If you want to get a package from Point A to Point B with a quick redirection to Point C, a startup in Ireland may be your answer.
Scurri provides logistical support to e-commerce sites as they ship parcels to customers. What may seem effortless to you and I takes a lot of back-end technology.
The company recently moved into a new space in Wexford, giving the company of about 25 people space to house 50 people. CEO and founder Rory O’Connor says that’s no accident. They plan to expand to meet the growing demand of e-commerce shipping.
Speaking at Uprise Festival in Dublin, O’Connor talked about his company’s major pivot and how hiring a Chief Financial Officer was the best decision they made.
In an interview with Dublin Globe, O’Connor discusses his plans for the company as well as the major challenges he sees in the retail and e-commerce sectors amidst Brexit…
Dublin Globe: What can we expect to see happen in the retail and e-commerce industry in the near future?
O’Connor: Traditional retail is in flux. E-commerce is growing strongly. People like my mum and dad who can barely open a computer are buying things online now. The whole world is buying online. That has changed retail, but the essence of someone buying is kind of similar still. You choose a good, you make a payment and you get it. Obviously, the gap of getting it is different when you buy over the shelf instead of online.
Closing that gap [between traditional retail and online stores] in terms of removing friction and giving customers the ability to get their goods in the way they want it is imperative.
It could be a week’s time because they don’t care with something cheap, or they may want it tomorrow because they’re going to an event and want a new shirt. They may want it convenient, perhaps pick it up at the train station on the way home. There’s lots of different options at the same customer might require depending on the context of the buying occasion.
That’s easy for the customer to say, but actually the logistics of linking that all up together is really really difficult. That’s all we do. We take all that hassle plugging them all into a simple one single API, so then the customer can plug in that API so they can use something like Parcel Motel, they can get it in with a rapid delivery or a four-day cheap delivery. Amazon has been driving that huge change in the logistics, because they provide it all with Amazon Prime, local Amazon drop off and lockers.
Dublin Globe: So SME’s have been a big part of your customer base, especially in the United Kingdom. Talk to me about how Brexit will impact you.
O’Connor: We are kind of in a unique position because of Brexit. We work with a lot of U.K. companies that ship into Ireland. The drop in Sterling price means that there are more goods being bought in the U.K., so the volume has gone up for us. The real advantage for us is that we provide customs documentation in our programme. For outside the European Union, if you’re shipping as a merchant, it automatically works out customs documents. All we have to do is flip a switch for the U.K. customers when they leave. They will be compliant. We have a big competitive advantage.
Dublin Globe: For retailers and e-commerce sites, what is the impact of Brexit?
O’Connor: At the moment, the uncertainty is the terrible thing. I’m talking with merchants. They say, “we can’t act because we really don’t know.” There’s going to be a Brexit, but will it be hard or soft? Will there be borders or not? Will documentation be required? We don’t know. That’s the thing that’s driving them crazy. They know something is going to happen, but they can’t plan for what they don’t know. That is the big issue in that marketplace.
Dublin Globe: What advice would you give to those merchants and businesses?
O’Connor: On your shipping side, we can we can solve that. I think you’ve got to think obviously about currency hedging. Enterprise Ireland are doing quite a lot of work for Irish merchants or people from Ireland impacted. There are workshops. I have to give it to the Government and the banks: there has been a lot of help. We’ve been to several. The big problem is that nobody knows what’s going to happen.
Dublin Globe: Take me through the story that got Scurri to this point?
O’Connor: My original concept was really to become an aggregator for shipping. We wanted to provide a consumer a one-stop-shop. To ship a parcel, to ship a boat, or whatever: each of those types of delivery mechanism are different and disparate, and there’s no one place to get them all together. As a consumer, you think that’s easy to do. I thought having a little bit of the industry this might be easy, but actually when we got into it, it got a lot more difficult. Each of those separate subsections of the delivery is different. A truck you need for a boat is obviously different from a parcel. The technology that’s used for each of them are different too.
We started to do more and more parcels. We realised that knitting that infrastructure together was actually quite difficult for a merchants to use. We had number merchants approach us and say, “we’re not interested in what you’re doing this service but your technology could you plug us in?” It took a lot longer and a lot more cash to realise that we were meant to be a B2B company.
— Scurri (@scurri) November 1, 2017
Dublin Globe: You just moved into a new facility in Wexford, so you’re expecting growth?
O’Connor: We are expecting great growth. Among our top 10 customers, the one growing the slowest is growing at 50%. Some are growing at 200%-300%. E-commerce is growing fast, and the type of e-commerce merchant we attract is more prepared. They tend to be beating the market average. So our annual recurring revenue growth for the last 12 months was 151%. We’re going to double our team over the next 18 months. We’re going to focus on the U.K. market because there’s huge potential there. We have one very big global retailer who doesn’t allow us to say who it is. They are driving a huge amount of volume on top of our SME growth.
The first few years we were working it out. In 2013, we printed our first label. That’s the revolution of Scurri, and it’s been phenomenal growth since.
Dublin Globe: What advice would you give to other startups?
O’Connor: You’ve got to balance. You have to have passion and determination. You got a balance that with reality. You can follow your dreams too far. You really want to make it work, and sometimes you may be able to make it work. At the end of the day, sometimes you gotta sit back and say this original model has something in it but it’s not quite working. If we realised this earlier and tweaked it, we would have probably saved a year or two… and maybe allow me to have a little more hair.