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The Creative Thinking Edition
On ideas, e-bikes, and on-box thinking.
Colin here. It’s a wonderful thing to work in a creative culture, where problem-solving through new and novel ideas is prized. But not every company works that way, and sometimes the out-there idea can be a tough sell to those concerned with implantation and optimization.
The Dutch bike company Vanmoof offers a masterclass on how a dose of creative thinking solved a logistics and customer service dilemma. Clarity of thought and novelty solved a monster business problem for them.
The company makes smartly designed e-bikes that need to be shipped to customers. Many of these bikes were being delivered damaged, setting off a chain of complicated and costly after-effects throughout their entire business. To solve the issue, they turned to a brilliant solution.
The team redesigned their delivery boxes to look exactly like a television: an item that is essential to American households and that every delivery person knows the drill on how to delicately handle.
And that was it. The lightbulb moment. Our co-founder Ties Carlier’s simple idea. Our boxes are about the same size as a really big, expensive, flat-screen television. So we put an image of one on every box. We assumed handlers would care a little more about that. And we were right.
That small tweak had an outsized impact. Overnight our shipping damages dropped by 70-80%. We sell 80% of our bicycles online, which means we still print TVs on our boxes. More than 60,000 of them have now been shipped directly to our riders worldwide.
Why is this interesting?
This was as simple as an idea. It didn’t come with any extra costs other than a redesign to the exterior of the bike boxes. There was no costly supply chain intervention. And their damage dropped by 80 percent. It was a simple insight and quick execution that saved the day. And it stands to me why the values of creativity and contrarianism always need a seat at the table when trying to solve chunky business problems. And also cultures that are ready to welcome and nurture such ideas as they are gestating. It is a special company that can balance both the poetry of creativity and the crisp, precise rudiments of great operations. (CJN)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)
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