How to create a new market from scratch: the Leapp case by Linda Blijenberg
Pioneering, that is what every entrepreneur dreams of, right? Leapp is doing exactly that for several years already: the company is the katalyst and market leader on the budding Dutch refurbishment market. When they started there was no infrastructure to speak of, and nobody knew what refurbishment was.
Figuring everything out from scratch
Chief Digital Officer Martijn Cornelissen: “ We were the first in the Netherlands to do something with refurbishment, so we had to figure everything out ourselves. Where do you get used smartphones and tablets? Who is going to do the refurbishing? And how do you find potential customers, when you first have to explain to everybody what refurbishment is? There were hardly any standard solutions available, everything was new.” As soon as it hit home with consumers – fine quality Apple gadgets, for a lot less than the original price, and more sustainable to boot! – Leapp grew exponentially.
As soon as it hit home with consumers – fine quality Apple gadgets, for a lot less than the original price, and more sustainable to boot! – Leapp grew exponentially. To win customer trust Leapp offered a solid warranty on their products. Setting up brick & mortar stores, in addition to the webshop, was also a successful move. “Customers wanted to see what a device looked like before they bought it. Understandable, because we were the first to offer second-hand devices in this manner. People still had to get used to it.”
The company’s success did come with a few hiccups. Leapp chose to put all their cards on growth, and accept the accompanying low profit margins for the time being. That way the company could invest in keeping their position as market leader and stay ahead of the competition. The strategy worked well, until their largest investor pulled back. Finding a new shareholder took longer than desired, which pushed Leapp into trouble.
Martijn: “At that point Leapp more or less grew itself to pieces, became a victim of its own success.” Luckily, following a bankruptcy halfway 2018, the company could restart with a new financial backer. To ensure consumer trust, Leapp decided to continue honouring the warranties given out before the bankruptcy: quite unusual, but a strong message to its many customers.
Switch to Shopify Plus
The relaunch was also a good moment to reassess the company’s business processes, in particular its IT infrastructure. Martijn was very much in favour of making a switch to a standardized eCommerce platform. Leapp’s webshop ran on a self-built system at the time, which frequently made things complicated. “When you’re operating on such a young market there is already enough to figure out. As a company you don’t really want to waste time and resources on things like software. It’s important to keep things simple at a few crucial points, otherwise it just becomes too much.”
Some more functions we will add
What Leapp needed was an enterprise eCommerce platform which had already proven its value conclusively, which continuously updated itself, and which excelled at scalability. “If you want to scale up quickly a standard platform is simply the best choice.”
Even before the bankruptcy Martijn had been in touch with CODE about the possibilities of Shopify Plus. The POS (Point-of-sale) checkout system in particular was interesting for Leapp: it made the integration of the whole ecosystem of webshop and stores possible, with individual accounts for employees and at customer service. A must for a fast growing company with 50+ employees and a revenue of several million euros!
"If you want to scale up quickly a standard platform is simply the best choice."
- Martijn Cornelissen, CDO Leapp
Building the new infrastructure was a joint project of Leapp and Code. Martijn was quite pleased with it: “Code did the data migration and the templates and gave a lot of useful tips and advice, but we were also able to do a lot ourselves. In the end we needed about 8 to 10 sprints to go live.”
The new webshop was launched at the end of March 2019. Does Martijn already see the difference? “Certainly! I am very contented so far! Not that we’re making twice as much profit all of a sudden, it’s primarily Shopify Plus’ user-friendliness that improves things. It saves so much time. Whenever there’s a challenge we have a look around in the Shopify app store and we can usually fix it quickly. And if we want something we can’t do ourselves, we call Code.”