Interview with byrd’s Director of Marketing: partnerships with carriers and tech-driven e-fulfilment capabilities are key to flexible and streamlined e-commerce operations

In March 2022, Ti interviewed byrd’s Director of Marketing David Mirzaei to understand more about the company’s strategy and vision for the European e-fulfilment market. byrd is one of the main European e-fulfilment technology platforms that has been expanding fast in the region. According to David, consolidation is expected in e-fulfilment as more players enter the fast-growing e-commerce logistics market in Europe.

Ti: byrd is a relatively new reality, according to our research, it was born in 2016. Why was it founded and which pain points was it trying to solve?
Alex, CEO and Co-Founder, noticed that one of the biggest pain points of selling online was logistics and shipping. After doing some research the founder team also observed that there is no ideal solution for e-commerce fulfilment as logistics was a rather old-fashioned industry. This is why byrd started working on revolutionising e-commerce logistics and evolved from a fulfilment provider that enables and automates e-commerce fulfilment to the leading e-commerce fulfilment platform in Europe that enables D2C brands to sell anywhere in Europe.

Ti: What do you think are the biggest challenges nowadays for e-fulfilment companies like byrd? What advantages do you think byrd and other e-fulfilment companies have over, for example, logistics providers?
The logistics market is very fragmented, and you are forced to work with various logistics providers across countries which also includes a lot of red tape. This of course is very challenging and time-consuming. So even if you do not have to build your own warehouse, you have to consider a wide range of regulatory challenges that you have to overcome first.

e-commerce fulfilment providers have the great advantage that they can profit from the growing e-commerce market as retail sales are increasingly moving online. While traditional logistics providers have operational excellence, tech-driven fulfilment providers can facilitate streamlined and automated processes, which is needed nowadays. Therefore, companies like byrd have strong leverage when they partner up with established logistics companies. 

Ti: In the US e-fulfilment landscape there are players such as ShipBob, ShipMonk and Nextsmartship, but according to our research byrd is the main technology platform player in the European e-commerce landscape, who would you say are your biggest competitors in the space?
One of the biggest competitors in Europe is probably cubyn, a company from France. Since ShipBob entered the European market as well, I would also consider them as a competitor.

Ti: According to our research, you have physical assets in six European countries Austria, France, Uk, Germany, The Netherlands, and Italy, with around 200,000 sq m of warehousing space and about 20 fulfilment centres and are planning to create a fulfilment centre in Spain. Why did you choose Italy and Spain over, for example, Poland or Belgium? What opportunities and demand do you see in that market?
We are also planning to expand to other countries like Poland and the Nordics. The main reason why we headed south first, was that we want to offer competitive shipping to the Southern countries in Europe. Our fulfilment centres in Italy and Spain put us in a favourable position to enable 2–3-day shipping across Europe. As a next step, we will then plan to further improve our service level across Europe to enable next-day delivery to most countries. In this regard, we are definitely looking into Poland which has a fast-growing e-commerce market, but also the Nordics which shows an attractive market potential.

Ti: Which technologies do you use in your warehousing operations to achieve efficiency and cost savings?
We have developed our own Warehouse-Management-System which is being used in our fulfilment centres. The warehouse workers are also equipped with scanners, tablets and smartphones that have our apps installed which facilitate the whole fulfilment process. With this tech stack, the warehouses can significantly improve efficiency by automating certain steps but also by avoiding human errors through technology, which leads to cost savings.

Ti: Recently ShipMonk has acquired Ruby Has Fulfilment and its CEO has mentioned that it is planning for future inorganic growth. Do you think you might want to also consider acquisitions in the future?
At the moment we see that a lot of competition is entering the market as e-commerce continues to grow. At some point, we also think that the market will be more consolidated as we see it with other industries as well (food delivery e.g). So acquisitions could certainly also become a potential source of inorganic growth for byrd.

Ti: According to our research, returns are very expensive and can be around £20 (about €24). How do you manage returns for your customers?
We have developed our self-service returns portal for our customers which they can provide to their online shoppers to easily initiate returns. This helps our customers to enable a seamless and enjoyable return experience. So even if the returns process is costly in general, online retailers will benefit from a loyal customer that will come back to their web shops, therefore increasing the customer lifetime value.

Ti: How do you offer visibility to your customers? Does the level of visibility requested vary according to whether the company is an SME or a bigger company like one of your biggest customers DUREX?
Our dashboard provides in-depth reporting for all customers and transparency across the whole fulfilment process regardless of the customer size.

Ti: Our research shows that most e-fulfilment technology platforms like byrd own physical assets and create partnerships with last-mile providers to carry out deliveries. Can you tell me a bit more about partnerships you have with carriers? Do you think this might change in the future and carriers might be brought in-house?
We work with more than 15 carriers across Europe and think of them as strategic partnerships that will help us to further grow in the future. Considering the cost of building up a carrier network, we don’t think at this stage that we will bring this service in-house.

Ti: Are there any significant trends that you’ve witnessed within e-fulfilment since the beginning of the pandemic? How has your company had to adapt to these trends?
We see that our retailers are increasingly diversifying their supply chain and also storing additional inventory in order to reduce the risk of stock-outs. As a consequence, we mostly had to do two things:

  • Increasingly distribute the inventory of merchants across multiple warehouses 
  • Block more storage capacity in our warehouses

Merchants also appreciate our strong network of carriers to flexibly switch shipping options if necessary because some providers were experiencing bottlenecks.

Ti: On your website, you’ve highlighted that you are integrated with several e-commerce platforms. Do you plan on any further integrations?
As we expand to new markets, we are also doing in-depth market research to find out which shop systems or e-commerce marketplaces are preferably used by merchants to adapt to local needs. As a consequence, we are now also working on a Prestashop integration which is popular in France, Spain and Italy.

Source: Transport Intelligence, March 17, 2022

Author: Caterina Ciccone