The recent round of funding was led by D1 Capital Partners with continued participation from existing investors Monogram, Imaginary, Almanac, Wittington, Fifth Wall, and Beliade, and joining historical investors Lerer Hippeau and Revolution.
Founded in Chicago in 2014 by Mike LaVitola and Taylor Bloom, Foxtrot was launched as a digital-first e-commerce platform complemented by in-store shopping at its thoughtfully-designed neighborhood stores where shoppers can stock up on their daily needs from local purveyors and new and emerging brands.
"Foxtrot is redefining convenience for the modern consumer, marrying the best of neighborhood retail and e-commerce technology to create a community of discovery," LaVitola told FoodNavigator-USA.
The new round of funding will be used to continue to scale the business nationally, opening new brick-and-mortar locations in major cities while investing heavily in its digital shopping experience.
Over the next year, Foxtrot also plans to create and launch ~200 new private label SKUs, which now account for 30% of its retail assortment.
The Foxtrot experience: 'We invest heavily into our merchandising team'
"Foxtrot was founded on a passion for local curation and discovering unique, regionalized brands and products. Our 'secret sauce' comes from an obsession with food and connecting consumers with the best possible version of products in each category, regardless of the brand or purveyor's size. We invest heavily into our merchandising team to bring these products to Foxtrot shelves, and support our vendors in generating a newfound awareness that supports their business growth," LaVitola said.
Walking into a Foxtrot store is like stepping into a highly-curated food market featuring pantry essentials, ready-to-eat café meals, coffee, wines, spirits and local beers.
"Our spaces offer the most-loved aspects of neighborhood cafés, and you can turn to the Foxtrot App or website for 30-minute delivery and 5-minute pick up of a city’s best goods – from local craft beers and fine wines to chef-prepared meals and design-driven everyday essentials," said LaVitola.
Despite looming uncertainty from the pandemic and massive adoption of e-commerce to complete grocery shopping, consumers are itching for an elevated in-store experience, according to LaVitola.
"In an increasingly digital world, Foxtrot has seen customers fall in love with the retail space again, thanks to our stores’ emphasis on creating moments of joy in an otherwise stressful world," he said, noting how its newest stores offer an "AM to PM neighborhood experience" where consumers can grab a locally-roasted espresso in the morning or cozy up in a wine shop on their commute home from work.
Since its founding, Foxtrot has opened 16 of its unique brick-and-mortar locations across Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas with plans to expand into existing and additional markets including New York, Nashville, and Miami.
LaVitola explained that when vetting a new area to set up its retail locations that the team spends a lengthy amount of time learning about the neighborhood and surrounding area to make sure it can fit "the vibe" of the community. "When scouting a new location, Foxtrot tends to look for interesting buildings within the city, innovative design spaces, and of course, local brands and founders who align with Foxtrot’s overall mission," he said.
The process may take longer compared to other retail chains opening new locations, admitted LaVitola, but it results in a sense of belonging in the chosen local area and longevity for each new store opening.
"Foxtrot believes retail will continue to thrive if done right - beautiful spaces, tailored to the neighborhood, highlighting local makers and artisans, and providing a friendly, warm gathering space for all - and can’t wait for new cities across the country to experience the Foxtrot difference," noted LaVitola.
Omnichannel business model, digital at heart
While Foxtrot has plans in place to bring its beloved store format to consumers across the US, LaVitola emphasized the company's focus on building its digital capabilities to make shopping online at Foxtrot a seamless experience for the consumer.
"While we continue to invest in our brick and mortar stores as we scale our growth, DTC remains an important component of our business model," he said.
Foxtrot’s omnichannel shopping, supported by Perks and its proprietary mobile app, has grown +110% YTD. With further investments in personalization and omnichannel digital UX, Foxtrot said it will focus on growing its customer loyalty to drive effective customer acquisition, deepen engagement across the whole suite of offerings, and garner stickier customer behavior.
With the recent cash injection, Foxtrot will invest in logistics technology to power 30-minute delivery while optimizing store designs and UX design for 5-minute in store pickup, the company said. Foxtrot’s 5-minute market pickup has grown 250% this year, with café orders within the channel increasing at an even faster clip - +375% YTD, reported the retailer.
Last year, the retailer launched Foxtrot Anywhere, a nationwide delivery service to allow shoppers across the US a way to shop at Foxtrot and offer brands heightened visibility.
"We plan to utilize our recent Series C funding on our custom-built, vertically integrated services and operating system that connects retail shops with merchandising systems, and our focus on both local delivery and Foxtrot Anywhere. We plan to build our product and engineering teams, specifically the analytics team who are responsible for surfacing the data that fuels our private label program," added LaVitola.