It’s a busy time of year for ecommerce retailers — perhaps the busiest by the numbers. An estimated 165.8 million people shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday in 2018, and each purchased an average of 16 gifts during that time frame. Collectively, their haul came in billions of packages delivered through the mail system, over 900 million of which were tendered by the USPS alone.
So what’s a shopper stuck juggling multiple orders from multiple retailers to do? One solution is Route’s tracking platform, which offers solutions on both the merchant and consumer sides. The Silicon Slopes, Utah-based startup today announced the launch of a visual order tracking app — Route App — for iOS, alongside a package insurance coverage plan, coinciding with the closure of $12 million in seed funding.
“Historically, the post-purchase experience has lacked transparency for consumers and been a missed engagement opportunity for both merchants,” said CEO and founder Evan Walker, who cofounded Route in 2014. “Our goal … is to simplify. We’re making order tracking modern and visual and providing the ability to handle shipping issues with one click, all while creating a better post-purchase shopping experience for not just consumers, but for brands as well. Route extends this information to both retailers and consumers after purchases are made, an opportunity currently missed by many online brands. We’ve only just begun and couldn’t be more excited with where we as a company and product [are] headed.”
Route aggregates online purchases and compiles tracking info in one place. Customers of merchants who’ve chosen to partner with Route will see their orders routed automatically to the app’s dashboard, but even orders from third parties are synchronized with the customers’ Gmail accounts, thanks to Route’s AI-powered RouteBot tech.
The AI underlying RouteBot is trained on tens of thousands of online shopping sites, CTO Ryan Debenham told VentureBeat via email. “The information and tracking piece … are the easier part of the machine learning because they’re more recognizable patterns. Pulling out the specific product data is more challenging … and is something we’re still working on,” he said. “Our goal with this technology is to become the best tech there is to discover this information just from an email. As our AI learns, there’s massive potential to personalize the post-purchase experience for the customer.”
The Route app shows a map view of every order, accompanied by pop-up cards that display merchandise and its estimated time to arrival. Shipping updates are delivered via push notifications, while past orders collate in a shipping history tab.
As for the Route+, it’s an order insurance program that enables customers to file lost, damaged, or stolen package claims from within the Route app. It’s free for brands to offer if they so choose and leverages machine learning to predict risk and improve claim resolution (plus identifying order and tracking information). Route claims it protects over $350 million worth of consumer goods a year across 1.3 million customers.
Route says its run rate reached $8.85 million (up from $5.7 million at the end of October) and that it helped 1.3 million customers from 187 countries track packages. That growth has enabled it to expand its workforce to north of 100 employees, the bulk of whom occupy a new 30,000-square-foot headquarters that houses the company’s sales, engineering, customer, and client support teams.
The service is free to merchants, but it charges customers a 1% fee.
Route is chasing after a global track and trace solutions market that’s anticipated to be worth $4.6 billion by 2026, according to Zion Market Research. Indirect rivals include Parcel, Arrive, and Roambee, the latter of which has raised $10 million to date. But Route’s investors — who include Album VC and strategic partner Pattern — are betting there’s a niche still to be carved out.