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Wish, now valued at $11.2 billion, wants to deliver Chinese-made goods faster

As Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) invest millions in faster delivery, bargain shopping app Wish is raising money to build logistics in a similar effort to speed up delivery to its deal-hunting users.

San Francisco-based Wish, which connects manufacturers in China to customers in the U.S. and other markets in Europe and South America, announced Thursday its latest Series H funding led by General Atlantic. The latest round boosts Wish’s valuation to $11.2 billion from $8.7 billion in late 2017, strengthening Wish’s status as one of the most valuable unicorns in the U.S. Reform Ventures and Manhattan Venture Partners also participated in the round, according to PitchBook. The Information previously reported that Wish planned to raise $300 million in the Series H.

Founded in 2010 by Google veteran Peter Szulczewski and Yahoo veteran Danny Zhang (CTO of Wish who left the company in April), Wish has been known for its low-price points, wide selections and long wait times for packages that are sent from across the ocean. Despite the controversy over product quality and poor customer service, Wish says it has more than 80 million monthly active users and sold nearly 1 billion products in 2018. It was ranked No. 2 among shopping apps in the U.S. during the second quarter, with 25 million new users, right behind Amazon, according to SensorTower data.

Partnering with local stores

Wish is one of the most valuable VC-backed unicorns in the U.S.
Wish is one of the most valuable VC-backed unicorns in the U.S.

Like Amazon, which has been aggressively investing in one-day delivery, Wish also sees reducing shipping time as a priority. But it has a different end goal from the Seattle-based giant.

“Logistics is probably the single greatest focus, but it’s not by following what Amazon does,” said Glenn Lehrman, vice president of communications at Wish. “I don't think we're ever going to be Amazon or we're offering today delivery or one day. That’s not our business model. People who are buying from us, or value-conscious consumers, don't want to pay that premium for delivery.”

If people shop for products from China on Wish, it usually takes two to three weeks to arrive. So Wish has built warehouses to store products in countries where buyers are located and introduced the Wish Express program, which guarantees delivery within five business days.

Lehrman said the company is also taking a more “unconventional approach” by teaming up with mom-and-pop stores and leveraging them as small warehouses and package pick-up points for customers within the neighborhood. Since the beginning of this year, Wish has launched the Wish Local program in 6,000 stores worldwide and it aims to grow the program to 20,000 by yearend. Wish pays stores for each delivered package and encourages store owners to sell in-store items on the platform.

The eight-year-old company, which has not been profitable, doesn’t disclose sales numbers. Lehrman said the focus of the company is to grow, while it eyes an IPO in 18 months to two years.

Krystal Hu covers technology and China for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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