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With $3 dog food and diaper wipes, Brandless builds out an Amazon alternative

Brandless, which launched in the summer of 2017, is now poised to work its way into your entire home.

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Starting today, the e-commerce startup is working to win over your dog or cat with Frisbees, collars, and freeze-dried chicken liver dog treats. (Sounds gross, but apparently they’re all the rage with canines.) Brandless is also slowly moseying into your baby’s nursery, with a new line of baby wipes, diaper rash cream, lotion, and baby food.

It’s all part of the startup’s plan to compete directly with Amazon. But Brandless is also distinct from Amazon in several important ways. In the face of Amazon’s endless scroll of countless brands, Brandless wants to eliminate decision paralysis from the shopping process. The company designs and creates products in-house, so rather than scanning through 20 brands of toilet paper, there is only one option.

Brandless promises that its products are made to high standards using rigorous internal guidelines. For instance, it has banned more than 400 ingredients from its own beauty products. Its assortment of shelf-stable foods contains no GMOs or artificial preservatives and flavors. All paper products are made sustainably from bamboo, sugarcane fiber, and FSC certified wood.

[Photo: courtesy of Brandless]
The new pet and baby products all abide by these standards, which will appeal to consumers who want to give these valued family members non-toxic goods. The baby food pouches and teething wafers are organic, for example, and the pet mats are topped with organic cotton.

When Brandless launched, it wanted to make pricing easier for customers by charging $3 for every item in the store. (Inexpensive items, like popcorn, are sold as a pack of two for $3.) But with these new lines, Brandless is expanding into a higher price point of $9. Diapers, for instance, come in a $9 supply designed to last a week, and dog supplements come in $9 jars designed to last a week. The idea is to make ordering more convenient.

Last summer, Brandless got a whopping $240 million from Japanese VC fund SoftBank Group, which valued Brandless at over half a billion dollars. The company had already received $51 million, in three rounds, from funds like NEA and Redpoint, as well as individuals like NBA stars Steph Curry and Nick Young.

Taking on Amazon is a formidable challenge, but there’s some evidence that consumers are frustrated with the e-commerce giant. Last year, my Fast Company colleague Mark Wilson made the case that Amazon’s two-day shipping was an increasingly false promise, and Cale Weissman argued that it may be time to cancel your Amazon Prime account. If Amazon customers are looking for a viable alternative to their everyday shopping needs, Brandless is making a bid for their business.

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