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How CloudCart’s eCommerce-As-a-Service Model Enabled 100% YoY Growth and Industry-leading Retention Rates

The CloudCart team
Image credit: CloudCart
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Born out of the vision of seasoned Bulgarian entrepreneurs Nikolay Iliev and Peter Iliev, CloudCart is steadily making its mark in Southeast Europe’s eCommerce industry. The company provides eCommerce solutions for 1600+ clients across 7 countries in the region, processing over 300 million euro in gross merchandise value (GMV). Now, after having accelerated its YoY revenue growth from 35% to 100% in 2022, CloudCart is looking into expanding its market share in CEE and raising up to €3M in a pre-Series A round of funding.

Current investors in the company include Elevator Ventures, the venture capital arm of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), Bulgaria-based New Vision 3 (NV3), and Sportal Media Group.

The founders, whose individual journey in eCommerce spans 18 years, have imbued the enterprise with their in-depth understanding of the sector’s challenges and potentials. Nikolay and Peter’s past experiences of building one of Bulgaria’s first agencies to work with online retailers, creating ShopZone, the country’s first virtual online mall, and developing a product solution for building marketplaces (the last one scaled to 8500+ customers globally) have all shaped CloudCart’s foundation.

After exiting the last business they’ve decided to found CloudCart and to invest in building something even more challenging – a product that will enable ecommerce entrepreneurs to build a successful online business. The leadership team was further strengthened recently with the arrival of Peter Lozanov as a CMO, a serial entrepreneur with rich experience in eCommerce, marketing, and building tech startups. 

The eCommerce Market in CEE

The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region offers a dynamic, yet underserved eCommerce market. According to Statista, the region has seen higher growth rates in sales than many Western European countries, with the total market value of B2C eCommerce in CEE surpassing $70B.

That said, starting businesses are often encumbered by the tasks of setting up an efficient online store, curating a compelling product portfolio, choosing the right marketing partners, and navigating the complex terrain of delivery and payment options. After all, it’s not just about building an e-shop once but making it succeed afterwards. 

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Furthermore, existing platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce and Wix are not localized for the markets in CEE and often miss essential functionalities. On the other side, Magento, OpenCart and WooCommerce offer localization, they tend to be too expensive, too slow, and merchants have a hard time scaling with them as the business grows. 

With focus on non-English speaking markets, CloudCart positions itself as a solution to these hurdles, with its value proposition tailored to meet these very challenges.

The eCommerce-as-a-service model: More Than Just a SaaS

CloudCart’s primary selling point is the comprehensive nature of its solution. They don’t merely assist businesses in setting up online stores; they’ve built the CloudCart platform to maximize the chances that the businesses they work with succeed. The company understands that creating an online shop is merely the first step on a longer journey. From that initial step, they stand by their clients, providing the necessary tools and guidance needed to navigate the digital marketplace successfully.

A central part of CloudCart’s solution is a strong emphasis on marketing. The company equips its clients with the necessary tools for full visibility into their businesses, empowering them to continuously optimize their sales. Part of the platform is an all-in-one omnichannel software with built-in instruments to help merchants track marketing performance, segment their audience, and sell via email, SMS, Viber, Push notifications, pop-ups, and others. 

In addition, CloudCart offers a locally relevant service, speaking the customers’ language and operating via an extensive network of local partners, ensuring they meet the specific needs of each market they enter.

Peter Lozanov, the new CMO of CloudCart
Peter Lozanov, the new CMO of CloudCart

In the words of Peter Lozanov, “We have a simple vision – to create not just shops, but successful online businesses. That leads us to our goal – work with the top 1000 stores in every country we are entering. Our goal is not to beat WooCommerce, Shopify or Wix on the number of active stores, but to allow our top clients to maximize their profits. Their success is our true north star metrics.”

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At the heart of CloudCart’s value proposition is its unique business model – eCommerce-as-a-service, A to Z ecosystem of partners and solutions to help merchants grow – everything from marketing and sales, through payment and deliveries to business administration. 

This model positions CloudCart’s technology as the cornerstone of the eCommerce business operations of its clients and has enabled the Bulgarian startup to have much lower churn rates than the big players around the world (13% vs. 35% for Shopify). Currently, CloudCart has 1000+ integrations available.

The company’s approach to entering new markets flows into the eCommerce-as-a-service model naturally, having employed a strategy the team term “Partners First”. This approach involves forming strategic partnerships with local key players such as payment providers, delivery companies, ERPs, and more, in the initial stage of entering a new market. 

From this foundation, CloudCart then builds its local ecosystem of partners, each with vested interest, to not only introduce CloudCart to their own clientele but also to generate new leads for the company. This method of building a locally relevant product, by creating a local ecosystem, generates strong network effects and bolsters the company’s defensibility in each market they operate in.

While the CloudCart team admits that in the beginning it’s a challenge to address the diverse needs of the fragmented market in the region, they are also positive that this can also make it harder for competitors to enter later. 

“Having the leading position on our domestic Bulgarian market gives us a lot of knowledge, but entering the next 2 top target markets of Romania and Greece will allow us to rapidly reduce our time-to-market when entering a new country,” shares Nikolay Iliev.

Growth Trajectory and Future Potential

In a nutshell, CloudCart’s commitment goes beyond providing just an online store—it’s about creating successful online businesses. Its model, centered around a full-fledged ecosystem of tools and strategic partnerships, enables businesses to navigate the digital marketplace more effectively. 

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CloudCart’s growth narrative has been impressive. In the past seven months alone, the company has seen its year-over-year growth rate double from 35-40% to 100%. The aim is to propel this growth further, reaching 200% by the end of the year. This growth trajectory is mirrored in the company’s monthly recurring revenue (MRR), currently at the $200k mark, with a projected revenue exceeding 3 million euro for 2023.

As it targets further market expansion and gears up for its pre-Series A round, CloudCart doubles down on its ambition to deliver a highly scalable product that’s ‘human by nature.’


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