The Amsterdam-based commuter bicycle company VanMoof had a problem. “We struggled to find shipping partners that would give our bikes the same obsessive love and care that we do,” Bex Radford, creative director of the company, wrote on her blog recently. “(But) no matter who was doing the shipping, too many of our bikes arrived looking like they’d been through a metal-munching combine harvester. It was getting expensive for us, and bloody annoying for our customers.”
Despite having popular “brand stores” in Amsterdam, Brooklyn, Taipei and Berlin (along with a distribution network in select bike stores), the company has the goal of selling 90 percent of its bikes online by the year 2020. “Anyone in the e-commerce world will tell you, ‘you’re only as good as your shipping partner,'” wrote Bex.
Even with great products and an awesome website,
nothing matters if the bike you order arrives crushed.
Earlier this year, the company’s co-founder had a “flash of genius,” writes Bex. “Our boxes are about the same size as a (really really reeeaaaaly massive) flatscreen television. Flatscreen televisions always arrive in perfect condition. What if we just printed a flatscreen television on the side of our boxes?”
And just like that, the shipping damage to the company’s bikes dropped by 70–80%.
The company was hoping to keep their shipping trick secret, but the idea was too clever to stay secret for long. People who received the flatscreen TV bicycle boxes couldn’t help but post photos on Instagram and Twitter.
So the secret is out. “Just don’t tell FedEx,” begs Bex.