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E122: Douglas Franklin

Deliver a Better Customer Experience With Personalised Packaging At The Point of Unboxing With Penny Black

Douglas Franklin

Podcast Overview

Imagine if you could run a campaign that has a 100% open rate? You can. Everyone that orders from you opens their delivery and boy what an opportunity this gives you!

This new and innovative way of thinking is already getting adopted by some of the best brands in the UK and it’s time you do too. 

Personalised packaging that delights the unboxing experience to increase sales and customer retention is just one knock at the door away.

Douglas shares how in this week’s podcast. 

eCom@One Presents:

Douglas Franklin

Douglas Franklin is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Penny Black, a company that connects customers and brands at the point of unboxing. They create memorable moments that build customer loyalty with eCommerce stores such as Paul Valentine. 

In this podcast, Douglas shares how companies can deliver a better customer experience with personalised packaging, the mission behind Penny Black and what companies are doing wrong. He shares his top tips for getting customers to share the unboxing experience. 

Find out how to use a loyalty scheme to improve the packaging experience to influence your customers and what brands have had a successful experience with Penny Black!

Topics Covered 

2:02 – How Douglas joined the eCommerce world 

4:54 – The mission behind Penny Black 

13:25 – What companies are doing wrong with packaging 

19:20 – How can a company utilise a loyalty scheme to improve packaging experience 

23:13 – How packaging influences customer retention 

26:00 – Tops tips to get your customers to share the packaging experience 

29:40 – Brands that have had a successful experience with Penny Black

34:30 – What does the future hold for the world of packaging 

37:50 – Book Recommendation

Richard:
Hi, and welcome to another episode of eCommerce One. Today's guest, Doug Franklin, founder and chief executive officer at Penny Black. How you doing, Doug?

Doug Franklin:
Hey Richard. Doing very well and genuinely excited to be here with you today.

Richard:
Yes. It's going to be a cracker. I know it is. I know it is. It's something I'm very, very, very much interested in. Something we talk about a lot in our household, let alone our agencies and whatnot. Myself and Doug, we met probably about, several months ago at the RX, an expo that we refer to a lot here in the UK. We get meet a lot of our partners and quite a lot of our partners have been on the podcast, but I know we've been liaising with you for about three or four months now, Doug, to get you on. Great to finally have you on. How's things going?

Doug Franklin:
Very, very good. Just back from a summer holiday so I'm feeling really, really refreshed and ready get stuck back into things.

Richard:
Brilliant. I think it would be good to kick off and tell our listeners how you got into the world of eCommerce and how you ended up at Penny Black.

Doug Franklin:
Interesting story I think, because my background isn't eCommerce at all. I actually come from financial services. But one of the things I was always taught is never walk past a problem. And during the pandemic I uncovered a problem that I wanted to work on. And one thing that we all know is e-com boomed over the period we were all in lockdown as people got shopping online and me being one of those people and what would happen is I'd go on, I'd be attracted to these brands by the great stuff they were doing online, really being able to target me and personalize my online experience that felt great, felt like I was having some connectivity. I would buy something and then the next moment would happen, the postman would ring the doorbell and that was quite a highlight for the day.
Some human contact that was just another person that weren't the people you were living with at the time. And I love my family, but someone, a new face was welcome. I would get my package and I would open it and was at that moment I'd feel a bit underwhelmed. I would get this package and my product would be there, but something was missing. I was looking at this package and going, "This just doesn't feel right." I feel like all that connection, that personalization that was happening for me to make the purchase to go to that digital journey was almost lost at this point. I almost felt a bit underwhelmed and that got me really interested in the way eCommerce brands could deliver better customer service and customer experience at their moment of unboxing.

Richard:
I think interested that when you said about that during that peak of lockdown, literally it was like you got your family and then you got the delivery drivers. They were the only people you saw for many months give and take. Wasn't it? They became your new friends. Hey, it's me again. Literally. Obviously we all, I think, pretty much ordered more than ever, but like you say, you spent all that time making that decision of buying X, Y, Z and then it arrives and possibly just a brown box. It's just like, "Okay, okay, it's not that exciting." Excitement's over. The credit cards done it's work. Here's the thing. But that initial positive experience is dwindling, isn't it? And then the plain box arrives and then it's like, "Okay." But at least you said hello to your driver, your newfound friend.

Doug Franklin:
Exactly.

Richard:
Penny Black obviously alleviates, helps bridge that gap. Tell us more about that.

Doug Franklin:
Exactly. What we do at Penny Black is we allow brands to take that digital personalization that they striving for online and put it physically into the hands of their customers. What we are allowing brands to do at the moment is create these personalized inserts that have the same personalization capabilities as a Klaviyo email. Think about it like that. The same level of sophistication as a Klaviyo email and deliver it to them at the moment they open their box. Instead of this boring brown box with those A4 pieces of white paper that get chucked in, you're now opening a box that's talking to you that's well designed, got good creative and like I say, it's almost like a one on one conversation with whoever's opening the box. And that's what it does at the top level.
And then the way it works, you've got to think about it. This isn't a print service. Printing's part of what makes the product work. But you've got to think about this more like you think about your email marketing tools. What Penny Black does is it pulls in data from all the key sources that you would use to segment your customers, whether it be Shopify, Klaviyo, any other CRMM tools you are using. It brings this data in, it creates this, we've got a personalization engine where you can then create your segments, your campaigns, create your designs and that sets a scene and you start to automate all those campaigns the same way as you automate email marketing campaigns in the platform. And these campaigns can be about anything. It can be discounts for new customers, review requests, VIP content, how to, a huge variety of different campaigns can be communicated through these inserts that you create.
But most importantly, what these inserts have is a QR code. Well designed, personalized now there's this QR code that when scanned brings the customer back into the online journey so that's how the front and how our marketers and brands would think about it. In the background, of course Penny Black are experts in printing and performance operations, but we take care of all of that. People always think, "This sounds complicated." But the expertise that we've built up is actually we set up printers in the fulfillment centers and it just means when the order's getting packed at the packing lane, these personalized inserts with your codes are coming out. It's as simple as that. And what we found is really exciting is that these campaigns are actually performing better than other post post-purchase channels. 100% open rates because everyone opens their package.
Everyone's getting a quiet moment but the stats that are blowing us away at the moment is the conversion rates. We've seen conversion rates of about 20% on these flyers and I think a really killer step that we're talking about at the moment for one of our customers is I think for every insert they've sent in the last 12 months they've made one pound 50 in revenue. That's really, really exciting. Those are the top line stats, but then also equally what's really exciting about what we do is what we seen is Penny Black's able to extend the attribution period that brands can generate through their post-purchase marketing. Because these things are personalized and well designed, people actually keeping them on their desks or on their fridges and going back to them. What we are seeing is people still engaging with these communications and these inserts up to a month plus after it's been sent. An exciting time and that's what we do. Those are results we're seeing and you can tell obviously I'm being a bit animated but while we are so excited about it too.

Richard:
Just listening to you, my mind's just going... God, it is. I find it so exciting as well. As I think a lot of our listeners and you alluded to during lockdown bought probably a bit more than I should have done. I had to have a little word with myself this year just to completely calm that down and that's for another episode I think. But also I subscribe to quite a lot of subscription services, subscription eCommerce over lockdown. Coffee being, I've talked about that in quite a few episodes now, but when my coffee delivery comes and I've got different ones arrive... Right at the beginning I bought a fancy pants coffee machine with the grind, the proper beans and whatnot and various other things for the kitchen like I think most of us did, quite a few of us did.
But the coffee, oh unbelievable. And some of these guys that I'm buying products off, they're doing it so well and a part of that is this personalized packaging and this personalized messaging that's coming to me whether some I've got set up on a four week cycle, some I've got set up on a six, eight week cycle, I think the six or eight week cycle. But some of these brands, I found them what, two and a half, three years ago. It was two and a half years ago when the pandemic started and I'm still getting my delivery now. And a big part of that, I'm an absolute coffee fiend, but it is this personalized piece. I open it up and it's Richard and then it's talking very specifically about the personalized piece around the family of the growers of that particular beam that week, that month.
You can QR code after that as well. And I think some of the brands and some of the things that I've encountered then obviously I know are some of our clients do that retention piece for subscription has been huge. Huge, huge, huge. And I think when you mentioned some of the examples, I think obviously we've got a lot of different listeners whether that's selling a coffee or whether that's selling settees, there's a potential use case for personalized packaging for all of you guys listening right now.
I was sat in my office just before I went away a couple weeks ago with one of our clients and started talking about Penny Black and you could just see his mind go, "Oh my god." And he sells baby clothes and that's somebody that I'll introduce you to, Doug, after the podcast thing. But he is selling obviously baby clothes to new parents, when we got the baby's name potentially when the baby's born can do with that packaging and that messaging and those very specific segments. We've got a lot of listeners that are semi obsessed with Klaviyo for example as we are here and the level of detail that you can do with Klaviyo, obviously you can use those segments and those to the different segments from those flows and things to develop the messaging and the packaging.

Doug Franklin:
And that's exactly right. We obviously integrate with Klaviyo and it's really exciting because you can use those segments and almost getting that we don't see Penny Black as a you've got to use Penny black where you've got to use email, you've got to use text, it's part of the stack and that's how you're doing. Because some people are going to like receiving emails and they'll all respond to texts but other people are. We're seeing this ongoing trend. This move towards people enjoying something more physical. What you're doing is you're optimizing because you're not reinventing the wheel, you can use those segments but you can optimize it to give yourself a better post-purchase experience to those customers.

Richard:
I think a lot of it boils down to this lifetime value ultimately that of the cost of that first acquisition. We've done various episodes on an acquisition but ultimately lifetime value is so important. I think still so many merchants still wrapped up on acquisition. But hang on a minute, if you've got 200,000 customers, the company I'm talking about that was in a couple of three weeks together, they got 130,000 recent customers in the last 12 months I think it is.
And wow, some of the things we're doing with them recently, it's free money. Whereas if you just send in plain box packaging to these people then they're thinking of shall we reorder something for our child? Or you're not front and center of mind if you just sent them a white box. Listen to you, I would say what you're saying is that potentially quite a lot of companies are getting their packaging the way they're packaging, the way they're potentially probably not even messaging in the packaging, they're getting it wrong. What would you say companies are doing wrong and how can they address that and what would be some potential next steps?

Doug Franklin:
That's a great question Richard. I think at the top level, it varies. There's varying. Some brands are innovating in the packaging space and I think what we've seen is they are cool packaging designs. We've seen a lot of innovation in that way. But I think what people... But that's more geared towards I guess more the branding, which is important. But I think what people have got to start seeing with packaging is don't view it as a cost center. See this as something that can actually drive revenue for you and therefore a crucial investment as part of your retention or your marketing strategy. That's something that once was a cost that you think this is a cost actually hang on, I can use a marketing channel to bring money back into my business, help me retain, help me grow. That's the one aspect of it.
And then on the flip side, there's also like I say, some brands are doing packaging well. I think what we're seeing is where they're doing their packaging really well. There is some affiliation with that brand where they're doing packaging well. It's a nice unboxing experience but what I've actually seen even with it even at the top where brands are really investing in their packaging, it's still learned right at the end by this just generic delivery note that goes in.
It drives me mad, these delivery notes that go in because I can't even tell you. I won't name the brand super premium, super, super premium this brand, the amount of packing that goes into it is crazy. It's rubber seals and stuff. And then the last thing that happens is this A4 piece of paper, you're like, "What a waste. You've just gone in and wasted. Incrementally then imagine just that with the incrementally a well designed thing personalized that sits on top, that's what makes that impact and is going to take that packaging from being a cost into a real direct revenue driver so you're going to get those two impacts now a great brand experience and then some direct marketing that you're going to be constructing.

Richard:
It is so frustrating. You buy that premium product and you just open a brown box, it's just sat there. You think of all the steps that's gone to get from building... The hundreds of steps literally to get from you from establishing that brand, getting that brand in front of you to go into the website to possibly hundreds of people so forth. And that last bit before that tape goes on the box is the point really where brand is ultimately they've passed that. They could be done at that point. They've got an opportunity and they're just not taking that opportunity to just add in that extra experience. Just simple things I find. The way that you open the box and like you say it's just stuff full of whether it's the air pack. I used to have it in my e-com business many, many years ago. That air machine you plug in the wall and then you buy a reel and you would pump that full and it would fill a room basically with packaging and then the paper and stuff.
But come on guys have a word with yourselves because the opportunity to open that box and just a wow and maybe it doesn't have to be at the extremes to start with just a well branded A4 piece of paper and it's just packaged out... A little bit thought more thoughts going into that packaging internal inside the box. Obviously then we can think personalization. With the personalization side of things with you guys, something that's on my mind is, I think you mentioned if you've got your products a fulfillment company, that fulfillment company would then potentially have the mechanism and the technology and the particular printers et. cetera to print the personalized. But what if you don't use fulfillment centers? Can you have the tech at your own warehouse?

Doug Franklin:
Yeah. We're agnostic to the type of fulfillment centers we can work with. Our fulfillment partners at the moment range from global players like a Radial, who I don't know if you're familiar with, but they operate across the US and global player with some more startup fulfillments with some tech enable fulfillments and companies or brands using their own in-house fulfillment. We are agnostic to that. The process and technology we use enables you to set it up in any kind of fulfillment environment and it's quite quick. I think it's less than a day's worth of implementation effort and learning.

Richard:
I'm just thinking for some of our customers and some of our listeners that maybe moreso don't use fulfillments, companies they've got their own, their own 5,000, 10,000, 20 whatever it may be, square foot warehouse, they would then need to invest in some of the printing technology et cetera that would be needed to print the boxes.

Doug Franklin:
We own the printing technology and they would need to visit that. The way our business works is it's a straightforward subscription model which we will price based on volumes but there's no upfront investment in technology, in the technology or implementation. Manage all of that.

Richard:
Brilliant. It's getting better and better, isn't it? We talk about loyalty schemes quite a lot on the podcast. Something that, again when we're thinking about this lifetime value of customers and enticing customers to come back and give them incentives et cetera. But how can a company use their loyalty scheme to improve their packaging experience or vice versa?

Doug Franklin:
Great question. I think maybe what I can do is just talk about what some of the brands we work with, what they're doing and where we're seeing results. I think the first type of use case where we've seen the people using loyalty scheme as part of the Penny Black stack is just communicating to customers that they have points waiting for them when they've purchased. You just purchased something. Hey Richard, you pick it up, these are the points waiting for you and then also discounts if you act on those points. One of the examples we've seen of people using Penny Black to promote loyalty, the other one is of course is if they could take any value adding actions to increase loyalty. Leaving review, referring a friend, you get additional points so if you're taking those value adding actions that pulls up. Those are at the moment the types of cases we see.

Richard:
Encouraging them to... Making them aware that you're only points off the platinum account. But did you know if you refer one friend to wherever their particular referral incentive is? Just making them aware it's there, making them aware that next step, you are here. Just a little bit here and then you can get your VIP access to a sale thing or whatever it may be.

Doug Franklin:
And it's quite nice to communicate that in terms of personally because everyone will be different so it won't feel like a generic flyer you're getting where if you pre-print then everyone will have three little medals or three ticks. No you've made three approaches or four purchase, it's personalized so it's more real. It's real time and it's in their physical format, they put it up on their fridge, they scan it where they want to make the next purchase, it reminds them. It's a constant reminder. And then other cool thing that we seeing is where you set up your segments based on loyalty and that if someone's, let's say, fourth purchase or fifth purchase, what could be quite cool we play with now is actually where... Rather than at the moment I think you've seen sometimes in fulfillment processes where they just chuck something into the box.
There's a neat tool now where actually the print will come out which will tell you that this is a fifth time customer, therefore you know to put something additional into a box like a new sample or something like that. And that's cool because you start differentiating on tiers there. You are someone who's made five purchase as a gold member, that sample now gets put in or something like that. Having that connection so what fulfillment can actually see happening at the same time it is quite cool. We're seeing a lot of interest in.

Richard:
I love it. I think loyalty programs we talk about a lot. We've got a couple of episodes coming up as well but something that it just goes hand in hand this whole personalization piece and I think that's very much the reason why I still very much have quite probably one or two many, two subscriptions still because just get to that next tier, just get to that next tier.
But I think it's very surprising to the people that are listening right now that don't have a loyalty scheme in place and how using a loyalty scheme and then incorporating into that personalized packaging and obviously we talk about all sorts of different things on different episodes but that lifetime value, it's absolutely critical. I think those of you that are listening and I imagine you're probably sitting there thinking, "Actually yeah we're not doing that." Then reach out to the team here and we'll point you in the right direction with various partners, our different tech partners. Why would you say then that packaging really influences customer retention? I know we've touched on it a lot but it's so important, isn't it? What else would you say on that?

Doug Franklin:
Yeah. If you go back many years now, I guess, what people used to do was go into a store, that's what people would do. They go into a store and the stores they would keep going to are the stores that would know that you're Richard, they know that you were there last week and they know what you bought last week was this. They know who you are, they know what you've bought, they know what you want to do next. That's what they do. That's what it used to be. The world has changed so for most DTC brands now the packaging, that unboxing moment is the first and only physical contact they're going to have. It's almost replacing that in store moment and that's why it is so important I think for them to get this right. You don't have your store anymore, you need to find a way to replicate that. Best way to replicate, the only physical contact you're going to have is with your package. Use that to replicate that experience.

Richard:
I think that's makes complete sense, doesn't it? I think about the handful of stores that I regularly go to, not probably 100, 200 yards from here and I walk in there, those guys know me, they're like, "Hey Richard, how you doing?" Maybe the odd clothes shop and whatnot that I've been going to for 25 years and then I go back in. They're good, they sell good clothes but so do another 20 shops in town and I go back in because that personal attention, "How you doing?" They know specific things about me that they'll be, "Yeah." I'm a big guy. I might not look it on here but I'm six foot seven. Obviously, we have met. I'm a big fella so just in the e-com world that personalization on the site around getting personalized recommendations around my size, which is obviously fairly straightforward nowadays.
But then when you get the packaging and it's mentioning things around my personal account, whether that's where I am with the loyalty system, it absolutely makes sense, doesn't it? Absolutely makes sense. It's just replicating that in a fashion. Brilliant. We've got the box and we've got this personalized box that's come through and I know when my coffee deliveries arrive it's like, "Oh." It's an exciting thing. But I never feel that... Believe it or not, I'm quite a private guy when it comes to my private life so when I get these packages I'm not one for videoing them and putting them on my personal profiles. But what would you say to merchants that are listening in that are trying to encourage their buyers to share more, these experiences of unboxing and good unboxing experiences? What would you say to the merchants that are trying to get more user generated content around that?

Doug Franklin:
Probably two things. One of the things we always advise our brands actually when we speak to brands and start working with them is just having a Penny Black insert and having really bad packaging, you're not going to get people sharing your unboxing moment. The first bit is having harmonization. It doesn't have to be boxes made out of platinum but a good design on your packaging. But it's all about the design and thinking about it like a collective unboxing experience, now you've got your good design and that's surprising and delighting them with the messaging and the thoughtfulness and the speed at which it comes because sometimes what we've seen where people have done it, they can't believe that they placed an order at 11:00 PM on Saturday and by midday on Sunday it's arrived and it's personalized and it's got all this. I think the speed at which it's done and the overall unboxing experience is one thing they need to think about and how they want to push that.
And that's where Penny Black steps in because you can have a good design and then upping that ante, that wow moment is what does it. But what we see work really well and what we see people now, the first thing is people are variable in terms of what they'll want to share, but the design and creative that goes into it, the artwork and the making it look nice, not just like generic flyer, helps for sharing and that's actually where we've seen the brand we're working with, they did it really well.It actually looked like just a little thank you card was this great A6 piece and someone just folded it and put it on their desk and just said thank you. Inside was the marketing capture but this little thank you card that was beautifully designed just sat there. She was like, "Oh look what I've got." And that was quite cool. But the other way to do is incentivize people to share their unboxing expense and reward them with points in your loyalty program. That's how you bring it back to the loyalty. It was a bit of a long answer there, but it's the entire unboxing experience, design and creative and then incentivization to bring them back, like I say, to loyalty points.

Richard:
I would say if you're still with us listeners, I would hit pause, hit rewind two minutes because I think there's a lot of cool things in there which we've touched on through the episode. But ultimately we've got to put that effort into the packaging. We've got to spend that money on brands, spend that money on branding something that I've been harping on about for 20 years. I think that's been a big part of our semi success in our businesses. I think a lot of people leave that off the table. I'm not spending that much money on design and brand. Hang on. You've got to differentiate, you've got to stand out and then every step. That thing you said right at the beginning, that Saturday night order, that's a massive opportunity to impress, isn't it? There's nothing better than chilling out a Sunday and the doorbell rings.
I love it. And it's like, "Oh yeah, got my delivery on a Sunday." I'm not going to share it but I know if then there's incentives in there, I'm still probably not personally going to share it but I know a lot of people that would. I don't know. Free coffee if I do? Probably would. I think it'd be good to... Obviously there's a lot of different things there. I think it'd be good to maybe pull those together and give us an example of a brand that's been working with you guys. If you can say the name that'll be great so it gives it a bit more of touchy feely but that's been obviously using Penny Black's services and the different customizations personalization et. cetera that we've talked about and tell us how that's impacted their results.

Doug Franklin:
We've been very lucky because I think the great thing about taking new technology to market is it comes quite like an innovative space. We've seen a lot of brands going like, "This is cool, this is different. We want to innovate." We've been really lucky to have a lot of innovative early adopters of the technology and actually across quite a range. You've got some food and beverage in there, we've got some jewelry, we've got some fashion, we've got some beauty. It's quite nice. But the one I always like talking about because it's the one we've been working with for the longest, is a German luxury watches and jewelry brand called Paul Valentine. And Paul Valentine great to work with, super fast growing brand, lovely bunch of people. But their problem was they're saying, "Lot of first time buyers, we need to retain them." They came to say, "Can you help us?"
Penny Black. And the answer to that was like, "Let's hone in on this. This is your problem. You want to get your first time buyer to make a second purchase and a third purchase and beyond, we can help you do that." And we help them on a number of dimensions too because we created some stigmas. What was really interesting that we did for them is what we found is they serve worldwide so customers in the UK want to be communicated with in English presumably. Customers in Germany, in German. There's a language setting too. But we honed in on these first time buyers and created a discount campaign for them to get them to convert and then take that third, fourth and fifth purchase. And the results have been like I say, staggering I think so we've seen scan rates, this is people pulling up the flies and then actually scanning of close to 10%.
The conversion of that varies by campaign but somewhere between 15 and 20%. And I say the revenue generates it on average, some campaigns are higher, but on average about one pound 10 per campaign per insert. It's staggering. It's worked really well and more importantly what they've seen is those people who made the second purchase then came back for the third purchase, that increased customer lifetime value is improving too. It's been a real success story and the good thing is we are seeing that now. We've only been trading for 12 months but now it's starting to come through on all the business we're working with too.

Richard:
It's quite high value products as well by the sound of it. Obviously in terms of lifetime value obviously yet to be known but that time I'm a big watch... We'll talk off camera actually because that's actually something that I've got my... I'll briefly mention it, but my sons are launching a e-comm store in about six weeks time that's watch related. That's all I'll say at this stage. But we're a big watch family in our house. But that sounds very intriguing. But I can see how it's typically quite a niche where I would assume a few things where it's that one time purchase and then maybe gone. It's harder, isn't it, in that niche? You're absolutely right to identify that as a challenge and then work on that. It'd be good to maybe get you back on in 12, 18 months and see how that's gone. See if there's any more you can share on that one.

Doug Franklin:
It is and that's the thing with a fast growing business, they're still developing their family of products and being able to direct people to those family of products is really important. You've got someone thinks a watch, you're not going to buy watch every week, but actually there's stuff that goes with it, the collection and being able to direct them to it is quite cool. And beyond just that, they've got some really awesome customer service use cases coming up that have blown me away. I'm really excited about it. I probably can't share what those are but they get from a brand perspective, tick they've seen it working from marketing perspective tick and now they how can we use this to improve our customer service? Thinking about things like reducing returns or making the returns process easier and it's ticking a number of boxes so it's really exciting for them.

Richard:
That does sound absolutely. Obviously a lot of good things there. A lot of things that I think are going to give our listeners a lot to think about but lets get the crystal ball out for a minute and we're sat here in maybe... We don't like to go too far in the future because e-commerce is moving that quick. But we're sat here in 18 months. What will we be talking about when it comes to packaging, what other things that our listeners maybe could get in front of sooner than a lot of other people?

Doug Franklin:
There's two things I believe going to happen in packaging. One is I think we're going to hear this term phigital packaging being associated with this term phigital. And what I mean by phigital, this is blending those physical and digital experiences. Giving packaging the same flexibility and sophistication of digital channels. I think we're going to be hearing a lot more about that and people are going to start realizing that this physical medium is actually a digital marketing channel. We spoke about... I think we're going to hear more and more and I think what you actually seeing is where people are looking at this. Even some of the bigger players I think are starting to introduce, not quite the same packaging, but if you look at someone like a Masters who are offering personalized direct mail, you see they're trying to take that one step further. Something that used to just be generic and personalizing it.
I see that being applied to packaging generally. That's the first thing. The second thing I believe what will happen is less is more. I think it's going to be happening with packaging. I think what we've seen historically with unboxing is glitter balls and confetti and all of that. I think people are conscious about what's happening, how they deliver things.
I think it's going to be less is more in packaging. This is where Penny Back really helps because if you are going to send something, if you are going to use it, make it matter. Make it can be really impactful and make it matter. Whatever's going into that package isn't just going into the bin, it's going to have the right purpose. That's where I see with packaging. Less is more. Use it effectively and make it work for you. But most exciting, I think this is where Penny Black is really excited on our roadmap is being able to move and we are already starting that move from the inserts to actually printing on the physical package itself. Actually, that's where I see this moving to in the future.

Richard:
Love it. I think that is a brilliant point to end. Less is more printing on the packaging itself. Absolutely with you on that. Less is more. I think I've talked a few times about my excessive Amazon orders last year and we've done something about that massively. But obviously those packages still arrive? But what you're getting in those packages, what is really necessary in those packages. Doug, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on. I like to end absolutely every single episode with a book recommendation. Do you have a book that you'd recommend to our listeners?

Doug Franklin:
Yes. Maybe this is controversial not right. The book I'd recommend is The Martian by Andy Weir. I don't know if you've ever read it. There was the movie with Matt Damon where he goes to Mars and gets stuck on Mars. But that's a book I'd recommend because I think it's the perfect book to talk about how to make a business thrive in a startup environment. And that's why actually at Penny Black, in our culture in our team, we call ourselves the everyday astronauts because there's so many traits and behaviors and ways of working that come out of that book that resonate. If you think about astronauts and going to space, the first thing is astronauts are the best in class. You don't get to go to the moon by getting an E in maths. You've got your best in class, they mission focused.
You don't go into space unless you believe in the mission and you want to find the answer to something bigger. In the startup it's all about following that common mission and finding the answer to something that hasn't been explored or done yet. There's a sense of perspective. Astronauts always have a sense of perspective because they're looking out at the earth from outer space and there's this real... They see the world in a bigger piece and as in every space movie, finally, there's always some kind of disaster where fire breaks out in the cabin and they've got to solve their problem with a straw and some duct tape and they do. No time with limited resources so that's why I'd recommend that book.

Richard:
Very relatable as an entrepreneur running an eCommerce store. Fantastic. Doug, it's been an absolute pleasure. For those that want to find out more about you, more about Penny Black, what's the best way to do that?

Doug Franklin:
If you want to reach out to me, please find me on LinkedIn. All my contact information's there or you can go to our website, pennyblack.io, book a demo, request some samples, and we'll be in touch.

Richard:
Thanks Doug. It's been a pleasure.

Doug Franklin:
Thanks Richard.

Richard:
See you. Bye.

Richard:
Hi, and welcome to another episode of eCommerce One. Today's guest, Doug Franklin, founder and chief executive officer at Penny Black. How you doing, Doug?

Doug Franklin:
Hey Richard. Doing very well and genuinely excited to be here with you today.

Richard:
Yes. It's going to be a cracker. I know it is. I know it is. It's something I'm very, very, very much interested in. Something we talk about a lot in our household, let alone our agencies and whatnot. Myself and Doug, we met probably about, several months ago at the RX, an expo that we refer to a lot here in the UK. We get meet a lot of our partners and quite a lot of our partners have been on the podcast, but I know we've been liaising with you for about three or four months now, Doug, to get you on. Great to finally have you on. How's things going?

Doug Franklin:
Very, very good. Just back from a summer holiday so I'm feeling really, really refreshed and ready get stuck back into things.

Richard:
Brilliant. I think it would be good to kick off and tell our listeners how you got into the world of eCommerce and how you ended up at Penny Black.

Doug Franklin:
Interesting story I think, because my background isn't eCommerce at all. I actually come from financial services. But one of the things I was always taught is never walk past a problem. And during the pandemic I uncovered a problem that I wanted to work on. And one thing that we all know is e-com boomed over the period we were all in lockdown as people got shopping online and me being one of those people and what would happen is I'd go on, I'd be attracted to these brands by the great stuff they were doing online, really being able to target me and personalize my online experience that felt great, felt like I was having some connectivity. I would buy something and then the next moment would happen, the postman would ring the doorbell and that was quite a highlight for the day.
Some human contact that was just another person that weren't the people you were living with at the time. And I love my family, but someone, a new face was welcome. I would get my package and I would open it and was at that moment I'd feel a bit underwhelmed. I would get this package and my product would be there, but something was missing. I was looking at this package and going, "This just doesn't feel right." I feel like all that connection, that personalization that was happening for me to make the purchase to go to that digital journey was almost lost at this point. I almost felt a bit underwhelmed and that got me really interested in the way eCommerce brands could deliver better customer service and customer experience at their moment of unboxing.

Richard:
I think interested that when you said about that during that peak of lockdown, literally it was like you got your family and then you got the delivery drivers. They were the only people you saw for many months give and take. Wasn't it? They became your new friends. Hey, it's me again. Literally. Obviously we all, I think, pretty much ordered more than ever, but like you say, you spent all that time making that decision of buying X, Y, Z and then it arrives and possibly just a brown box. It's just like, "Okay, okay, it's not that exciting." Excitement's over. The credit cards done it's work. Here's the thing. But that initial positive experience is dwindling, isn't it? And then the plain box arrives and then it's like, "Okay." But at least you said hello to your driver, your newfound friend.

Doug Franklin:
Exactly.

Richard:
Penny Black obviously alleviates, helps bridge that gap. Tell us more about that.

Doug Franklin:
Exactly. What we do at Penny Black is we allow brands to take that digital personalization that they striving for online and put it physically into the hands of their customers. What we are allowing brands to do at the moment is create these personalized inserts that have the same personalization capabilities as a Klaviyo email. Think about it like that. The same level of sophistication as a Klaviyo email and deliver it to them at the moment they open their box. Instead of this boring brown box with those A4 pieces of white paper that get chucked in, you're now opening a box that's talking to you that's well designed, got good creative and like I say, it's almost like a one on one conversation with whoever's opening the box. And that's what it does at the top level.
And then the way it works, you've got to think about it. This isn't a print service. Printing's part of what makes the product work. But you've got to think about this more like you think about your email marketing tools. What Penny Black does is it pulls in data from all the key sources that you would use to segment your customers, whether it be Shopify, Klaviyo, any other CRMM tools you are using. It brings this data in, it creates this, we've got a personalization engine where you can then create your segments, your campaigns, create your designs and that sets a scene and you start to automate all those campaigns the same way as you automate email marketing campaigns in the platform. And these campaigns can be about anything. It can be discounts for new customers, review requests, VIP content, how to, a huge variety of different campaigns can be communicated through these inserts that you create.
But most importantly, what these inserts have is a QR code. Well designed, personalized now there's this QR code that when scanned brings the customer back into the online journey so that's how the front and how our marketers and brands would think about it. In the background, of course Penny Black are experts in printing and performance operations, but we take care of all of that. People always think, "This sounds complicated." But the expertise that we've built up is actually we set up printers in the fulfillment centers and it just means when the order's getting packed at the packing lane, these personalized inserts with your codes are coming out. It's as simple as that. And what we found is really exciting is that these campaigns are actually performing better than other post post-purchase channels. 100% open rates because everyone opens their package.
Everyone's getting a quiet moment but the stats that are blowing us away at the moment is the conversion rates. We've seen conversion rates of about 20% on these flyers and I think a really killer step that we're talking about at the moment for one of our customers is I think for every insert they've sent in the last 12 months they've made one pound 50 in revenue. That's really, really exciting. Those are the top line stats, but then also equally what's really exciting about what we do is what we seen is Penny Black's able to extend the attribution period that brands can generate through their post-purchase marketing. Because these things are personalized and well designed, people actually keeping them on their desks or on their fridges and going back to them. What we are seeing is people still engaging with these communications and these inserts up to a month plus after it's been sent. An exciting time and that's what we do. Those are results we're seeing and you can tell obviously I'm being a bit animated but while we are so excited about it too.

Richard:
Just listening to you, my mind's just going... God, it is. I find it so exciting as well. As I think a lot of our listeners and you alluded to during lockdown bought probably a bit more than I should have done. I had to have a little word with myself this year just to completely calm that down and that's for another episode I think. But also I subscribe to quite a lot of subscription services, subscription eCommerce over lockdown. Coffee being, I've talked about that in quite a few episodes now, but when my coffee delivery comes and I've got different ones arrive... Right at the beginning I bought a fancy pants coffee machine with the grind, the proper beans and whatnot and various other things for the kitchen like I think most of us did, quite a few of us did.
But the coffee, oh unbelievable. And some of these guys that I'm buying products off, they're doing it so well and a part of that is this personalized packaging and this personalized messaging that's coming to me whether some I've got set up on a four week cycle, some I've got set up on a six, eight week cycle, I think the six or eight week cycle. But some of these brands, I found them what, two and a half, three years ago. It was two and a half years ago when the pandemic started and I'm still getting my delivery now. And a big part of that, I'm an absolute coffee fiend, but it is this personalized piece. I open it up and it's Richard and then it's talking very specifically about the personalized piece around the family of the growers of that particular beam that week, that month.
You can QR code after that as well. And I think some of the brands and some of the things that I've encountered then obviously I know are some of our clients do that retention piece for subscription has been huge. Huge, huge, huge. And I think when you mentioned some of the examples, I think obviously we've got a lot of different listeners whether that's selling a coffee or whether that's selling settees, there's a potential use case for personalized packaging for all of you guys listening right now.
I was sat in my office just before I went away a couple weeks ago with one of our clients and started talking about Penny Black and you could just see his mind go, "Oh my god." And he sells baby clothes and that's somebody that I'll introduce you to, Doug, after the podcast thing. But he is selling obviously baby clothes to new parents, when we got the baby's name potentially when the baby's born can do with that packaging and that messaging and those very specific segments. We've got a lot of listeners that are semi obsessed with Klaviyo for example as we are here and the level of detail that you can do with Klaviyo, obviously you can use those segments and those to the different segments from those flows and things to develop the messaging and the packaging.

Doug Franklin:
And that's exactly right. We obviously integrate with Klaviyo and it's really exciting because you can use those segments and almost getting that we don't see Penny Black as a you've got to use Penny black where you've got to use email, you've got to use text, it's part of the stack and that's how you're doing. Because some people are going to like receiving emails and they'll all respond to texts but other people are. We're seeing this ongoing trend. This move towards people enjoying something more physical. What you're doing is you're optimizing because you're not reinventing the wheel, you can use those segments but you can optimize it to give yourself a better post-purchase experience to those customers.

Richard:
I think a lot of it boils down to this lifetime value ultimately that of the cost of that first acquisition. We've done various episodes on an acquisition but ultimately lifetime value is so important. I think still so many merchants still wrapped up on acquisition. But hang on a minute, if you've got 200,000 customers, the company I'm talking about that was in a couple of three weeks together, they got 130,000 recent customers in the last 12 months I think it is.
And wow, some of the things we're doing with them recently, it's free money. Whereas if you just send in plain box packaging to these people then they're thinking of shall we reorder something for our child? Or you're not front and center of mind if you just sent them a white box. Listen to you, I would say what you're saying is that potentially quite a lot of companies are getting their packaging the way they're packaging, the way they're potentially probably not even messaging in the packaging, they're getting it wrong. What would you say companies are doing wrong and how can they address that and what would be some potential next steps?

Doug Franklin:
That's a great question Richard. I think at the top level, it varies. There's varying. Some brands are innovating in the packaging space and I think what we've seen is they are cool packaging designs. We've seen a lot of innovation in that way. But I think what people... But that's more geared towards I guess more the branding, which is important. But I think what people have got to start seeing with packaging is don't view it as a cost center. See this as something that can actually drive revenue for you and therefore a crucial investment as part of your retention or your marketing strategy. That's something that once was a cost that you think this is a cost actually hang on, I can use a marketing channel to bring money back into my business, help me retain, help me grow. That's the one aspect of it.
And then on the flip side, there's also like I say, some brands are doing packaging well. I think what we're seeing is where they're doing their packaging really well. There is some affiliation with that brand where they're doing packaging well. It's a nice unboxing experience but what I've actually seen even with it even at the top where brands are really investing in their packaging, it's still learned right at the end by this just generic delivery note that goes in.
It drives me mad, these delivery notes that go in because I can't even tell you. I won't name the brand super premium, super, super premium this brand, the amount of packing that goes into it is crazy. It's rubber seals and stuff. And then the last thing that happens is this A4 piece of paper, you're like, "What a waste. You've just gone in and wasted. Incrementally then imagine just that with the incrementally a well designed thing personalized that sits on top, that's what makes that impact and is going to take that packaging from being a cost into a real direct revenue driver so you're going to get those two impacts now a great brand experience and then some direct marketing that you're going to be constructing.

Richard:
It is so frustrating. You buy that premium product and you just open a brown box, it's just sat there. You think of all the steps that's gone to get from building... The hundreds of steps literally to get from you from establishing that brand, getting that brand in front of you to go into the website to possibly hundreds of people so forth. And that last bit before that tape goes on the box is the point really where brand is ultimately they've passed that. They could be done at that point. They've got an opportunity and they're just not taking that opportunity to just add in that extra experience. Just simple things I find. The way that you open the box and like you say it's just stuff full of whether it's the air pack. I used to have it in my e-com business many, many years ago. That air machine you plug in the wall and then you buy a reel and you would pump that full and it would fill a room basically with packaging and then the paper and stuff.
But come on guys have a word with yourselves because the opportunity to open that box and just a wow and maybe it doesn't have to be at the extremes to start with just a well branded A4 piece of paper and it's just packaged out... A little bit thought more thoughts going into that packaging internal inside the box. Obviously then we can think personalization. With the personalization side of things with you guys, something that's on my mind is, I think you mentioned if you've got your products a fulfillment company, that fulfillment company would then potentially have the mechanism and the technology and the particular printers et. cetera to print the personalized. But what if you don't use fulfillment centers? Can you have the tech at your own warehouse?

Doug Franklin:
Yeah. We're agnostic to the type of fulfillment centers we can work with. Our fulfillment partners at the moment range from global players like a Radial, who I don't know if you're familiar with, but they operate across the US and global player with some more startup fulfillments with some tech enable fulfillments and companies or brands using their own in-house fulfillment. We are agnostic to that. The process and technology we use enables you to set it up in any kind of fulfillment environment and it's quite quick. I think it's less than a day's worth of implementation effort and learning.

Richard:
I'm just thinking for some of our customers and some of our listeners that maybe moreso don't use fulfillments, companies they've got their own, their own 5,000, 10,000, 20 whatever it may be, square foot warehouse, they would then need to invest in some of the printing technology et cetera that would be needed to print the boxes.

Doug Franklin:
We own the printing technology and they would need to visit that. The way our business works is it's a straightforward subscription model which we will price based on volumes but there's no upfront investment in technology, in the technology or implementation. Manage all of that.

Richard:
Brilliant. It's getting better and better, isn't it? We talk about loyalty schemes quite a lot on the podcast. Something that, again when we're thinking about this lifetime value of customers and enticing customers to come back and give them incentives et cetera. But how can a company use their loyalty scheme to improve their packaging experience or vice versa?

Doug Franklin:
Great question. I think maybe what I can do is just talk about what some of the brands we work with, what they're doing and where we're seeing results. I think the first type of use case where we've seen the people using loyalty scheme as part of the Penny Black stack is just communicating to customers that they have points waiting for them when they've purchased. You just purchased something. Hey Richard, you pick it up, these are the points waiting for you and then also discounts if you act on those points. One of the examples we've seen of people using Penny Black to promote loyalty, the other one is of course is if they could take any value adding actions to increase loyalty. Leaving review, referring a friend, you get additional points so if you're taking those value adding actions that pulls up. Those are at the moment the types of cases we see.

Richard:
Encouraging them to... Making them aware that you're only points off the platinum account. But did you know if you refer one friend to wherever their particular referral incentive is? Just making them aware it's there, making them aware that next step, you are here. Just a little bit here and then you can get your VIP access to a sale thing or whatever it may be.

Doug Franklin:
And it's quite nice to communicate that in terms of personally because everyone will be different so it won't feel like a generic flyer you're getting where if you pre-print then everyone will have three little medals or three ticks. No you've made three approaches or four purchase, it's personalized so it's more real. It's real time and it's in their physical format, they put it up on their fridge, they scan it where they want to make the next purchase, it reminds them. It's a constant reminder. And then other cool thing that we seeing is where you set up your segments based on loyalty and that if someone's, let's say, fourth purchase or fifth purchase, what could be quite cool we play with now is actually where... Rather than at the moment I think you've seen sometimes in fulfillment processes where they just chuck something into the box.
There's a neat tool now where actually the print will come out which will tell you that this is a fifth time customer, therefore you know to put something additional into a box like a new sample or something like that. And that's cool because you start differentiating on tiers there. You are someone who's made five purchase as a gold member, that sample now gets put in or something like that. Having that connection so what fulfillment can actually see happening at the same time it is quite cool. We're seeing a lot of interest in.

Richard:
I love it. I think loyalty programs we talk about a lot. We've got a couple of episodes coming up as well but something that it just goes hand in hand this whole personalization piece and I think that's very much the reason why I still very much have quite probably one or two many, two subscriptions still because just get to that next tier, just get to that next tier.
But I think it's very surprising to the people that are listening right now that don't have a loyalty scheme in place and how using a loyalty scheme and then incorporating into that personalized packaging and obviously we talk about all sorts of different things on different episodes but that lifetime value, it's absolutely critical. I think those of you that are listening and I imagine you're probably sitting there thinking, "Actually yeah we're not doing that." Then reach out to the team here and we'll point you in the right direction with various partners, our different tech partners. Why would you say then that packaging really influences customer retention? I know we've touched on it a lot but it's so important, isn't it? What else would you say on that?

Doug Franklin:
Yeah. If you go back many years now, I guess, what people used to do was go into a store, that's what people would do. They go into a store and the stores they would keep going to are the stores that would know that you're Richard, they know that you were there last week and they know what you bought last week was this. They know who you are, they know what you've bought, they know what you want to do next. That's what they do. That's what it used to be. The world has changed so for most DTC brands now the packaging, that unboxing moment is the first and only physical contact they're going to have. It's almost replacing that in store moment and that's why it is so important I think for them to get this right. You don't have your store anymore, you need to find a way to replicate that. Best way to replicate, the only physical contact you're going to have is with your package. Use that to replicate that experience.

Richard:
I think that's makes complete sense, doesn't it? I think about the handful of stores that I regularly go to, not probably 100, 200 yards from here and I walk in there, those guys know me, they're like, "Hey Richard, how you doing?" Maybe the odd clothes shop and whatnot that I've been going to for 25 years and then I go back in. They're good, they sell good clothes but so do another 20 shops in town and I go back in because that personal attention, "How you doing?" They know specific things about me that they'll be, "Yeah." I'm a big guy. I might not look it on here but I'm six foot seven. Obviously, we have met. I'm a big fella so just in the e-com world that personalization on the site around getting personalized recommendations around my size, which is obviously fairly straightforward nowadays.
But then when you get the packaging and it's mentioning things around my personal account, whether that's where I am with the loyalty system, it absolutely makes sense, doesn't it? Absolutely makes sense. It's just replicating that in a fashion. Brilliant. We've got the box and we've got this personalized box that's come through and I know when my coffee deliveries arrive it's like, "Oh." It's an exciting thing. But I never feel that... Believe it or not, I'm quite a private guy when it comes to my private life so when I get these packages I'm not one for videoing them and putting them on my personal profiles. But what would you say to merchants that are listening in that are trying to encourage their buyers to share more, these experiences of unboxing and good unboxing experiences? What would you say to the merchants that are trying to get more user generated content around that?

Doug Franklin:
Probably two things. One of the things we always advise our brands actually when we speak to brands and start working with them is just having a Penny Black insert and having really bad packaging, you're not going to get people sharing your unboxing moment. The first bit is having harmonization. It doesn't have to be boxes made out of platinum but a good design on your packaging. But it's all about the design and thinking about it like a collective unboxing experience, now you've got your good design and that's surprising and delighting them with the messaging and the thoughtfulness and the speed at which it comes because sometimes what we've seen where people have done it, they can't believe that they placed an order at 11:00 PM on Saturday and by midday on Sunday it's arrived and it's personalized and it's got all this. I think the speed at which it's done and the overall unboxing experience is one thing they need to think about and how they want to push that.
And that's where Penny Black steps in because you can have a good design and then upping that ante, that wow moment is what does it. But what we see work really well and what we see people now, the first thing is people are variable in terms of what they'll want to share, but the design and creative that goes into it, the artwork and the making it look nice, not just like generic flyer, helps for sharing and that's actually where we've seen the brand we're working with, they did it really well.It actually looked like just a little thank you card was this great A6 piece and someone just folded it and put it on their desk and just said thank you. Inside was the marketing capture but this little thank you card that was beautifully designed just sat there. She was like, "Oh look what I've got." And that was quite cool. But the other way to do is incentivize people to share their unboxing expense and reward them with points in your loyalty program. That's how you bring it back to the loyalty. It was a bit of a long answer there, but it's the entire unboxing experience, design and creative and then incentivization to bring them back, like I say, to loyalty points.

Richard:
I would say if you're still with us listeners, I would hit pause, hit rewind two minutes because I think there's a lot of cool things in there which we've touched on through the episode. But ultimately we've got to put that effort into the packaging. We've got to spend that money on brands, spend that money on branding something that I've been harping on about for 20 years. I think that's been a big part of our semi success in our businesses. I think a lot of people leave that off the table. I'm not spending that much money on design and brand. Hang on. You've got to differentiate, you've got to stand out and then every step. That thing you said right at the beginning, that Saturday night order, that's a massive opportunity to impress, isn't it? There's nothing better than chilling out a Sunday and the doorbell rings.
I love it. And it's like, "Oh yeah, got my delivery on a Sunday." I'm not going to share it but I know if then there's incentives in there, I'm still probably not personally going to share it but I know a lot of people that would. I don't know. Free coffee if I do? Probably would. I think it'd be good to... Obviously there's a lot of different things there. I think it'd be good to maybe pull those together and give us an example of a brand that's been working with you guys. If you can say the name that'll be great so it gives it a bit more of touchy feely but that's been obviously using Penny Black's services and the different customizations personalization et. cetera that we've talked about and tell us how that's impacted their results.

Doug Franklin:
We've been very lucky because I think the great thing about taking new technology to market is it comes quite like an innovative space. We've seen a lot of brands going like, "This is cool, this is different. We want to innovate." We've been really lucky to have a lot of innovative early adopters of the technology and actually across quite a range. You've got some food and beverage in there, we've got some jewelry, we've got some fashion, we've got some beauty. It's quite nice. But the one I always like talking about because it's the one we've been working with for the longest, is a German luxury watches and jewelry brand called Paul Valentine. And Paul Valentine great to work with, super fast growing brand, lovely bunch of people. But their problem was they're saying, "Lot of first time buyers, we need to retain them." They came to say, "Can you help us?"
Penny Black. And the answer to that was like, "Let's hone in on this. This is your problem. You want to get your first time buyer to make a second purchase and a third purchase and beyond, we can help you do that." And we help them on a number of dimensions too because we created some stigmas. What was really interesting that we did for them is what we found is they serve worldwide so customers in the UK want to be communicated with in English presumably. Customers in Germany, in German. There's a language setting too. But we honed in on these first time buyers and created a discount campaign for them to get them to convert and then take that third, fourth and fifth purchase. And the results have been like I say, staggering I think so we've seen scan rates, this is people pulling up the flies and then actually scanning of close to 10%.
The conversion of that varies by campaign but somewhere between 15 and 20%. And I say the revenue generates it on average, some campaigns are higher, but on average about one pound 10 per campaign per insert. It's staggering. It's worked really well and more importantly what they've seen is those people who made the second purchase then came back for the third purchase, that increased customer lifetime value is improving too. It's been a real success story and the good thing is we are seeing that now. We've only been trading for 12 months but now it's starting to come through on all the business we're working with too.

Richard:
It's quite high value products as well by the sound of it. Obviously in terms of lifetime value obviously yet to be known but that time I'm a big watch... We'll talk off camera actually because that's actually something that I've got my... I'll briefly mention it, but my sons are launching a e-comm store in about six weeks time that's watch related. That's all I'll say at this stage. But we're a big watch family in our house. But that sounds very intriguing. But I can see how it's typically quite a niche where I would assume a few things where it's that one time purchase and then maybe gone. It's harder, isn't it, in that niche? You're absolutely right to identify that as a challenge and then work on that. It'd be good to maybe get you back on in 12, 18 months and see how that's gone. See if there's any more you can share on that one.

Doug Franklin:
It is and that's the thing with a fast growing business, they're still developing their family of products and being able to direct people to those family of products is really important. You've got someone thinks a watch, you're not going to buy watch every week, but actually there's stuff that goes with it, the collection and being able to direct them to it is quite cool. And beyond just that, they've got some really awesome customer service use cases coming up that have blown me away. I'm really excited about it. I probably can't share what those are but they get from a brand perspective, tick they've seen it working from marketing perspective tick and now they how can we use this to improve our customer service? Thinking about things like reducing returns or making the returns process easier and it's ticking a number of boxes so it's really exciting for them.

Richard:
That does sound absolutely. Obviously a lot of good things there. A lot of things that I think are going to give our listeners a lot to think about but lets get the crystal ball out for a minute and we're sat here in maybe... We don't like to go too far in the future because e-commerce is moving that quick. But we're sat here in 18 months. What will we be talking about when it comes to packaging, what other things that our listeners maybe could get in front of sooner than a lot of other people?

Doug Franklin:
There's two things I believe going to happen in packaging. One is I think we're going to hear this term phigital packaging being associated with this term phigital. And what I mean by phigital, this is blending those physical and digital experiences. Giving packaging the same flexibility and sophistication of digital channels. I think we're going to be hearing a lot more about that and people are going to start realizing that this physical medium is actually a digital marketing channel. We spoke about... I think we're going to hear more and more and I think what you actually seeing is where people are looking at this. Even some of the bigger players I think are starting to introduce, not quite the same packaging, but if you look at someone like a Masters who are offering personalized direct mail, you see they're trying to take that one step further. Something that used to just be generic and personalizing it.
I see that being applied to packaging generally. That's the first thing. The second thing I believe what will happen is less is more. I think it's going to be happening with packaging. I think what we've seen historically with unboxing is glitter balls and confetti and all of that. I think people are conscious about what's happening, how they deliver things.
I think it's going to be less is more in packaging. This is where Penny Back really helps because if you are going to send something, if you are going to use it, make it matter. Make it can be really impactful and make it matter. Whatever's going into that package isn't just going into the bin, it's going to have the right purpose. That's where I see with packaging. Less is more. Use it effectively and make it work for you. But most exciting, I think this is where Penny Black is really excited on our roadmap is being able to move and we are already starting that move from the inserts to actually printing on the physical package itself. Actually, that's where I see this moving to in the future.

Richard:
Love it. I think that is a brilliant point to end. Less is more printing on the packaging itself. Absolutely with you on that. Less is more. I think I've talked a few times about my excessive Amazon orders last year and we've done something about that massively. But obviously those packages still arrive? But what you're getting in those packages, what is really necessary in those packages. Doug, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on. I like to end absolutely every single episode with a book recommendation. Do you have a book that you'd recommend to our listeners?

Doug Franklin:
Yes. Maybe this is controversial not right. The book I'd recommend is The Martian by Andy Weir. I don't know if you've ever read it. There was the movie with Matt Damon where he goes to Mars and gets stuck on Mars. But that's a book I'd recommend because I think it's the perfect book to talk about how to make a business thrive in a startup environment. And that's why actually at Penny Black, in our culture in our team, we call ourselves the everyday astronauts because there's so many traits and behaviors and ways of working that come out of that book that resonate. If you think about astronauts and going to space, the first thing is astronauts are the best in class. You don't get to go to the moon by getting an E in maths. You've got your best in class, they mission focused.
You don't go into space unless you believe in the mission and you want to find the answer to something bigger. In the startup it's all about following that common mission and finding the answer to something that hasn't been explored or done yet. There's a sense of perspective. Astronauts always have a sense of perspective because they're looking out at the earth from outer space and there's this real... They see the world in a bigger piece and as in every space movie, finally, there's always some kind of disaster where fire breaks out in the cabin and they've got to solve their problem with a straw and some duct tape and they do. No time with limited resources so that's why I'd recommend that book.

Richard:
Very relatable as an entrepreneur running an eCommerce store. Fantastic. Doug, it's been an absolute pleasure. For those that want to find out more about you, more about Penny Black, what's the best way to do that?

Doug Franklin:
If you want to reach out to me, please find me on LinkedIn. All my contact information's there or you can go to our website, pennyblack.io, book a demo, request some samples, and we'll be in touch.

Richard:
Thanks Doug. It's been a pleasure.

Doug Franklin:
Thanks Richard.

Richard:
See you. Bye.

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