As is often the case, the best ideas are born out of necessity. After the founders of Online Plastics Group discovered in 2014 that ordering plastic sheeting online turned out to be 'rocket science', they resolved to make it easier. With success, by now the Online Plastics Group counts 10 webshops in 6 countries. E-commerce manager Max Bisseling talks about the scalable international expansion and the role that outsourcing of the customer service to Salesupply played in this.
Simplicity and scalability above all
Whereas simplicity formed the basis for the creation of the Online Plastics Group, scalability was ultimately the key to international growth. "With Kunststofplatenshop.nl, we made it very easy for our customers to select the right material and then order the exact measurements," explains Max Bisseling. "We expanded cross-border in 2016 with a German webshop, Kunststoffplattenonline.de. We still had in-house customer service for both countries back then. Covering peak periods and sick leaves was a challenge for the German customer service department in particular."
"We came into contact with Salesupply and we were impressed by the scalability of their international customer care solution. In order to make the most of this solution, we took a critical look at our own business model. At that time, customers could order plastic sheeting in any size and shape from us, and - with the international growth that we were envisioning - this model just wasn't scalable enough. We therefore decided to standardise our range to only include square sheeting." Since then, the number of shapes has been further expanded, as the arrival of the plate configurator makes it really easy to configure sheeting to the desired specifications, even self-designed DXF formats are possible.
External customer service quality assurance
"We have standardised our processes as much as possible, but in-depth knowledge of our products and services is, of course, still extremely important. Just like an internal customer service department, external agents also need to be trained," Max explains. "In addition to the regular introductory training and the wiki that we set up together with Salesupply, we also developed a special e-learning course with all the information that the Salesupply call centre agents need to optimally serve our customers. This way, new employees can quickly get started on our customer support team."
COVID and the demand for plastic sheeting
The importance of being able to quickly scale up new agents was demonstrated in 2020. At the end of March 2020, Online Plastics Group launched several solutions to provide protection against COVID, including the cough screen. "The number of orders kept on rising," Max recalls. “At that point, the amount of customer requests could no longer be kept up with under the normal staffing levels. So, together with Salesupply, we quickly responded to this unexpected development by expanding the team."
"Our ambition is to become the market leader in Europe within 3-5 years. We are already in the top three in a lot of countries, so we're going to further strengthen our position there. In addition, we will continue to expand internationally in order to gradually conquer Europe" Max says with enthusiasm.