Print out shipping labels with a simple mouse click and ship products at the most competitive rates. Innosend developed intelligent shipping software to simplify online retailers' lives by automatically linking orders to the right shipping method and carrier. The startup recently landed an investment from the NOM and has big ambitions for the coming years.
The shipping process is of course inextricably linked to running an e-commerce business. And at the same time, shipping is also the most time-consuming and complex aspect, as successful delivery of products is key to the success of an online business. Founders Liu Kars and Virgil Swagemakers thought this could and should be made easier. "It's not easy to set up a good distribution process as an online shop, especially if you also have customers abroad," Liu explains. "And with Innosend, we want to give these entrepreneurs the opportunity to automate and outsource that part, so they can focus on growing their business instead.”
The idea for Innosend was born in the summer of 2020, right after Liu made a difficult decision. "With my previous company Ticketguard, we were initially doing well, but because of a combination of Covid and wrong business choices, everything suddenly came to a halt. And because there was also a lot of uncertainty at the time, we had just decided to put our operations on hold for the foreseeable future. I was actually mostly busy that summer thinking about what exactly I wanted to do.
And that's when Liu met his future business partner Virgil, who suggested developing a shipping platform. “Virgil already had a lot of experience as an e-commerce entrepreneur and owned several online stores. He actually already ran into all the shipping problems that we solve with Innosend," Liu continued. “For example, the software he used at the time had features he didn't need but was paying extra for. And it was also difficult to reach out to customer service if something went wrong. He just felt like he had to keep reinventing the wheel for each and every step. There just had to be a better way and he wanted to develop that together with me.”
The foundation for a great collaboration was established. And the result is a complete package with smart software and practical tools. “You can easily integrate multiple webshops and we have a dashboard with an overview of all orders, with which you can quickly and easily print shipping labels,” Liu explains. “Our software automatically chooses the best shipping method and carrier across Europe, and we also have our own track & trace portal, so you can keep your customers informed of the shipping process personally.”
But what makes Innosend unique, according to Liu, is their personal approach. “As an online store, you’re dependent on someone else for shipping. So basically, you have no control over a very important aspect of your customer experience. So it's essential to be able to quickly get in touch with that other party. But far more often than not, that’s just not really the case. And apart from that, we also always start with a conversation about real needs first, rather than offering a package with features they don't need.”
Healthy growth & big ambitions
Their personal approach proved to be a golden ticket for Innosend. In just over two years, the company grew from an idea to 4 FTEs. “It also definitely helped that we always took customer demand as the starting point for our development,” Liu says. “So in that sense, you develop new features together with your customers and learn from their feedback. And it's also great to see that every new feature we roll out always brings in a few new customers as well. But at some point, we did reach that point where we needed additional funding to continue growing. So we reached out to the NOM for additional financing.”
Innosend is putting the extra funding to good use and they’re working hard toward a bright future. “We’re working on taking our track & trace portal to an even higher level so that it will soon be even easier for webshops to offer a better customer experience,” says Liu. “But we’re also working on a new feature for product returns. It may not be the most fun part for a webshop, but it is a great way to distinguish yourself and expand your services.”
There are also plans for an in-house fulfillment center. “There are many online stores operating from home or ones that suddenly grow a lot faster than expected. That’s great of course, but that can also result in not enough space for storage or the warehouse becoming a little too small,” Liu explains. “That's why we're also working on having our own fulfillment center, where our customers can then store their products and we can actually take care of the whole distribution process for them. And all these plans will hopefully allow us to grow into one of the bigger players in the Netherlands in the coming years.”
PHOTO courtesy of NOM