The success of Skladon & Retailys
Encounter with Covid, Brexit and a vastly growing digital world
At the time of strict lockdown, the delivery service was overloaded. What impact did this have on Skladon and how did you as a company deal with it? What does the current situation look like for you?
Patrik Babinec: Everyone had to adapt to the situation and to the uncertainty of the moment. Due to our technical background we were able to quickly implement new partners and spread our volumes among various carriers to ensure our packages were delivered on time. The situation in parcel delivery is stable now, as many carriers heavily invested in to the new technologies and last mile delivery.
You have recently started co-working with Skladon, which, like you, has joined the Ment2Grow, British Chamber of Commerce’s mentoring programme. Would you recommend participation in the programme to other startups?
Petr Heller: We would recommend participation in Ment2Grow to other businesses for sure. Our participation brought us new customers, we have started cooperation with other start-ups like Skladon and initialized various new projects. We also found contacts among investors, that helped boost our business.
What stands behind your success? Why is your business better than your competitors?
Patrik Babinec: We were born in e-commerce and that is where our first focus was. Unlike our competitors who had to adapt to the e-commerce boom, we have a strong background in the technology and were able to quickly detect the markets needs, and work on a product that would meet all the necessary tech. & process requirements.
How has Ment2Grow affected your operation? Do you find it useful for startups to find their mentor and exchange experiences?
Petr Heller: The mentoring program definitely had an impact on our business. We learned loads of interesting information and were given a lot of valuable advice and tips. Every start-up should have its own mentor for the first steps in the business world. Business mentors can help you look at problems from a different perspective and help you develop your business skills.
Who is your typical customer?
Patrik Babinec: Our typical customer is a fast growing e-commerce company that needs a flexible partner with whom they can grow rapidly. Focusing on sales and marketing, instead of logistics.
Retailys’s advice on how to succeed with an e-shop abroad. What are the major differences in expansion on the European markets?
Petr Heller: Every market is unique and has local specifics, which we know very well for every country in Europe and the UK. The major differences are tax rates. We automatically set up the VAT, including various rates for certain product categories and then different payment methods and carriers. We know what the most common ones are and we can connect them to the e-shop. We also know which marketing channels work best in certain countries, so we can set up and optimise these campaigns for foreign e-shops.
There are lots of things which are special for each country. Another example is how to write an address, you don’t have the same layout in Hungary as you would in Greece. Another aspect is knowledge of local marketplaces and comparators, and where you can offer your products.
The retailers believe, that translating their website is enough for expansion, but it is not that simple. If you want to conquer the European market fast and easy, you need a sophisticated tool where you can have an unlimited number of sales channels (e-shops and global marketplaces, like Amazon or Ebay) in one administration, and that is what our omnichannel solution offers.
Leaving the UK from the EU has brought trade barriers for some businesses. How did you deal with the situation, and what effect does Brexit have on logistics now?
Patrik Babinec: Brexit has complicated many things, the uncertainty was clear from the beginning of 2020, as very few companies knew what to do. We as an intra-logistics company rely heavily on our partner carriers, and they did a great job in educating themselves and finding the right ways for our customers. Although Brexit is still a considerable barrier for most of our customers selling to the UK, we found a way how to deal with it.
Do new customers contact you themselves or how do you address them?
Petr Heller: It’s a combination of both. But usually, we get them from different channels like social media, conferences, e-commerce summits and on the basis of word of mouth. We are now working on the extension of our partner network and started working with lots of different companies, so client exchanges are also taking place.
In 2019, you participated in the British Chamber of Commerce’s Ment2Grow mentoring programme. Was working with a mentor something that helped you move forward in the business?
Patrik Babinec: Absolutely, our mentor Martin Kolouch was brilliant and we established a closer cooperation even after the Ment2Grow programme.
If a Czech company decides to sell its goods in Great Britain, what specifics does this market entail, and has Brexit brought any benefits?
Petr Heller: Brexit, unfortunately, brought more problems than benefits for retail. The new regulations, VAT changes, and tariffs for goods, cost customers and retailers more money and involve more bureaucracy, so it became much less attractive to sell to the UK. Another effect of Brexit, but Covid also, caused shipping to be slower and more expensive. But not everything has only a bad side, the e-commerce sector in the UK is the fifth largest in the world and the Covid era led to a big increase in online shopping, so there are lots of opportunities for online sales, and Amazon play a big role in it. We can help with expansion to this marketplace and also connect with local payment methods like Paypal and local carriers.