We’ve all been there: that little card comes through your letterbox saying ‘sorry we missed you’ and your parcel then enters an eternal state of postal purgatory because the post office opening times conveniently coincide with your working hours.
Or, worse: you take a day off to receive the parcel and those pesky delivery people stick the card through anyway and insist you just didn’t hear them knocking all the way from the other side of your 100-square foot studio flat.
Thankfully two young entrepreneurs are trying to counteract these irritating facts of life – at least when it comes to gifting – through their new ecommerce site, Postboxed.
I caught up with founders Liza Mirelman and Markus Polleichtner to find out what drove them to start the business and how they’re planning on making themselves heard in a fiercely competitive market.
How does it work?
Postboxed only sells gifts that fit through standard-size letterboxes in the UK.
Just pick a gift, create your customisable card, and then Postboxed will package that gift in a box specially designed to be UK letterbox-friendly.
So that takes care of the delivery problem, but are the products any good? Polleichtner says the focus is on high-end rather than low-end, so the site is aimed at people who want to buy quality gifts rather than novelty stocking fillers.
“We try to focus on independent producers,” he says. “Stuff that is artisan, handmade in the UK.”
Our objective was to stock products we would actually like to gift to our friends.
“It’s like a curated list of products,” Mirelman says. “We don’t expect people to come to the site knowing exactly what they want, we expect people to come to the site to get some gift ideas.”
The site is built using Shopify, a decision driven, Mirelman says, by its security and simplicity.
“We used the Shopify template and edited it ourselves,” she says. “We had a basic knowledge of coding – I’ve built websites before – and we’ve learnt the rest along the way.”
So where did the inspiration come from? According to the two budding entrepreneurs it was personal experience that drove them to launch Postboxed.
“We got the idea because we were both in busy jobs and we never had time to go and pick any packages up,” Mirelman says.
But frustration as a sender was also a key motivator.
“When you’re sending a package you don’t want to worry about the recipient having to stay in all day to receive it or go to the delivery office to collect it.
“We had that problem, our friends had the same problem, so we looked for a solution.”
The idea may have been born of the pair’s personal frustrations, but there are plenty of stats to back up their idea.
“We found an IMRG report that said there were more than 9m missed Christmas deliveries in the UK last year,” Polleichtner says, “Which is expected to grow to more than 10m this year, so that’s our main angle.”
The marketing efforts so far…
Ecommerce is a tough business to be in around Christmas, particularly as a fledgling startup. So how is Postboxed trying to be heard above the noise?
“We use Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, and we’re trying to increase our Twitter presence,” Polleichtner says.
“But last week we started with our PR advisor and that’s going to be our main focus now.”
“Twitter has been amazing,” Mirelman says. “The fact you can post something and have people talking about it straight away was a big shock for me. But in terms of ads we’ve had the most success with Facebook.”
“The problem with Google is you end up paying quite a lot per click,” Polleichtner says. “And Facebook seems to be the most targeted: we’ve had a comparatively low bounce rate and page view count per session.”
The traffic from PR placements, Polleichtner says, is very good. But with many of those people not actually turning into customers the conversion rate is still relatively low.
Luckily the pair of them came from an analytical background, so testing the site is a big part of what they’re doing, as Polleichtner explains:
Our next big project is to run a Google Adwords campaign to get more data points. We want to know what people who buy from us are looking for and then use that information to implement changes to our site.
In terms of future plans, Postboxed will look at explanding into the international marketing.
But the biggest challenge with that is the inconsistency of post boxes across Europe, something fundamental to the brand’s ability to operate.
“Our business model is obviously dependent on letter box sizes,” Polleichtner says. “There is a European standard but not all countries comply, so we have to look at it on a country by country basis.”