Case: Visdeal shops of the brothers Bontrup
"With the help of Picqer we are able to realize our growth"
Willen Bontrup (37) and his twin brother Teun own Bontrup Media. On their (international) webshops they sell fishing products. Nine months ago they started with Picqer. “We are growing fast, but need less manpower to achieve this.”
They ran a site on which they sold advertorial space but were in the search of a more lucrative niche. Maybe equestrian items? Or camping gear? The brothers Willem and Teun Bontrup thought about a lot of different options six years ago, and finally saw that there was a high demand for the selling of online fishing products. “In all European countries, five to six percent of the population fishes. This is quite a large target group.”
They built a simple script, conducted a pilot and visdeal.nl was born. The twins didn’t know anything about fishing and gained experience along the way. “After a while we hired employees who were home in the fishing industry, which was a relief for us. They were able to describe our products well and were able to help clients better. For our employees, affinity with fishing is a must. We have fishers working for us that are well known in the business. When we stand on conferences, they are sometimes even distributing signatures.”
Quite fast after the start of Visdeal.nl the brothers saw sites such as Groupon where every day new products were being offered. This is something that can be done in the fishing industry too, they thought. In 2014 they bought their first remaining batches of fishing rods and discovered that there was a market for this.
“Not everyone wants brand new items, some people will opt for a lower price. A fishing rod that is one year old will not cost a hundred, but fifty euro.” They created a newsletter in which they put ten to twenty deals every day. In the beginning the offer was decided by the suppliers, now after 20.000 deals that they have analyzed with data, they know what works and what doesn’t. “Although we still get surprised once in a while, both positive and negatively.”
The newsletter is distributed daily to 350.000 people. Half of the receivers will click on a deal and thus generate a lot of traffic to the website. “The newsletter is, besides Facebook on which we have 200.000 followers, the engine of our success.”
Who thinks of fishing, probably sees an old guy under an umbrella watching a bobber, but that image is not true anymore, Willem Bontrup believes. “These days, fishing has become an adventurous sport. A lot of fishermen are going onto the water at night, and are very enthusiastic when they have caught something. They share their catches with each other on app groups. It is for a lot of people a real passion.” Visdeal.nl has a lot of fanatic fishers as customer, but also people who only fish a few times a year with a cheap fishing set know where to find the site.
“For us it is favorable that a lesser day is never to blame on the fish or their skills, but always on their equipment,” Laughs Bontrup.
Self-construction didn’t work anymore
Because fishing items often have quite the size, such as large rods and tents, the Bontrup brothers have a large warehouse of 2000 square meters in use. The system to manage stock, they developed just as their website, themselves. Then they got so busy with managing the company and traffic on the website, that there was no time to purchase a decent warehouse-system. Until they noticed more mistakes slipped through.
“The stock didn’t match anymore, and there were bugs in the system which gave packages the wrong code.” Something had to happen, Bontrup decided 9 months ago. On Google he searched for a new system, and soon he found Picqer. “I liked that it was operated by two guy who clearly were into it. On my mail I received a quick reply, it all spoke to me more than a cumbersome and expensive system.”
Teun Bontrup gave us on video explanation about the pick process in their warehouse.
The help articles in easy and clear language that Picqer offers online, made the system understandable for everyone in the office. Questions were also quickly answered. A relief for Bontrup.
“If we only had chosen for Picqer three years earlier, it would have saved us a lot of manpower and mistakes, and far more rest in the company. The stock is now well managed, the client gets what was ordered and employee costs have dropped. Furthermore there is more rest in our help and sales department. While we are growing rapidly, there are less employees necessary to maintain this growth.”
Even though Visdeal has loyal customers, a few small mistakes can result in bad reviews online. “If you don’t deliver what you promise, it can have consequences. The other way around, a positive experiences of a customer will be spread too.”
Listening to music
Picqer also supports international expansion. Visdeal is active in Great-Britain, Germany, Belgium and France, for the future Denmark and Poland are planned. “Every two to three months we add an additional European country. In the system of Picqer there are multiple delivery companies that can be selected. For us it makes a trustworthy partner with whom we can organise the growth we have in mind.”
That Picqer is a growing company with a start-up feel, makes them sympathetic, flexible, fast and approachable, thinks Bontrup. “When we come up with a suggestion, they have often thought about it already. I notice they see a lot of warehouses and have a lot of knowledge about it. A while ago I asked them for advice: can guys who pick orders walk around with headphones on to listen to music? ‘Imagine a forklift truck driving around and somebody collides with it? That is not something you want’ Casper of Picqer advised. That was valuable advice to me.”
Facts & figures of Visdeal
Visdeal.nl is one of the websites of Bontrup Media, runned by the brothers Willem and Teun Bontrup. The site exists since 2011 and has besides the Dutch version also the German fischdeal.de, the English fishdeal.co.uk, the Belgian visdeal.be and the French pechepromo.fr. The revenue of the company doubles each year, they have 28 employees and are expanding the concept internationally. The brothers have also their own fishing product line: Ultimate.
Bontrup Media uses Picqer since the start of 2017. This interview has been conducted in December 2017.
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