Growth wasn’t a problem for Mark Stolten of Flexo, the brainchild behind an innovative extension to children’s construction blocks, Stolten’s business was aimed at transforming blocks such as Lego into fluid structures and shapes.
Stolten stumbled upon the idea for the blocks when he was passing time in a physio looking at charts of the human body. He became fascinated at how the rigid bone structure of the human body was connected by ligaments and tendons to make the body flexible and so Flexo was born. Pulling in the help of his family, Stolten put a Kickstarter video and campaign together to raise the $120,000 capital needed to launch the business. Sponsors were incentivised by being one of the first in the world to experience Flexo.
“The results blew our target out of the water”, Stolten chuckles. They more than doubled their Kickstarter target and received orders for Flexo from around the world, achieving the highest number of pledges of any Kickstarter campaign in New Zealand.
“But then we were left with a new problem – setting up a production line to deliver on 4,800 products in just two months. Half of these had to be created and shipped in the first month. Many of the orders were international, so they had to be shipped before the Christmas deadlines for sending to arrive on time.”
Stolten knew he needed help with logistics, so he set up a meeting with NZ Post.
“The moment NZ Post came, they won our hearts”, says Stolten. “They’re actually this business savvy interface who brought in their connections to specialists that could help start-up companies like me”.
NZ Post sent out their solutions focused team of Account Managers, who listened to Stolten’s business problems and came up with a suite of solutions that went beyond his expectations.
As well as helping him deliver his initial product run on time, they worked together to design packaging that ensured his precious pieces did not break.
To his surprise, a few months later they approached him about being one of the first businesses to test out their online marketplace in the US.
Due for launch soon, this will allow Flexo to access the lucrative US market through NZ Post’s interface on Amazon.com. NZ Post assists with the on-boarding process, putting together Flexo’s inventory listing, pictures, sales management, warehousing, shipping and sales management.
“I don’t want to be a logistics company”, Stolten says. “I want to be creative, innovative – to spend the time on doing the things that will really establish Flexo as one of a kind. Working with NZ Post has allowed me to do this.”
The work with Flexo is part of a broader shift within NZ Post towards a solution oriented, end to end approach to logistics. Account Managers are paired with businesses, and they in turn network with specialists in NZ Post to provide solutions for business challenges.
It’s an innovative approach that has led to developments in the speed of delivery, tracking technology for parcels, and online labelling systems that integrate with business accounting software to save double handling.
It has also seen NZ Post launch initiatives that help Kiwi businesses better access the global online shopping market, which is now an estimated $1.195 trillion worldwide (eMarketer).
NZ Post is taking a much more active role in helping businesses navigate complex trading laws and accessing previously difficult markets.
In the case of Queenstown-based Cookie Time International, this meant working together to create an international delivery solution for Cookie Time's Postcard Cookies - enabling people to send cookies in a postcard box with a personal message anywhere in the world for a fixed low price.
They worked together to ensure that cookies sent overseas were just as fresh as the ones in local dairies, that fast, efficient delivery was available for large numbers of small products sent every day, and that international customs requirements could be met, including the US Food and Drug Administration laws which require a separate approval for each imported food item.
Since 2014, NZ Post have also helped businesses expand into the Chinese market through online marketplaces. The online marketplace allows businesses to avoid the costs of setting up shop alone, and access NZ Post’s end to end supply chain and their knowledge of trading in the region.
NZ Post is holding a You can Grow Business Showcase in Auckland on May 29th and Christchurch on June 12th for people wanting to hear more about logistics partnerships and solutions.
Sessions are relevant to all sizes of business with topics geared for start-ups, small and medium businesses who send domestically or internationally, and large enterprises.
Topics include how you can use shipping as a competitive advantage, enhancing the receiver experience, see how NZ Post’s contract logistics and online fulfilment can help businesses of all sizes focus on core business activity, and how to access international markets including US and China marketplaces.
Designed for busy people, NZ Post have developed a series of short interactive sessions to choose from, over 2 hour periods timed to fit around your day.
Participants will hear from a range of experts and partners from logistics, banking and marketing on how to design their business for growth.
Find out more or register to attend at nzpost.co.nz/youcangrow.