A startup that uses artificial intelligence to help Amazon merchants boost their sales is joining with another local firm as it pushes to gain a foothold on Shopify and other e-commerce platforms.
Trellis – which uses algorithms to help Amazon merchants get more mileage out of their ad spending – said this week it has acquired Apixibot, a four-year-old company that specializes in software that tracks online shopping habits. Terms of the deal, which closed last Friday, were not disclosed.
Founded in 2019, Trellis taps into sales data from Amazon and other e-commerce platforms to figure out which customer search words are likely to generate the most clicks and sales.
Trellis co-founder Fahim Sheikh says Apixibot’s technology – which crunches metrics such as which sites customers are coming from, what they’re buying and how much time they spend on a merchant’s site – complements his firm’s offerings as it prepares to target the more than one million e-commerce stores powered by Shopify.
“One of the biggest challenges that Shopify merchants have had is they went and they created these great stores, but it’s really about driving traffic to the store,” he said. “That’s really where we come into the picture.”
Now at 19 employees following the acquisition, Trellis works with about 65 Amazon and Google Shopping merchants.
In an effort to boost sales, these merchants often pay for “sponsored” status to get their products to appear at the top of the page when customers search particular keywords online.
To earn a sponsored position, merchants bid on words and phrases that are most likely to drive traffic. Trellis helps customers figure out which words to choose, and its software calculates and submits bids based on those results.
Sheikh says his clients are already reaping the benefits, with the average return on their ad spending investments rising by 15-20 per cent after using the software. One customer, he adds, saw monthly sales on its Amazon store soar from $60,000 to more than $240,000.
But Sheikh says the additional market intelligence gained from Apixibot’s software will give his customers a clearer picture of shoppers’ spending habits, allowing them to more effectively target specific consumers and more easily identify cross-selling opportunities on other platforms.
“With that technology, we can now understand how consumers are interacting with that store,” he explains. “Really for us, the goal is to drive more conversions for our brand customers.”
"It just made sense. It was a perfect fit for us."
Apixibot co-founder Parm Gill says that while the company was originally launched to help professional services firms attract new clients, he and his colleagues soon realized there was a bigger opportunity in the rapidly growing e-commerce space.
His business partner, Dominic Plouffe, had worked with Trellis co-founder Krishna Vemulapali in the past. That shared connection triggered talks of a union between the two companies earlier this year.
“It just made sense,” says Gill, who will now take on the role of vice-president of global business development at Trellis while Plouffe becomes chief technology officer. “It was a perfect fit for us.”
Incubated out of the Invest Ottawa pre-accelerator program, Trellis has landed more than $1 million in seed funding from private angel and institutional investors in Canada, the United States, the Middle East and Asia.
The firm, which sells its software on a subscription basis, says its monthly recurring revenues have risen fivefold since the start of the year. The company is now pursuing a new round of funding to help it beef up its product development, sales and marketing teams.
Sheikh says Trellis needs to make inroads on other platforms such as Wayfair and Walmart if it wants to be a global industry leader.
In addition, he says the fledgling firm needs to step up its partnerships with aggregators – entities that acquire smaller brands on online marketplaces in a bid to scale them up – as it strives to stay ahead of the pack.
“We’re on a really good growth trajectory right now,” he says. “(The acquisition) is going to give us another dimension that really differentiates us from the competition.”