The need for more efficient fulfillment is global, but there are multiple ways to serve that need. OPLOG Inc. today announced €11 million ($10.57 million U.S.) in pre-Series A funding. The company said it plans to continue its expansion in Europe with its first fulfillment center in the U.K. and invest in research and development through its TARQAN robotics division.
OPLOG said it enables e-commerce brands to operate in various markets without physical boundaries through its international network. The Istanbul-based company provides the ability to track all the inventory and operational processes in its fulfilment centers.
OPLOG founder focuses on both software and hardware
Founded in 2013, OPLOG has warehouses in Gebze, Dilovasi, and Ankara, Turkey.
“OPLOG was a bootstrapped business until recently,” said Halit Develioğlu, founder and CEO of OPLOG. “I've spent 16 years venturing into the intersection of logistics and computer technology.”
A lifelong entrepreneur, Develioğlu has been included in the Fortune “40 Under 40.” He told Robotics 24/7 that his goal has been to “provide end-to-end fulfillment services to brands.”
“My first company provided software for logistics companies, but we've seen a tech transformation in that sector far beyond software,” said Develioğlu. “We've seen some good examples of technology-enabled businesses, but the competition has only focused on the software. Once 3PLs [third-party logistics providers] reach a certain scale, then they have to invest in robotics.”
“They typically procure solutions from the U.S., Europe, or China, but we belive that the differentiator and core competency of a logistics provider must include in-house robotics capabilities,” he noted. “There are not many examples, and we look up to Amazon.”
OPLOG topped the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Turkey, having experienced 4,564% growth. It also graduated from the Microsoft for Startups’ GrowthX Accelerator. The company said it has experienced 91% year-over-year growth in units fulfilled, in contrast to the wider e-commerce slowdown post-pandemic.
Smart warehouses use robots
OPLOG said its warehouses will use up to 50 robots. The company's proprietary& technology stocks a merchant’s products and prepares orders on their behalf. It also manages deliveries with a mix of software and robotics.
“Logistics is complex, but a warehouse consists of two major components: the four walls and roof, and then the people working there,” Develioğlu said. “Our technology optimizes these two components.”
“In a traditional 3PL approach, client management, design, and operations are all in siloes,” he added. “Space is dedicated to individual clients, but it's either underutilized or not used enough.”
“We don't offer dedicated space—we bring all the requirements within a warehouse into one big pot,” explained Develioğlu. “Our systems can store all customers' products in the same locations for the highest levels of space optimization. When real-time demand arrives, the warehouse can face it with its total labor capacity. Different clients' orders can be picked in the same route.”
With OPLOG's network, customers can use any warehouse close to their customers, and the same technology can manage transactions, he said.
TARQAN is focusing first on an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) concept for goods-to-person picking.
“By attacking traveling parts, we're looking at the time to execute travel between aisles,” he said. “Clients normally don't care what technology you use—they support it, but everyone is focused on their bottom line. We create flexibility from our business model. We charge based on usage, in terms of storage and pick/pack/shipping.”
OPLOG claimed that it is Turkey’s leading tech-enabled logistics company. It works with multinationals such as SONY, Rossmann, and Tupperware.
Esas leads investment
Esas Private Equity led OPLOG's funding round. It is a leading private equity firm in Turkey that has made numerous technology investments, such as in on-demand grocery delivery service Getir, artificial intelligence marketing platform Insider, mobile game developer Libra, and producer of lab-grown diamonds Appsilon.
“Esas is only too happy to support OPLOG—a fine example of the Turkish tech scene going from strength to strength,” said the firm. “Halit’s vision for the future of e-commerce and OPLOG’s dedication in bringing robotics to market make the company a compelling investment.”
Established in 2000, Esas said it is the largest family-owned investment firm in Turkey. Is backed by the first- and second-generation family members of Şevket Sabancı, one of the five founding members of Sabancı Holding, a leading Turkish conglomerate. With offices in Istanbul and London, Esas has total assets under management in excess of $6 billion.
“The economic downturn helped us to raise money, because we had the basics of a core competency and long-term profitability,” Develioğlu said. “Turkey has already had other economic crises, so we had the advantage of resilience. We had the freedom to start developing robots three years ago without immediate expectations of growth.”
“I am grateful to Esas for their support and investment and look forward to working closely together with them as OPLOG enters the next phase of our remarkable journey,” Develioğlu said. “Today’s announcement is testament to the hard work of the entire team—the future is very exciting.”
OPLOG plans for differentiation, expansion
OPLOG said it plans to use the investment to expand its pan-European operations. By the first quarter of 2023, the company said it will be the only one in Europe other than Amazon to operate fulfillment centers using robotics developed in-house.
By the end of the year, OPLOG will open its first warehouse outside Turkey. The U.K. facility will employ over 100 people within its first 18 months of being operational, and it will take advantage of OPLOG’s technology. OPLOG said it will form a bridge between the U.K. and Turkey.
“Turkey benefits from a pivotal position for trade,” observed the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. “Istanbul is central to trade routes, a prime location for supply chains.”
“While it may not be considered an ideal market for robotics investments, Turkey has a good base of engineers because of defense, and robotics [involves] similar concepts, if different purposes,” said Develioğlu. “We'll see more mergers between logistics providers and robot and software builders. There's no way for these companies to survive if they can't differentiate themselves through technology and business model. I believe OPLOG is unique.”