While new headless commerce platforms are emerging all the time, Swell CEO Eric Ingram told me that it remains “really hard to do something new in e-commerce.”
Specifically, he told me that most headless platforms (which offer back-end infrastructure separate from the front-end shopping experience) allow businesses to build a faster shopping experience, but they're largely designed for marketplaces where you search, browse and purchase from a traditional product catalog.
“The most interesting ideas in e-commerce aren't just another catalog,” Ingram said.
Swell, which is announcing that it has raised $3.4 million in seed funding, was designed to offer more flexibility when it comes to the underlying business models. Ingram (who founded the company with Stefan Kende, Dave Loneragan, Joshua Voydik and Mark Regal) described it as the “future-proof backend” for e-commerce companies, which can grow and adapt with them as their business models evolve.
“Typical catalogs” have been built on the platform, he said, but it also supports Spinn‘s marketplace of independent coffee roasters, B2B vacuum pump marketplace Nowvac and ethical direct-to-consumer diamond retailer Great Heights.
In fact, Voydik described Swell as “infinitely flexible.” Among other things, the company says it achieves this flexibility by offering API access to every component, as well as native subscription support and an unlimited number of product attributes.
“Every store on Swell effectively has their own database SaaS platform,” Ingram added.
Overall, he said the platform offers the flexibility that you'd normally get from an open source approach without the technical headaches: “No one wants to maintain their own code base and their own database.”
He continued, “You don’t need to be technical, you don’t need to have developers to leverage this. A lot of our customers are developers, but a lot of them are just regular marketers and ops people who know a bit of development concepts and want to have control over the systems.”
The startup's new funding was led Jim Andelman of Bonfire Ventures, with participation from Willow Growth Partners, Andreas Klinger of Remote First Capital, Vercel CEO Guillermo Rauch, GitHub CTO Jason Warner and former Salesforce Commerce Cloud CTO Mike Micucci.