This episode features a conversation with Dru Carpenter, Founder & CCO of Slippy.io. We discuss how brands can personalise the unboxing experience and why this is important.
On the Show Today You’ll Learn:
- The best Marketing channel with a high opening rate
- How to can increase the lifetime value of your customers
- Why the unboxing experience of the customer is so crucial
- Why personalization is essential
- And more
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guests: Dru Carpenter
Dru Carpenter is the Founder & CCO of Slippy.io. Dru started selling online ~ 6 years ago, and joined a fulfillment company called Huboo as one of their first sales hires. He helped scale that business to Series B, and then decided to jump back into the early-stage startup world by joining a company called Scribeless, which provides “handwritten" direct mail services.
Combining his experience in selling and then providing fulfillment and direct mail services, he founded slippy to create a new marketing channel for eCommerce and enable brands to personalize the unboxing experience.
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Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the eCommerce Coffee Break podcast. As a Shopify merchant, you are always looking for ways to increase your customer lifetime value. You're always looking for ways to have marketing channels that have a high opening rate, and that gets through to your customer with your message.
Now, there is actually one way. To get a hundred percent opening rate. Now it's not sms, it's not text messaging, something different. And that's why we're on dive into today and find out what is the secret to this. So with me today on the show, I have Drew Carpenter, he's the founder and CEO of Sleepy at , Drew started selling online about six years ago and joined a fulfillment company called Hobo as one of their first hires back in the time he helped scale.
To a business, to a csb, and then decided to jump back into the early stage startup world by joining a company called Skyless that provides handwritten direct mail services. Combining his experience in selling and then providing fulfillment and direct mail services, he found Slippy to create a new marketing channel for e-commerce and enabled brands to personalize the unboxing experience.
So that gave it a little bit away. Hi Drew. How are you?
Dru Carpenter: Yeah, I'm pretty good. Thank you. How about.
Claus Lauter: All good. Thank you. Drew. Give me a bit of a background. You have obviously a good on different ways on how to market things for startup to get through to the customer, and with your idea, you're going a bit of , a new route. I wanna talk little bit more about this. So give me an idea on how you got started with this.
Dru Carpenter: Sure. , so I'd say obviously a lot of my background is in fulfillment and joining a company called HaBO, helping scale that, , I was in business development, but I was also picking and packing orders. Outreaching, finding new customers, going down to the warehouse and onboarding them. So pretty good idea on how a fulfillment process works.
, I joined a company called Scribe List, as you mentioned, that provided handwritten direct mail services. So that was all about the, , boxing and the experience and customer experience and helping improve that. , handwritten direct mail, we try and boast a pretty high open rate. You can't really say it's a hundred percent, we can't track it.
, and it's something that can still be reliant on address data, , and whether the customer actually opens it, if it's handwritten, of course they're more likely to open it, but they still don't necessarily do. so I joined the company. , we let some eCommerce companies at the time use our handwriting AI software to print things in house.
, it was quite high end printers and the process was fairly manual. , so it only really worked for kind of high end jewelry companies and generally they'd use it for stuff like gift messaging and a few extra bits. , but it wasn't very feasible in a fulfillment process without an insanely high average order. I joined obviously from a fulfillment background. , so we worked, a lot on the fulfillment process and how we can narrow that, time down to a much shorter period. , and we realized that if we can narrow that time down to a much shorter period, , and also use more affordable printing methods, then the market for this type of product becomes a lot wider.
we realized that actually personalizing the unboxing experience. One. Pretty much the only point in the customer journey where it's not personalized, right? Like you use text, you use email, you use targeted ads, you even use direct mail, and you can personalize all those avenues.
But with the unboxing experience, all you do is put, let's say a generic insert or something that's, , not personalized to that customer. So we realized that that's an opportunity for a new channel. , we also think it's one of the best channels. We would be biased, but, I dunno about you, but when you get something in the post, you're pretty excited about the brand.
You're thinking about the products that you purchased. It's a great time to target customers with new content. the, The extent to which personalizing the unboxing experience. Is a lot more than just handwriting, right? You can use it in a similar way to how you use email and you can personalize by QR codes or normal text or images, product images.
couple of examples is like, , dynamic QR codes. So we can send you to a prefilled basket based on what you've purchased previously or certain product recommendations or even through to a returns portal that already has your order information. So it makes the returns process pretty easy. so yeah, I guess , that's a bit of back.
Claus Lauter: Okay, now the idea is great. I love it. , because as you said, usually you try to personalize and optimize everything in the customer journey, and there's a lot of tools there to do this while people are shopping and are in the funnel. But once they get it delivered, there are some merchants who put in some flyers, some slip ins, whatever.
But as I said, it's generalized. It's not personalized. And you taking this just one step further, and again, somebody who gets his delivery, the open rate is a hundred percent. You're waiting for it . So the only step in the whole process where you have the full attention of your customer, and I wanna dive a little bit deeper into this, you personalize what they see, what they get.
So it's not. Their name, it goes much, much deeper in there. So explain a little bit on how that works.
Dru Carpenter: Exactly. , , the easiest channel we like to compare it to is email. , cuz it's quite easy to visualize and see how that would work. , our platform works in a similar way to how you'd do something like Clavio or MailChimp, where you can set up templates, , with various personalized fields.
So it could be a personalized image or personalized first name as you mentioned, or QR code or whatever else. And then we have flows. So you set up like decision mapping, to assign different types of customers, different types of templates based on what they've purchased. , so say they're a first time customer, you can point them towards a certain template.
So they've spent over X amount. Say Whatever else we can import. Pretty much everything from Shopify, any custom fields, anything. anything that you wanna personalize it by, you can do through our platform.
Claus Lauter: Okay, so the flow is somebody orders and then automatically. Into a flow that then produces the packaging slip with the specific message for that specific customer.
Dru Carpenter: Yeah, exactly. , we produce like a file and we sit that in like an order table. , and then we also automate the print process. So , we can provide the printer and paper and all of that stuff we set up with the printer, , and trigger that to happen at the right time in the fulfillment to make it nice and easy for the fulfillment to pick and pack.
Claus Lauter: Okay, so what's happening if somebody is already using any kind of packaging slip or whatsoever, Can a process they already have be integrated or taken into your system?
Dru Carpenter: Yeah, certainly. , so there's a few different methods, , and initially our kind of assumption would be that we'd, , almost replicate a packing slip and add some extra features. , because a packing slip, right, no one particularly likes them. They're quite boring. They're quite dull. what we're finding is more and more people are just removing packing slips entirely and they're going to a digital pick and that kinda.
we've got about eight or nine different fulfillment methods to get this to print. So we can merge with a packing slip. We can get the information from a packing slip and put it into a template. we can remove the packing slip entirely, and it can just be used as a marketing insert. it can replace it or it can be complimentary alongside it.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Not every merchant does the fulfillment in-house. Quite a few of them work with three PL warehouses. It's outsourced. How would it work this is happening? how do process fit in with a three PL warehouse for
Dru Carpenter: Sure. We'd set up with that three pl. , the process that we've built has been with three pls in mind, right? Like my background is from a three pl, so it makes it pretty easy to sell to them. Ultimately, they become the decision maker in a lot of these things. , you'd be surprised. So obviously most three pls.
Don't wanna offer personalized things generally, I would say, right, like personalized packaging or different types of things. It's a hassle for them because they've gotta deal with inbound storage and picking of these generic, skews where they come down to like different inserts or packaging types and they don't really have logic to assign, say.
They don't have the logic to personalize it, so you can't assign certain packaging to certain orders. Generally, with us we're essentially a print on demand solution. So yes, they do have to have a printer on the packing bench, but from that point, all they need to do is pick it at the same time as the order so they don't have to deal with, , getting things through inbound.
They don't really have to deal with storing lots of different types of inserts for different types of customer. It works pretty well for three pls as well, and obviously they make money off it because they can charge customers, , to include one of these in their orders.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Now when it comes to the printing material, to the paper, to the printer, how does that work?
Dru Carpenter: Sure. , so obviously we've tested a lot of printers. , I think , you can see some in the back behind me actually, we've got about 10 in our roster, 10 different printer types. , really the limitation of our product comes down to the hardware, right? So there's certain things with printers like can it print borderless, can it print duplex, can it print on heavy card material?
There's a variety of factors. And we recommend different printer types based on the solution that customer wants. , with a three pl they can use a printer they already have, or we recommend a printer and they kind of go for a one size fits all solution. , and then for any customers that want a particular type of design or, once something more granular, more in detail, they can source a, printer that can do that.
we send sample packs out to pretty much everyone we speak to send anyone who listens to this one so they can see what it actually looks like. , you'd be surprised, you'd think it'd be on some flimsy paper that doesn't look particularly nice. But no, we can print on card stock. We can print almost as good as a print house where you'd source generic insert.
Claus Lauter: Okay. No, that sounds great. When it comes to the design, , is that something that the marketing department of the merchant needs to provide or do you have templates that people can use and get started quickly?
Dru Carpenter: Sure. , so generally the point of our platform is to add the relevant personalization. It's not necessarily to replace something like Figma or Canva or Photoshop. so we would generally work with their design team to work out the right designs for them. we do have a set of base templates and a set of base things you can do on our platform.
A key use case really. Comes up as like, an obvious one is gift messaging. So a lot of three pls don't offer gift messages, or they might offer it on like a sticker or something that's not very nice, or it might just be printed on the packing slip. so that's a pretty easy solution and that would be kind of our default template or one of them.
, but then we work with their teams , to create the best designs. Ultimately, the platform is there for their design team to add as many templates and as many flows as they wanna.
Claus Lauter: Okay. What kind of homework does a merchant have to do before they can get started? So do they need to think about what kind of flows they wanna set up, or do you give ideas out on how to do.
Dru Carpenter: we give ideas certainly, , so we can share like relevant case studies and what we've seen success with and other things. We can also help them set it up. , again, the platform's pretty easy to use, so it doesn't take much time. , I think the quickest we've had someone get set up is within a day, Really the biggest limitation is the hardware.
So if they don't have the right printer and the right paper, obviously printers can take a while to source, but the actual software element is a couple of clicks to get integrated into say, Shopify. and then you can set up a pretty basic couple of flows and a template and get started really quickly.
Claus Lauter: doing this for a while now. Are there any, , industries or verticals that are preferred for this kind of, , service or solution?
Dru Carpenter: We're relatively new, so obviously , we can't hone it down to necessarily, these are our, fits. but generally the brands we see that are at least inquiring with us, using us, , related to food and drink, jewelry, , cosmetics, supplements, and homeware, , as well as , , pet products , and that kind of stuff as.
Claus Lauter: Okay. What do you see as the, , biggest hurdle or roadblock for merchants, , on deciding on using your solution? Is there anything that stops them from doing this?
Dru Carpenter: , the biggest one still, even though we've, optimized for it quite a lot, is the fulfillment team and the process. That's still the biggest hurdle. again, it's not one that's too difficult to get past most of the time, , but you will get certain three pls that don't wanna look at something like this, don't, aren't interested in, in personalization.
but generally it's not too much of a hurdle. It just , adds time to the onboarding process.
Claus Lauter: If somebody is on omnichannel and selling internationally, , I understand you're in the uk so some sellers, some merchants are selling obviously all over Europe or globally. How would that work in this case? Can you focus on only specific countries and exclude other countries, or how would that work?
Dru Carpenter: We also have a lot of clients in the US as well as Europe. , I spoke to someone about an hour ago that's based in Australia. , so it's quite late for them and fairly early for me. but yeah, really, we can speak to someone anywhere. , again, the biggest issue with different locations is gonna be sourcing the.
, but if they've already got hardware or know of a local printer shop or somewhere that they can source this from, or we can help them look online to source it from, then that's really the only barrier. Other than that, it can all be done online.
Claus Lauter: Okay. You already said implementation is, fairly quick , and rather to be, , quickly done. When it comes to the pricing, what kind of, , pricing is. Of their.
Dru Carpenter: We offer a free tier for, , people wanting to get started. , again, that requires 'em to have their own hardware. We don't source that for them. , it's 200 free prints a month. So say they just wanna use this for gift messaging, or they just wanna use this for a specific use case and they're fulfilling from their garage, they can sign up and set up for free. We then have subscription tiers we've tried to advertise pricing on our website and have it in various buckets. Ultimately, it comes down to do they have the right printer, do they have the right paper? What integrations do they need? What three pl do they work with? , do we charge the three pl?
Do they charge the merchant directly, like. What's the process? So most of the time we, quote on a case by case basis. Generally it's a subscription fee, which gives you use of the platform to do with what you'd like, and we have that free tier available as well.
Claus Lauter: Okay, Sounds great. What kind of calls to actions, , do you recommend for this? , I can imagine there's quite a range of things that you wanna do your customer if they get this delivered to do so. Gimme just a couple of examples that our listeners get an idea on how you can use this kind of inlay of, , flyer in the best possible way.
Dru Carpenter: Sure. , I would say generally that the best way is by dynamic QR codes. , everyone now knows what QR code is. It's personalized to that customer, so they can click it and then you send them to a particular point. We find that like prefilled baskets work really well, or perhaps you have a QR code like hovering next to a product that you've got a product image of that's a product recommendation.
So you link them through to that product. QR codes generally work the best we found. You can have it as like a smaller touchpoint within, , say subscription orders. Say you're sending one of these every month. , you can stage it, right? So you could have a smaller touchpoint for a couple of them and then link them to a QR code or whatever else.
one is discount codes. , so including like a coupon code or something on the slip itself.
Claus Lauter: Okay. How you get feedback from merchants in regards of how it increased their customer lifetime? Or upsells or cross sells after they first purchase.
Dru Carpenter: Yeah, we have a few. , and again, happy to shoot anyone over some case studies on this stuff. , from the clients that have run tests, like typically they see that customers that receive a print are around 15% more likely to make a return purchase than customers that don't. , for subscriptions we've seen.
Around a 30% reduction in churn over six to 12 months. ultimately the results vary by industry and the campaigns that they create, but obviously the platform is set up so that merchants can use it how they'd like to. and yeah, typically once they've set this up and they're getting more and more complicated with the flows, a few months in, they start to see, a bigger upturn results.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Obviously for listeners or a podcast, it's always. tell them how visually something looks like. So I have been to your website and I looked at the examples that you have there, and they give a really good firstname.lastname@example.org, I think it's a good way to start. Where else can people find you or get in contact with you?
Dru Carpenter: Sure. So obviously there's the website. , reach out to me on LinkedIn, Dr. Carpenter, or Twitter, wherever else. We've got phone numbers on our website to get in touch. , we've also got forms to just get a sample pack. , I dunno if I have one I can show you quickly. Obviously there's people. On the podcast that, , listening to this, I won't see them.
but we have like literally just sample packs full of different types of prints. , these are printed on printers either that we have here or one of our other offices. , so we'll send those out , to anyone that's listening to this. , so just feel free to drop us a line on our website, , fill in your address , and then we can get one of these sent out.
Claus Lauter: Okay, sounds great. I will put the links in the show notes. Then you're just one click away. I will say I really like the idea to have a personalized, , message when it arrives and I reckon that there is a ton. Potential for most sellers, for most merchants to improve the customer lifetime value by just doing this.
Thanks so much, Was very insightful, and hope to talk to you
Dru Carpenter: Yeah, no, its at all. Great to speak to
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