Although Expack has been around since 2016, 2017 was a pivotal year for us as a business. We closed the year with many accomplishments to celebrate as well as some “resolutions” that we would like to work towards. We wanted to share both with our Expack family, so you can share our joy and help us as we prioritize our efforts in 2018.
A better Expack
One of our proudest accomplishments of 2017 was improving the value of product we include inside each Canadian Expack. While partnering with an existing online shop and having them drop-ship boxes on our behalf was a quick and relatively easy way to start serving a given expat community, this approach had its limitations which were preventing us from giving you the experience we wanted to give you.
When we ran up against our initial partner’s constraints - the number of boxes they could ship out per day, their selection, and their prices - we realized that we could not improve the product unless we decided to stand up our own supply chain. This meant we had to learn a number of things we knew nothing about - it required contracting a third party logistics partner for warehouse space and packing labor, establishing direct relationships with manufacturers and/or larger distributors, and navigating the various import/export laws and procedures.
Moving physical products across borders, particularly food items, is relatively complicated stuff, especially for a bunch of marketing and tech nerds. However - it was important to figure it out, so we rolled up our sleeves and made huge strides, as you can see from the pictures below.
A growing team
Our team grew - earlier in the year we added a Philippines-based Customer Happiness team. Starting with this holiday season, we have been suffering unacceptably long response times, so we added two new members. Rather than going through a customer service outsourcing company, we hired them directly and integrated them into the company. We decided to offer pay that is 50-100% higher than market rate, set them up to work from home, and treat them as equal members of the team. This was a bit of adjustment on their end - coming from an environment that micromanages, and into one that empowers.
The result, roughly nine months into this experiment, is an incredibly dedicated Customer Happiness team which regularly goes above and beyond their job description, and treats the company as their own. We see this as an important accomplishment since Customer Service is one of the most important functions for the company. Perhaps more importantly, we are inspired by the potential for offshoring as a tool to elevate individuals rather than exploit them, so we look forward to growing our footprint in this area of the world.
A whole new world
During early 2017 we decided to start shipping Canadian Expacks internationally. We started by allowing orders from every country, with the idea that we’d take on the risk and refund any boxes that did not arrive, as we learned the peculiarities of each region. We quickly identified a few countries that present issues - either with unacceptably cumbersome or expensive customs processes for our customers, or boxes that do not arrive at all (Mexico, we’re looking at you!).
We’ve unfortunately had to blacklist a small handful countries, but we have been continuously shipping to the majority of the countries in the world (more than 76 individual countries just last month).
While we are not going to stop improving the Canadian Expack, we are looking forward to applying the lessons learned while standing up our new Canadian supply chain to our other countries. We know a lot of you non-Canadian members of the Expack family have been watching our progress with mixed feelings and perhaps feeling a bit left out - stay tuned for the first of our announcements in Q1 2018!
As you can see, A LOT happened last year. Here’s what we’re planning to do to make 2018 another amazing year for Expack.
1. Faster shipping
We want you to get your boxes faster. That’s pretty self explanatory and it’s also our #1 priority right now.
2. Better packaging
We have designed and produced a trial run of snazzy new boxes. Watch your mailboxes in Q2!
3. Non-food items
You seem to really like the few non-food items we’ve shipped recently - bracelet, shot glasses, apron, etc - we want to include more items like this.
4. More countries
We want to be able to serve more expats, because we all miss home. Stay tuned for more countries and re-vamped boxes for France and the United Kingdom.
5. More product variety
We have greatly expanded our product selection by directly partnering with brands such as Vachon, Jakeman’s, Old Dutch and others, but we are always looking for new products to add to the mix. Send us your suggestions! What items do you want to see in upcoming Expacks?
We’re constantly trying to make things better for all of you. Is there anything you think we should work on? Please let us know in the comments section of this post.
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