In an interview with Startup Valley News: Nothing comes from nothing!
Why don't you briefly introduce yourself and the startup parcelLab to our readers!
parcelLab started in 2014 with the three founders Tobias, Julian and Anton and the idea to improve the online shopping experience with proactive customer communication during product shipping. Our solution does away with boring shipping notifications, instead keeping customers up to date with personalized messages at the right time. For online retailers, this means open rates of 70% and click rates of more than 30% - the optimal platform for marketing and upselling and an ideal way to improve logistics processes.
The parcelLab team has now grown to 20 people and supports over 90 customers worldwide in perfect shipping communication from the Munich office.
How did the idea for parcelLab come about?
In numerous conversations with online retailers, it became clear that they were dissatisfied with the status information provided by logistics service providers. They wanted more transparency and the opportunity to make the shipping process more positive - for themselves and the customer. After all, in the event of delivery discrepancies, the customer reports his questions and complaints to the retailer, not to the logistics provider. We therefore came up with the idea of looking at the shipping process from the customer's point of view, putting the retailer in the customer's shoes, so to speak. The retailer, not the logistics service provider, should inform the customer where his package is at the moment. In this way, he can control the communication process himself and intervene quickly in an emergency if delays or problems occur. This proactive approach creates closer customer ties and maximum transparency - for both sides.
From idea to launch what have been the biggest challenges so far and how have you financed yourself?
We failed phenomenally with our original idea - the final idea for parcelLab only emerged in Google Launchpad when we had conversations with merchants. The biggest challenge was letting go and forging a new path. But it was clear that the new direction offered enormous potential and was therefore the right thing to do. Nevertheless, in the course of this reorientation, the team at the time broke up, because not everyone had faith in the new approach. Tobias, Julian and I then developed the idea into parcelLab.
Today, our financing is based on three pillars: In the beginning, through the personal contributions of the three founders, as well as EU funding through the Accelerator SpeedUp EUROPE. In August 2016, venture capital was also added, invested by Bayern Kapital and four renowned business angels. This enabled us to push ahead with stronger growth.
Who is parcelLab's target group?
Our target audience includes online retailers of all types and from all sectors. Our customers successfully operate both large and smaller stores, such as Tchibo, Cyberport, nu3, Chal-Tec or Marley Spoon.
What service do you offer?
On the one hand, we operate the shipping communication of the merchant - these are shipping messages in the corporate identity of the store, so that the customer knows at all times with whom he is communicating. This creates clarity and transparency. Proactive communication at the right time also means that the customer is always informed and feels well taken care of; annoyed "Where is my package?" inquiries to the store are thus eliminated. In addition, the retailer gains important contact points, because instead of being sent to external sites by status messages from logistics providers, the customer receives e-mails from the retailer that lead him back to the shop for shipment tracking - where the retailer can tie in with the last purchase with cross- and upselling promotions.
Furthermore, we offer a detailed overview of the performance of the logistics providers used: With our intelligent Parcel Monitoring, retailers get full transparency on their service providers and can thus continuously optimize their shipping.
How much does the service cost?
The cost for our service varies depending on the shipment volume. For a shipment volume of less than 20,000 shipments per month, our parcel prices take effect; above that, a customized offer is designed for the individual customer. Our service can thus start from as little as 0.01€ per parcel. Like our customers, we also attach great importance to perfect customer service and thus work out an individual offer adapted to the needs of the retailer.
Why should you use parcelLab?
Today, unfortunately, retailers often react only when a customer complains. It would be better to think customer service proactively - that is, to answer typical customer questions such as "When will my parcel arrive?" before the customer has even asked them. And if problems do arise, transparency is the first duty of a retailer: If a customer is informed quickly, directly and honestly, he or she feels taken seriously even if there are problems and is more likely to forgive frustrations.
Another enormously important starting point for retailers is to actively use shipping. Instead of letting this promising touchpoint lapse, it should be used to further enhance the experience with the product by offering the customer added value: Bike building instructions or nutrition tips can make the positive difference here compared to the competition.
parcelLab, where is it headed? Where do you see yourself in five years?
In general, of course, we want to remain the leading solution for shipping communications in e-commerce. We've also already started to tap into the US market for a deployment of our services - potentially expanding that further.
In conclusion: What 3 tips would you give to aspiring founders?
- Nothing comes from nothing!
Founding a startup means working hard and forcing success.
- Sell first, then comes the product!
We sold the vision and tried to get paying customers for it, then we worked with those customers to develop the product.
- Make customers happy!
As a founder, it is very easy to forget to take care of your existing customers. For this reason, we have very early on a Customer Success Manager, which has paid off for us completely..
The interview, conducted by Sabine Elsässer, appeared in April 2017 at Startup Valley News.
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