FROM CARDS TO SHIP­PING BOXES

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Run­ning an ever-es­ca­lat­ing se­ries of stunts has taught the ac­ci­den­tal en­trepreneurs a thing or two about lo­gis­tics. Their an­nual hol­i­day pro­mo­tions are sub­scrip­tion-based, with cus­tomers sign­ing up to re­ceive a se­ries of ran­dom sur­prises. Some of these sur­prises in­clude spe­cial vir­tual events that have in­volved ev­ery­thing from buy­ing a cas­tle in Ire­land and declar­ing 150,000 peo­ple ‘king’, to fig­ur­ing out how to buy a pri­vate is­land and di­vid­ing the ti­tle among 250,000 cus­tomers.

De­spite pulling off some out­ra­geous feats of or­gan­i­sa­tional dex­ter­ity, it’s the mail-outs (real, not vir­tual ones) that were caus­ing the most headaches for the founders. Ne­go­ti­at­ing de­tails with var­i­ous ship­ping com­pa­nies was be­com­ing a night­mare.

The com­pany also wanted to con­trol the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence at ev­ery stage in the process – something they couldn’t do with out­sourced mail­ing ful­fil­ment.

“If you go to Ama­zon to buy our game, you’re an Ama­zon cus­tomer, which is fine,” says Dan. “But we’ve got a brand that we care a lot about. We like to make jokes dur­ing the check-out ex­pe­ri­ence. Let’s say we get the idea to put something in the box with each prod­uct. There’s no way to do that if you’re work­ing with Ama­zon.”

To solve the prob­lem, they started a side project, Black­box – a ship­ping com­pany for in­de­pen­dent artists that al­lows senders to eas­ily (and cost-ef­fec­tively) cus­tomise pack­ag­ing and in­serts.

Black­box launched in Au­gust, 2016, with an­other stunt – the launch of their OK Cookie Com­pany, which was boxes of for­tune cook­ies con­tain­ing de­press­ing for­tunes such as, ‘It’s too late to stop cli­mate change’ and ‘You will prob­a­bly die of a heart at­tack or something’.

The bulk of Black­box cus­tomers are game de­sign­ers grap­pling with the ins and outs of Kick­starter prod­uct de­liv­ery. Their first client was Ex­plod­ing Kit­tens – a com­i­cal game that in­volves cats on cards ‘blow­ing up’ – holds the hon­our of most-backed Kick­starter of all time, with nearly 220,000 fun­ders.

Black­box also han­dles the com­plex­i­ties of Cards Against Hu­man­ity’s hol­i­day cam­paigns – which is no easy job.

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