have them delivered to their home or business in about an hour.”
Mercato enables merchants to throttle orders, define delivery lead times, communicate directly with their customers and add items and change prices in real time on the Mercato storefront. Mercato also allows merchants to access product and pricing analytics to determine trends and manage inventory. Mercato handles the deliveries through its nationwide courier network and can often deliver up to 15 miles or more.
“Mercato has been successful based on two important factors: its technology and its unique ability to serve the needs of independent grocers,” said Ian Sigalow, co-founder of Greycroft. “We believe in the company’s disciplined vision, strong management and vast market potential and look forward to working with them as the team continues to expand into new markets across the country.”