What do you do when your fast-growing company needs to start directly importing products from overseas, but you don’t know where to begin? That’s exactly the situation that Jeroen van Uden, CEO of Toppy found himself in a few years ago. When he entered the world of container shipping, Jeroen soon found himself dealing with thick stacks of paperwork and confusing HS codes. It was like taking a trip back in time to an age where everything had to be signed in triplicate and sent by snail mail. Jeroen knew there must be a faster, easier way to manage his import shipping. That’s when he discovered Shypple.
Founded in 2006, Toppy is a Dutch online retailer specialising in gardening and outdoor lifestyle products. Their product selection ranges from swimming pools and jacuzzis to hammocks, tents, barbecue grills and more. Whatever you need to make your outdoor space more beautiful or comfortable, there’s a good chance Toppy has it in stock. Their product range continues to expand and the company has built a strong reputation among outdoor enthusiasts across the Netherlands. It was even voted the best online gardening store in the Netherlands and named the fastest-growing e-commerce company of 2021 by the Shopping Awards, the highest honour in the Dutch e-commerce industry.
As Toppy continued to grow, Jeroen soon realised that the future of the company would depend on directly importing products from overseas rather than buying locally from the usual channels in Europe. ‘Wholesalers could no longer offer us enough of the inventory we needed. They either didn’t have all the products we needed, or the margin was simply not viable’, explains Jeroen. Ultimately, he began exploring the possibilities of importing garden furniture and other products directly from manufacturers overseas. Soon, he realized that importing from China would be a good match for Toppy.
But he soon found himself dealing with time-consuming paperwork and administrative back-and-forth. ‘My focus at that time was on product development and growing our business. I didn’t want to waste time filling out import documentation’, says Jeroen.
In an attempt to save time and effort, Jeroen began working with a local forwarder in China. Yet, he soon found that this way of working was not a good match for Toppy. ‘The disadvantage of working with a forwarder is that they follow a very traditional way of working. I was constantly receiving envelopes full of forms to fill out. Multiple copies had to be sent to multiple places. It was basically a nightmare.’
As an online entrepreneur, Jeroen knew that there must be a more modern, tech-based alternative to import shipping. Around that time, he heard about Shypple on BNR Nieuwsradio, a Dutch business news radio station. He felt like he had finally found what he’d been missing. ‘We tested Shypple with one shipment to begin with, and everything went flawlessly. The Shypple platform is so well-designed. We hardly have to do anything to get our containers shipped. Shypple takes care of 95% of the process for us. All we have to do is upload our documents. It’s made it a lot easier to trade with China. That first step, which had seemed so impossible before, suddenly became so much easier and less stressful.’
Jeroen says that Shypple is exactly the import shipping solution that Toppy had been looking for. Ever since his first experience with the platform, he has been an enthusiastic Shypple user. ‘For us, it used to be so complicated to get a container shipped to the Netherlands from our suppliers in mainland China. There were so many steps involved, I couldn’t even begin to keep track of them all. But now I can manage everything myself on the platform. And if I have any questions, all I have to do is send an email to email@example.com, and they’ve always got the answers, or they can immediately arrange the bookings for me’, says Jeroen.
Shypple makes it easy to import all the products Toppy needs to sustain its growing online business. Jeroen says, ‘Shypple makes the tasks a lot more straightforward. It shows you exactly what you need to upload, and it steps you through the process. You don’t have to constantly worry that you’ve left something out. It’s much less stressful than trying to do it all on your own.’
For Jeroen, working with Shypple has brought peace of mind and clarity to a part of his business that used to be overly complicated and time-consuming. ‘The communication, the forms, the price quotes... It's all done digitally now. That means everything is neatly structured and easy to keep track of. It’s a very pleasant way of working. There are no more endless threads of emails for every single shipment. Now, I just open up the platform and all the information is right in front of me.’
Jeroen says there is no comparison between working with Shypple and working with the traditional forwarder in the past. ‘But if I had to estimate, I would say that working with Shypple gives me 80% more peace of mind and makes my job 80% easier’, he says.
‘Everything just works the way it’s supposed to. We don’t have time to spend all day just working on organising a shipment’, says Jeroen. ‘With Shypple, it’s just as easy as booking a flight. I would definitely recommend Shypple to anyone who wants to be able to ship containers without all the hassle. Now, I’ve got more time to focus on the things that I really want to be doing.’
Want to know more about what Shypple can do for your organisation? Contact us today for a demo.