“Effortlessly the best result” is the promise that Pinkcube gives its customers. The web-based agency was one of the industry pioneers in the Internet business and keeps on setting benchmarks in the field of promotional products eCommerce.
At present there is a lot of talk about the digital change that has hit the promotional products industry. It would be unprecise to say that this change has already completely taken place at Pinkcube, since the company has been exclusively digitally-oriented from the very onset. A warehouse – even just for samples – is nowhere to be found at the company’s offices in Doetinchem, nor is a showroom. This is however where 25 employees are employed, just over half of whom work in the Marketing, Development and Design department, the rest are responsible for sales and finance. “Pinkcube was born out of frustration,” the company founder and owner, Edwin Kats, explained. “Ten years ago I had a web agency and we often needed promotional products. However, ordering them was laborious – one had to wade through complicated catalogues, the price structures and product details were unclear, it was time-consuming. I thought to myself there must be an easier way of going about this.” In 2009, the first two shops went online – for lip care sticks and sports bottles – a year later the young company already hosted 50 product-specific online shops. The fast growth continued and with it came several distinctions: The Dutch financial newspaper Financiele Dagblad has already presented Pinkcube with the FD Gazelle three times in its capacity as a particularly fast-growing company, the firm has been nominated for the Deloitte Fast 50 twice, it picked up the PromZ Award for the “Best Online Performance” two times and the High Growth Award from Port4Growth once. In 2015, Pinkcube moved into its present premises. In the meantime, the agency makes an annual turnover of around 10 mil. Euros. Since September 2016, all of the individual shops have been bundled under the address www.pinkcube.nl in the sense of a one-domain strategy.
State of the art shop
“Moeiteloos het mooiste resultaat” – “effortlessly the best result”: The slogan that was introduced in 2016 epitomises the company’s strategy. Because Pinkcube offers a shop model that allows the customer to not only order individualised haptic advertising messengers in just a few clicks, he also receives information on the products and warehouse stocks as well as the delivery status reports in real-time. In short: Exactly the same services are provided that the online giants like Amazon or Zalando demonstrated as role models. Pinkcube combines this B2C-style shopping experience with a web-to-print mechanism, including digital samples and pre-press. This is made possible by an architecture that seamlessly links the web shop to the own CRM and to the systems of the supplier partners. “We are one of the fastest in the industry, because we develop and manage everything ourselves,” explained Bas Prinsen, Team Leader Development. “It wouldn’t work for us to fall back on external software, because we wouldn’t be able to obtain anywhere near the same quality. So far, we have made more than 10,000 improvements to the web shop, the development is an ongoing process.” Of course, the customers only see the user interface and here Pinkcube invests a lot of time and expense in order to guarantee the highest level of user-friendliness possible. “We only call up the article numbers, prices and product data from the suppliers, we generate the photos and texts ourselves,” commented Ronald Cuperus, Team Leader Online Marketing. “In addition to the photos we also post video loops on the products, furthermore the customer can compare the advantages and disadvantages of different articles using a comparison tool. Since 2015, our design has been completely responsive, because in the meantime around one fifth of the orders are transacted from a mobile end device.”
“We try to design the shop as intuitively as possible,” added Prinsen. “That is also why the user is not flooded with products, but instead receives a good selection.” If the customer changes a volume or colour, he is provided with the updated sliding-scale prices within seconds and information on the availability is displayed. “This is only possible because we are seamlessly linked to the ERP systems of our supplier partners,” said Kats. “Customers that have selected a product, can subsequently upload their logo. A jpg suffices, we vectorise the data and send a digital sample back for approval within 15 minutes. If the customer ultimately places the order, his data – including the credit standing – is checked within seconds and the order is picked and packed at the suppliers within one hour.”
There the processes are fully-automatic too, including also the printing process. “It is logical that many suppliers are interested in being listed in our shop,” commented Kats. “However, we work together with only a relatively small group of suppliers, because of course they have to fulfil our requirements regarding the ability to deliver and the speed.” All internal and external processes are transparent and can be called up at all times, each employees can see immediately at which stage each order is at and what his colleagues are doing at that given moment. In this way, Pinkcube can not only permanently monitor and optimise its own capacity, but also react to questions and problems fast. “Of course, our team can also be reached per telephone,” stated Cuperus, “however most of the customers prefer the purely digital channel, because they like things to be as uncomplicated as possible.” Kats added: “Our typical customers are small companies that order frequently and in low volumes. We don’t offer a classic full-service and we rarely provide complicated custom-made designs. However, it does occur that big companies, who work together with full-service agencies, order items from us if the order has to be processed fast. Because our system is almost unbeatable.”
// Till Barth
photos: Till Barth, © WA Media (1); Pinkcube (3)