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December 18, 2023
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Top 9 VCs reveal AI’s future impact on e-commerce startups.

  • There has been a decrease in VC firm investments in e-commerce start-ups in 2023 due to the normalisation of growth rates and uncertainties related to inflation and employment.
  • Investment firms such as Insight Partners, PayPal Ventures, Speedinvest, Plug and Play, and others are expressing keen interest in e-commerce technologies that intersect with AI.

In 2023, despite the overall reduction in deals within the e-commerce sector, venture capitalists have expressed continued optimism for the industry’s future, particularly in areas where e-commerce aligns with AI technologies.

Alan Poensgen, a partner at Singapore-based investment firm, Antler, explained that while e-commerce was affected negatively due to pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions and an unpredictable macroeconomic environment, there remains substantial opportunity for direct-to-consumer brands and companies that are developing innovative technologies to enhance e-commerce operations. For instance, Poensgen highlighted AI-based product image or description creation, content integrations that bring buying experiences closer to consumers, and data platforms that refine inventory management.

George Damouny, a partner at Plug and Play Ventures, similarly expressed enthusiasm for the role of AI in transforming the e-commerce sector, citing the potential for AI to create new opportunities for start-ups and attract new investors. Damouny anticipates that AI will drive more innovation in the commerce space in the upcoming years.

James Loftus of PayPal Ventures disclosed that while 2023 was a “challenging” year for e-commerce startups, his firm made investments in companies that assist sellers in expanding into new markets and addressing operational issues. For 2024, PayPal Ventures is eyeing investments involving the intersection of e-commerce and AI, in addition to financial infrastructure and bank enablement platforms.

“AI-enabled solutions across the product lifecycle” will be a focus for Santa Monica-based M13. Anna Barber, a partner at the firm, stated that areas such as social commerce and AI continue to show significant growth potential.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Liu-Doyle of Insight Partners, highlighted that the firm is intrigued by the abilities generative AI delivers in terms of personalized shopping experiences and task automation in customer service.

On the whole, venture capitalists remain optimistic about the future of e-commerce. Although 2023 was a tough year for the sector, much excitement has been expressed about the potential of AI to disrupt the industry in the upcoming years.

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