First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Claus Fahlbusch: In the beginning, it was of course a big change, both for the family and for work. However, it quickly became clear thanks to the rapid implementation of temporary rules and regulations, Germany would reach a point where there would be some kind of relaxation and a return to a somewhat “new” normality. Solidarity is and was very important, not only within the family, but also in the working environment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Shipcloud
Claus Fahlbusch: Claus Fahlbusch was born in Jena in 1969. He studied electrical engineering in his hometown and in Birmingham. After a first position as a software developer at Jena-based Cybio AG, he moved to Intershop Communications AG in 1997, where he was employed until 2011. First as a technical trainer and support engineer, then as a shop manager in the full-service e-commerce division. For more than a decade now, he has been fascinated by e-commerce. The idea for shipcloud was born at a breakfast table in 2013, after he and his co-founder Stefan Hollmann had repeatedly been confronted with the lack of carrier integrations and automation processes in shop systems despite the rapid growth of online commerce.
How does Shipcloud innovate?
Claus Fahlbusch: We are striving to form the term Shipping Service Provider (SSP) in analogy to the Payment Service Provider (PSP) and are working hard every day to achieve this. It should become a matter of course to integrate services of carriers into our own system via an SSP. We play a formative role in the new SSP segment. But the vision goes one step further: shipcloud sees itself as a pioneer for innovative logistics concepts. We want to help bring about a paradigm shift, especially in German e-commerce.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Claus Fahlbusch: At the moment, apart from the fact that all our employees are working in their home offices, it looks like we are doing what we always do. In other words, as a provider of cloud-based technology for parcel shipping, we are in normal contact with our customers, partners and logistics companies. So, business continues to be stable under these conditions, which are unfamiliar to all of us, and our service is not restricted in any way. Of course, we are noticing the increasing trend towards online trading, as the stationary shops were closed for more than two months and are just starting to open up again.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Claus Fahlbusch: Even at the beginning of the Corona crisis, it was clear to us that we wanted to support the online retailers in the best possible way. Therefore, we created a new shipcloud subscription for 4 months, which saved the retailers any subscription and basic monthly fees. This should make it easier to enter e-commerce, especially for retailers who have not been represented online so far. The offer was very well received, so that we hopefully could help many retailers a little bit.
Apart from this assistance, our opinion during the crisis has only confirmed once again that as a retailer you should never rely on just one carrier. Many parcel services were not only under enormous stress but were also subject to various restrictions. In order to avoid acceptance stops or long delays in deliveries, it was therefore worthwhile for our retailers to ship with more than one parcel service. The multi-carrier approach therefore always makes sense, whether there is a crisis or not.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Shipcloud in the future?
Claus Fahlbusch: The initial stress triggered by the Corona crisis quickly showed that you have to keep a cool head and look for solutions. When it became clear that there would be a temporary lockdown, the shipcloud management team immediately got together and developed solution strategies. The most important thing was that our employees were able to work from home without any problems and as quickly as possible.
Home office has always been part of our work culture, but now it was also important to provide our employees with additional monitors and essential office equipment. But the initial stress also showed that a lot is possible through good organization. We are proud of our team that we have mastered this challenge together.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Claus Fahlbusch: Shipcloud is positioning itself in Germany and in the future also in Europe as the leading shipping service provider in the field of modern logistics integrator. With the exception of shippo (founded 1 year after us), which is on the market in the USA, our competitors are active in reselling shipping brands without extensive technical components. The competitors’ addressable customer group is therefore limited to small customers (competition corresponds only in the small customer segment). With our platform, however, we offer added value to all customer segments.
In addition to the currently more than 60 integrations into shop/ERP systems and a plug-and-play solution, our USP is the depth of integration into the customer’s systems, which does not require any media breaks or system changes. Furthermore, we offer far more carrier connections and the possibility to offer reselling for the most common carriers.