The online grocer will invest further in robotics and is exploring additional distribution centers.

Boxed Wholesale raised $111 million in a new financing round, bringing its funding to date to nearly $250 million. Aeon Co. Ltd., a Japanese supermarket retailer, led the funding round.

The announcement comes roughly five months after the privately-held online grocer rejected a reported $400 million purchase offer from Kroger Co.

Boxed sells groceries and household staples to consumers and businesses, and its annual sales exceed $100 million. Boxed is No. 345 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, with sales growing an estimated 40% last year. About 75% of its sales come from consumers and 25% from businesses, Neel Madhvani, head of sales for Boxed, told Digital Commerce 360 earlier this year.

Sales of groceries and household goods growing quickly online—and they are drawing competitors from across all aspects of retailing. Online’s share of food and household goods sold in the U.S. last year was 1.9%, according to a Kantar Media analysis. It is projected to reach 2.8% this year and 5.4% by 2021. Supermarket operators and others have made significant investments in developing online grocery sales in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc. last year, including Walmart Inc. (No. 3 in the Top 1000), Kroger (No. 86) and Target Corp. (No. 17). Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 1000.

Boxed CEO Chieh Huang says the new funding will help the company increase brand awareness and expand its footprint, including its distribution network. The 5-year-old e-retailer is currently scouting for a facility in the Chicago area. It already operates warehouses in New Jersey, Texas, Nevada and Georgia.

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Boxed’s fulfillment centers use robotics developed by Boxed to help automate fulfillment and get orders out the door efficiently. “The autonomous vehicles our robotics team has created will help support our rapid growth, enabling us to meet customer demand through increased efficiency, and put us at the forefront of fulfillment center technology,” Huang said in a statement announcing the new funding.

Evidence of the e-retailer’s fulfillment prowess showed up in a recent test conducted by Internet Retailer’s research department. The test evaluated 25 online retailers across five product categories for their fulfillment and delivery speed. At 4.8 hours, Boxed was the second-fastest retailer to notify our tester that her order had shipped. It also was the top-rated company in an analysis of packaging efficiency, which measured the shipping carton used for the order relative to its contents. A preview of Internet Retailer’s findings from the “2018 Click, Ship & Return” report, which will be released in September 2018, is below.

 

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