Exactly 10 years ago the struggle of shipping was more prevalent than ever. With no solution in the market and determined to stop wasting time on shipping, founders Rob, Bas and Sabi started Sendcloud.
What a ride it’s been! A decade has passed and that’s why we feel it’s time to join us on our rocketship and have a look back at 10 years of innovation together. Here’s our trip down memory lane.
3, 2, 1… ready for take-off: the rise of Sendcloud
Before we kick off, let’s share a fun fact. Did you know, that today there are about 500-star players working for Sendcloud? Along the way, employees started to call Sendcloud a rocket ship. Why? The sky’s not the limit here at Sendcloud.
So let’s find out what has been achieved in a decade.
How it all started
Our three founders have not only been business partners but also friends for a very long time.
When they were studying, they had an online store selling smartphone accessories. Think about that industry for a second. It’s so difficult to crack. Huge competition and low margins.
How could they survive when shipping rates were incredibly expensive and labels had to be created by hand? Ridiculous in a digital world.
Looking for a solution on Google and in forums, they realised that nothing existed. They thought, “F*** it, let’s do it ourselves”.
So they called another friend that hopped on the rocket ship. This was the first developer of Sendcloud.
The only thing left to fix was a contract with a courier so the first connection with their shop system could be built.
The power of partnerships
No couriers, no shipping solution
Being in their early twenties, it was a challenge to arrange a chat with the chiefs of huge delivery companies. They first tried to partner up with smaller partners of the big delivery companies.
“Luckily we knew the nephew of the CFO of PostNL. So we gave him a nice offer of 150 euros and a crate of beer to connect us to his uncle haha. His uncle eventually emailed and connected us to the e-commerce director and that’s how it all started.” | Rob van den Heuvel, CEO (Sendcloud)
They thought they would never get a good deal out of it, but when PostNL visited the founders in their so-called “office” (i.e. one of the parent’s homes), they came up with numerous ways to offer discounted rates to the first users. DHL followed quickly after that initial success.
The very first version of Sendcloud was born and linked orders from Magento and WooCommerce to PostNL and DHL.
With higher consumer demands and a growing user base, connecting with more couriers became incredibly important. A multi-courier solution and direct integrations with different shop systems and marketplaces became the solid base of our platform.
Next to that, it was possible to use Sendcloud discounted rates with these couriers and to upload their own courier contracts. This hybrid way, combining both, still helps a lot of online retailers ship as efficiently as possible today.
Now, 10 years later. We’ve managed to integrate 100+ couriers all throughout Europe. We even built a solution that enables couriers themselves to integrate with Sendcloud.
“Because Sendcloud has a large network of couriers, you can send flexibly and easily scale.” | Lars Ackerman, Bloomon
The Sendcloud tribe
Without partners, there’s no success. That’s something we learned in the early stages of being a start-up. That’s why we built an internal team that’s responsible for building and maintaining partnerships. Whether those are SaaS solutions that build or optimise online businesses or digital agencies and platforms, we share one common goal and that’s helping online retailers to grow.
With that mindset, we’re still growing our Sendcloud tribe and have built over 60 integrations with different shop systems, marketplaces, WMS- and ERP systems, and even payment solutions to solve the hassle of return costs.
“We realised early on that partnerships are add-ons to our own product and services. A perfect way to scale more broad and faster than others. For us, partnerships are more than profits. It’s about building a community that people want to be a part of, be a market-magnet”. | Roland Jansen, Global Head of Partnerships (Sendcloud)
Growing from label generation to revolutionising the shipping process
With the right ingredients in place, we wanted to build the best solution out there to make shipping as easy as possible. Which is actually easier said than done. Let’s dive into the Sendcloud platform and find out what has been developed to tackle shipping from A to Z.
A single click on the button
The first and still most appreciated feature of the platform is the label generation feature. This feature enables retailers that connect their online sales channels to Sendcloud to print shipping labels in just one click. An error-free way of generating shipping labels.
Even with a “simple” solution like this, innovation is possible. The Sendcloud shipping rules have been introduced years later and are automating label generation even further. They work with an “if this (and this) then that” scenario that, once set up, will apply to all orders which meet the criteria and automatically adjust these orders to match the rule created.
What started as a simple online portal to generate shipping labels for a few Dutch couriers, has developed into a full all-in-one solution to automate logistics at scale. We’ve been successfully serving customers while we experienced rapid growth of our business. We now handle more and larger customers and have successfully expanded to 8 different countries. | Tim Drijvers, CTO (Sendcloud)
Making tracking updates sexy
The first additional feature that was connected to shipping label generation was the possibility to send out branded tracking emails with updates on the delivery status. Based on the activities of the delivery companies, tracking emails were triggered to be sent out to consumers. This way, all manual work could be eliminated.
Over time, we kept improving the feature. Today it looks fancy AF, if we may say so ourselves. An additional tracking page has been launched to enable online retailers to offer free marketing possibilities at the moment consumers are most engaged with them. We also offer automated updates when parcels are delayed which can help you save a ton of time during peak times. As a cherry on top, you can even make it snow on the tracking page when it’s the holiday season. Pretty cool isn’t it?
“Since we implemented Sendcloud, our customer reviews have gone up and the number of customer service inquiries has decreased.” | Marijn Soetekouw, Online manager (Boots)
The road to flexible delivery: service points
Another feature that followed was delivery to service points. Many couriers offered this shipping method as a way to save costs, become more environmentally friendly and decrease missed delivery attempts. When using Sendcloud, users can integrate service point delivery in their checkout. Consumers get more flexibility in the delivery method they chose and they make sure their parcel gets delivered without being home.
When service point delivery is enabled, a parcel shop selector will be shown in the check-out if a consumer selects service point delivery as the chosen shipping method.
Picking, packing, and shipping in no time with Pack & Go
When online stores grow, one thing is certain. The way orders are processed changes. WMS and ERP systems get into place and orders get picked and packed as quickly as possible. The connection with shipping in this process is not always made that easily. Therefore, we developed a way to combine the pick and pack process together with the label generation process. Pack & Go was born. It makes it possible to print picking slips and packing lists together with scanning the barcode to generate the right shipping label with it.
Along the way, the feature got further improved. It’s even possible to add instructions for the right boxes to the picking process. This way we want to streamline the full process as picking, packing, and shipping orders go hand-in-hand.
“Before, I spent 10 hours handling 20 packages. With Sendcloud, our warehouse can handle 2.000 packages a day.”| Mareike Peters, Founder and CEO (nkm)
Solving the biggest pain in the ass: returns
Without a proper return solution, retailers face a time-consuming process that costs a lot of money and often products go to waste. Therefore, we felt the need to come up with a solution that could help with this.
We decided to build a branded return portal that enables the automation of the entire return process. Online retailers set up the portal once and decide upon the requirements for returning an item. Then, when consumers want to return an item, they can submit a return themselves.
The latest development in this feature is that we enable a way to let consumers pay for the return. A connection with Payment Service Provider Mollie ensures returns can be paid within the return portal. The only thing that’s left to do for you as an online retailer is to keep track of the status of the return and process it in your warehouse.
“Our customers can register their returns themselves via the returns portal. This not only leads to higher customer satisfaction, but our back office can now focus on more important things.”| Rick Harink, Head of Sales & Operations (Bunzlau Castle)
The numbers tell the tale: analytics
“We have a lot of parcel data, so why don’t we share it to provide extra value?” And that’s how the analytics feature was born. The analytics dashboard within Sendcloud shows shipping data over time, as well as statistics per courier and per sales channel (if multiple sales channels are connected to Sendcloud).
When the return portal is enabled, the analytics dashboard shows trends in return rates and gives insights into the return reasons. It’s also possible to export the data in bulk. Last but not least, one of the latest developments in this feature is that it’s now possible to receive data insights automatically via email updates.
“I like the Analytics dashboard that gives us visibility on all our orders and their statuses. It gives us valuable information about our shipments and returns over time!” | Nicolas Hernandez, Co-Founder, Pétrone
Increase conversion rates enabling stores to sell more: dynamic checkout feature
One of the latest Sendcloud babies is the dynamic checkout feature. Think about it. Consumers leave checkouts if the right delivery method is missing or shipping is too expensive (as discovered in our consumer research). With the dynamic checkout feature retailers decide what shipping zones and methods are activated in the checkout, Sendcloud does the rest.
Consumers can choose what delivery method suits them best and orders are automatically imported with the right shipping method applied. In the backend, it’s shown when an order needs to be processed and shipped. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
One platform to rule them all
Having a custom-built store or want to integrate with Sendcloud without interacting inside the platform itself? Offering APIs was the solution. It gives every online retailer or external solution access to our different features and possibilities.
There are separate APIs available for: shipping labels, service points, shipping products, return portal, tracking, pickup, dynamic checkout, and returns V3. Want to know more about it? Check out this help centre article for in-depth information about the many APIs we offer.
“We at Hive use the Sendcloud API to connect to our couriers for generating shipping labels. We are always looking for ways to expand our delivery offering to meet all of our customers needs and are scaling fast in new markets, which means that we are constantly adding new delivery providers to our portfolio.” | Oskar Ziegler, CEO and Founder (Hive)
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Entering new markets to centralise a fragmented parcel network
Offering one solution in a fragmented market wasn’t very easy. Therefore, Sendcloud entered new markets quickly. It all started with the launch in Belgium and Germany followed by five other markets. Today, we are active in eight markets in Europe.
The European shipping market is still highly fragmented. Every courier offers different delivery methods and prices are incredibly high when going across borders. Next to that, when shipping from one country to another, even in the same customs union, it’s very hard to maintain the same service level as in domestic markets. Therefore, with more integrations and connections to different couriers, we are on a mission to unify the European parcel network.
That all sounds very fancy, but what does it actually mean? We want to make it as easy as possible to connect to couriers all throughout Europe while still being able to offer local and flexible delivery methods for online retailers. The Easy Returns Solution is one example of that. With the Easy Returns Solution, we enable the possibility to drop off returns at the closest postal office, even if the postal courier is not the same as the courier that delivered the initial shipment. Check out how it works here.
No success without a full House of Talent
Remember the star players mentioned in the introduction of this article? Well, we wouldn’t have been where we are today without the right people on board. One of the core values of Sendcloud is to grow & win together. We are proud of a few OG’s who have grown and built full teams. From working at customer service to becoming a recruiter and creating the House of Talent that we have today. How cool is that? We are also thrilled with all the new talent that joins us on a monthly base. They bring new expertise to take the platform to a next level.
Loads of milestones have been reached and that couldn’t be possible without hiring the right talent.
“Since Sendcloud is unconventional as a company, the House of Talent and Talent Magic team is here to look past traditional, and hire the original.” | Isabeau Bruno, Head of Talent Magic (Sendcloud)
We grew from 50 to almost 500 employees in just 5 years. They are all working very hard to optimise processes and build and improve features.
All with the same goal in mind. Make sure all online retailers can focus on what matters most: growing their own business without wasting time on shipping.
A final note
All of these developments weren’t possible without investments. Therefore we want to thank the investors for their trust and sharing expertise: Startupbootcamp, TiiN Capital, BOM (Brabantse Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij), HenQ, AXA Ventures, Bonsai Partners, SoftBank of L Catterton, and HPE Growth.
And last but definitely not least, we want to thank all of our customers! Without you, it wouldn’t have been possible to grow together. With your input and trust, we can continuously develop Sendcloud further and thrive together.
On to the next 10 years full of innovations and growth!