In the noughties, the question for ecommerce was “will people ever choose online shopping over just going to the store?”
By 2022, it’s been answered with a resounding “yes”. The global post-pandemic ecommerce market is valued at USD $4.9 trillion, and is projected to reach $6.4 trillion by 2024.
The question now lies with staying power.
Ecommerce is the new normal, and it’s getting a little humdrum. As Shopifys and eBays and AliBabas and social media shops and D2C brands overcrowd the market, platforms rely on multiple decentralised technologies to complete purchases, and bricks-and-mortar businesses ramp up competitive efforts with “experiential” shopping, Preezie provides ways to keep things interesting online.
Preezie’s product is like coding an attentive and persuasive sales assistant into your online shop. The goal is to take the ennui out of ecommerce for both buyer and seller, enhancing the customer experience and boosting retailer engagement and conversion rates.
The solution is based on the founders’ two strongly-held beliefs:
- All brands have an unheard voice online, and
- All shoppers deserve to be treated individually.
Meet the founders
Melbourne-based Preezie was founded in 2017 by Michael Tutek and Quoc Nguyen. Michael is an ex-business development engineer and manager, and Quoc’s background lies with corporate finance and directorial roles.
In Michael’s words,
“We didn’t have any experience in startups and both Quoc and I came from very different industries. We were in desperate need of some guidance and support from investors like Skalata.”
What began as a functional SaaS tool with a handful of customers is now a 30-strong team chaired by former Toys ‘R’ Us MD Mark Goddard, with AUD $5.5 million Series A funding in the bank, and a US expansion strategy in full force.
Plan of attack
To get from how it was going to where they are now, Preezie needed three major pillars implemented into their operations: a scalable sales process, product validation, and a bigger team.
Sales process and infrastructure
Skalata worked with Michael and Quoc to develop a structured, scalable approach to sales and execute inbound and outbound marketing strategies. These efforts generated 125+ outbound contacts per week and roughly 50+ qualified leads per month.
Preezie also rebranded, including a new logo, wireframes and website copy, and sales collateral. The team doubled their net monthly recurring revenue during this time.
Product validation and roadmap
Preezie’s original product roadmap was to add more advanced capabilities and build higher barriers to entry over a 24 month timeframe.
The team accelerated this to a 12 month timeframe and added additional resources to the development team to iterate faster, avoid customer churn, and facilitate forecasted growth. They identified a process to condense customer insights and feedback, prioritise product features, and set ambitious targets for development.
Team expansion was crucial to support this emerging growth. Skalata introduced the founders to prospective employees - interviewing and vetting candidates (including their new Head of Sales), preparing job descriptions, setting sales targets and KPIs for eventual hires, and implementing an onboarding process for future hires.
In Michael’s words: “Our main challenge was sales, sales and some more sales with a sprinkle of talent acquisition. We’re still working on sales but we’re heading in the right direction with the right team.
“Our most important learning was to never let sales slide. Revenue needs to drive everything and should be your first and most important metric. It needs the right talent and leadership to drive it.”
No scaleup shooting for unicorn status can do it without heavy-hitting industry vets on the advisory board. In addition to the appointment of Mark Goddard, Preezie’s board now includes PwC partner Anthony Klein and ex PEXA CTO Trevor Nelson.
Preezie’s significantly expanded client base includes LEGO, Dell, JB Hi-Fi, Baby Bunting, Adore Beauty, and Guitar Centre.
And as is always the ultimate goal, Preezie’s partners are seeing positive growth. Skate specialist Bayside Blades saw a 600% increase in its email capture rate, Oz Hair & Beauty has seen a 254% rise in conversions, and online boutique Blue Bungalow has achieved a 106x ROI.
In light of changing privacy laws, Preezie also helps its customers collect 100% first-party data on customer behaviour.
Preezie raised a $5.5 million Series A round from ASX-listed Touch Ventures, and TEN13 in 2021.
They continue to pursue their core goal of bridging the gap between online and in-store.
There’s a particular need for this with higher value and info-heavy products. People want to read about and research them extensively, but they also want to hold them in their hands.
Preezie’s work with Canon allows customers to view and hold cameras in person - the main benefit of IRL shopping - and then scan a QR code that takes them to a Canon web interface. Here they answer questions on their requirements and find extensive guidance on the best camera for them.
It’s like a virtual shop assistant - without the pushiness, rushed pace, or sense of obligation.
Preezie continues to experiment with VR, AR, Voice and AI - but the founders are keen not to deploy gimmicky tech for the sake of tech.
In Michael’s words: “There are always going to be lots of innovations, however I think at times the tech is built outside the view of customer experience. Just work on customer experience then build tech. Essentially, the technology doesn’t even matter, as long as the customer experience is perfect that’s all that counts.”
On the horizon
The Preezie team is averaging 15% month on month revenue growth, with an 80% engagement rate, a 7% conversion rate, and 900,000 shoppers using the platform monthly.
Expansion is happening internally, by building a dynamic leadership team and tripling staff, and externally by expanding their global footprint.
With retail partnerships already established across Australia and in New Zealand, the US, the UK and Canada, Preezie will be ramping up focus on the US and UK over the next 18 months. Cofounder Quoc is currently travelling the breadth of the US, meeting with current and potential clients, and planning for US premises and hires.
There are many ways to surprise and delight customers through process, profit model, customer service, or customer experience. Preezie has achieved this by providing an alternative to the quick-and-dirty Amazon experience - an enjoyable, welcoming, and often educational experience like that of a high-end retailer.
Founder’s last words
“Partnering with Skalata was critical. The ways in which we improved our business are too long to list.”
“We learnt a lot about the basics of running a startup. From raising capital to running a team, hiring, technology, processes, and even networking. I firmly believe we wouldn’t be where we are today if it were not for Skalata.”
Skalata looks forward to watching Preezie take on ecommerce across continents, and remains at the wing for continued guidance and support.