A Bike Company's Clever Hack Reduces Shipping Damage: Labeling It As A TV

Charlie Sorrel 09.30.16 10:30 AM

VanMoof, the Dutch maker of sleek bikes filled with clever gadgets, came up with an equally clever hack to stop its bikes getting damaged by careless shipping companies. It secretly printed a picture of a TV on the side of the shipping box, and the results were both large and immediate.

"Anyone in the ecom world knows you’re only as good as your shipping partner," wrote VanMoof creative director Bex Rad. "Your covetable products, your frictionless website, your killer brand—they all count for nothing when your delivery partner drops the ball."

In eight years of shipping bikes directly to customers, the Dutch company, known for comfy city bikes that have lights, locks, and other devices integrated into their frames, has never managed to find a responsible shipping company. "No matter who was doing the shipping, too many of our bikes arrived looking like they’d been through a metal-munching combine harvester," writes Rad. "It was getting expensive for us, and bloody annoying for our customers."

Then they had a flash of inspiration. "Our boxes are about the same size as a (really really reaaaally massive) flatscreen television. Flatscreen televisions always arrive in perfect condition. What if we just printed a flatscreen television on the side of our boxes?"

It worked. Immediately, shipping damage dropped by 70%-80%. The company planned to keep the hack secret, all the better to keep fooling the shippers, but it got out when a photograph of the packaging was posted to Twitter by the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay.

Being outed on Twitter hasn't made any difference to the efficacy of this smart hack. Quite the opposite, in fact. "Our damage rate has gone even lower since the news came out," VanMoof marketing director Dave Shoemack told Co.Exist. "It seems that we now get special treatment!"

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