When the Achterhoek-based Mepal launches a new brand identity in 2018, develops a mature omnichannel strategy and spreads its wings internationally, sales figures shoot through the roof.
Mepal develops and produces smart products to store food and drinks. Step by step the company is conquering Europe. The help of a reliable, sustainable logistics partner is proving indispensable.
Almost every Dutch person has a Mepal item or two in their home. And yet few people know the brand name. A striking contradiction, which the company would rather change yesterday than today. ‘We want to turn our product fans into brand fans', explains Rob de Bruijn, E-commerce Manager at Mepal. 'That's why we now emphasize more what a product offers you, rather than what it can do. In otgr words; we change from functional to emotional. The goal is that people buy it precisely because it is from Mepal.'
Explosive growth through all channels
An annual sales increase of 30 percent, an additional 7,000 m2 for assembly and storage, and record sales: the giant leaps since 2018 are the result of a successful rebranding and a well thought-out long-term strategy. Among other things, the household brand decided to serve customers through multiple and aligned sales channels. This omnichannel strategy - Mepal sells through large retail chains, specialized sales channels, e-commerce partners and its own digital channels - proved to be a golden move. De Bruijn: 'Online we have made a tremendous growth spurt.'
Ready to conquer Europe
Until recently, these webshop orders went mainly to customers in the Netherlands. Why shouldn't they also be sent abroad? Recent research has shown that online shopping in Europe has increased significantly in the past few years: 96 percent of European consumers who were surveyed, occasionally buy something online and no less than 53 percent order across borders occasionally.
An international growth opportunity that Mepal seized with both hands. The company now sells directly to consumers in several countries, as per a careful cross-border strategy. Mepal researches the needs in the market, studies contact moments between consumer and company, and creates demand by investing in SEO, SEA and social media. When sales are going well it is time for the final step: building a separate website.
Every country its own preferences
Mepal is particularly successful among its neighbors in the East. ‘Germany has become our biggest market,' says De Bruijn. Our products fit in perfectly there. Germans value quality and are prepared to pay for it. Through our marketing, we know how to reach consumers well and after the launch of a German-language webshop in 2018, things went fast: the number of shipments doubled every year. In 2021, 100,000 packages went that way, and the stretch is far from over.'
Mepal web shops are also active in Belgium and Austria. To sell as much as possible across borders, the company takes nuance differences into account. For each country, it puts different products in the spotlight - Germans appear to be fond of collecting sets - and tweaks the ordering processes, for example by adapting address fields and integrating the most common payment methods. In Belgium, Bancontact is the most popular, among Dutch buyers iDEAL is preferred. And in the German check-out, PayPal, Sofort and Klarna should not be missing.
Relevant for seventy years
Despite record sales, success is not new to Mepal. The company has been making and selling smart plastic products to carry and store food and drinks since 1950, and knows how to respond to social consumer needs. After the Dutch got more vacation days at the end of the 1950s and discovered camping, the "unbreakable" camping tableware became a huge success. And when in the 1980s more and more mothers started working, the plastic lunch boxes and resealable drinking cups for children lunching at school were hard to come by. Nowadays, fit girls are only too happy to show off the selfie-proof Ellipse lunch pot, filled with healthy salads or vegan yogurt.'
Smooth shipping through automation
Yet the current growth also has a downside: Mepal is reaching the limits of its capacity and is struggling in several business units to keep up with the pace. Shipping, however, continues to run smoothly. And that while late delivery of online orders is a common problem.
‘DHL Parcel is helping us achieve our European growth ambitions,’ says De Bruijn. ‘Expanding into another country is never a problem, thanks to our extensive international reach. Almost all our packages leave from the distribution center in Lochem and travel across the continent, but to us, the destination makes little difference. The shipping labels remain the same and roll out of the printer automatically. That saves a lot of administrative hassle.'
Smart production, climate neutral delivery
The companies are also a good match in terms of their approach to sustainability. Mepal makes most of its products from recyclable materials that are assembled by employees in social workshops. In the Netherlands. In addition, customers can reorder parts to extend the lifecycle of their products.
DHL Parcel is also working hard to become more sustainable. The most important goal: climate neutral shipping. In order to ship without emitting CO2, DHL is focusing on green delivery options, electric transport and sustainable locations. De Bruijn: 'It is a real advantage that DHL Parcel is doing everything possible to transport our packages as green as possible. We like to make people and the environment happy and we are convinced that every little bit helps.’
It is that simple
Mepal and DHL Parcel have been working together for a long time. De Bruijn: ‘We prefer our relationships with our partners to be long-term. The convenient My DHL app, APIs and plug-ins offer both our customers and ourselves a lot of convenience. And the digital tools from DHL Parcel are easy to link to our systems, which means that the shipping process is automated from beginning to end, and we have control over every shipment. Which is exactly what you want as a webshop. If something does happen, we can easily reach our account manager who is always ready to help. That personal and accessible contact is incredibly nice. For us it is a no-brainer to continue working with DHL Parcel.’
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