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December 18, 2023
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Top VCs seek AI innovation for e-commerce investment in 2024.

Key Points:

  • Despite a challenging 2023 for startups more generally, venture capital firms (VCs) remain optimistic about the future of the e-commerce sector, highly driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Nine major VC firms provided their insights and investment strategies for e-commerce, underscoring expectations for a significant intersection with AI applications in the near future.

The e-commerce sector experienced a relatively tough 2023, with venture funding proving harder to secure. Despite this, major VC firms investing in the sector have maintained an optimistic outlook, with a particular focus on technology companies that streamline the process of selling products online. Many VCs have also expressed a keen interest in the nexus of e-commerce and AI, highlighting where their investment dollars may be heading in the near future.

Antler, a firm based in Singapore, believes that opportunities still exist for direct-to-consumer brands and for companies creating new technologies to help e-commerce businesses run more efficiently. These include AI-based product descriptions and images, content integrations that move products and buying experiences closer to consumers, and data platforms that enhance inventory management.

Plug and Play Ventures, an investment firm based in Sunnyvale, California, confirmed that e-commerce deals fell significantly in 2023 but stated its excitement about leveraging AI, predicting that it would create new opportunities for commerce startups.

PayPal Ventures, the corporate venture arm of PayPal, reported fewer investments in e-commerce startups in 2023, but remained bullish on AI’s potential in e-commerce, looking to invest in fintech and commerce ecosystems globally.

Speedinvest, a VC firm based in Vienna, Austria, underlined the importance of strong network effects and was particularly optimistic about AI’s potential impact on personalized shopping, advanced search and discovery, dynamic pricing optimization, supply chain management, and visual search and AR integration.

M13, a VC firm from Santa Monica, California, is eager about the future growth potential of social commerce and AI. The firm sees infrastructure opportunities and large B2B purchasing markets that are still underserved with technology solutions as promising areas.

Insight Partners, a New York-based investment firm, looks for businesses with some semblance of “software-led moat” and repeat customer behavior, expressing excitement about AI’s potential in personalized shopping experiences and backend automation tasks.

Vinyl Capital, a Boston-based firm, identified potential in transforming commerce across all surfaces and is keen on investing in generative AI and data sovereignty.

Lastly, Activant Capital sees potential in startups that reduce friction in B2B commerce and those using data and AI to improve decision-making across the commerce value chain, from the buyer to the seller.

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