Bring! – forget the old shopping lists!
Why is Swiss Post participating in a startup that offers an app for creating digital shopping lists?
Swiss Post is happy to support any tool that makes their customers’ lives easier. For this reason, it chose to invest in the startup called “Bring!” in April 2020. Bring! allows users to create shopping lists, share them with others and jointly plan the food shopping using their smartphone, tablet, smartwatch or Amazon’s Alexa.
Bring! has really captured the spirit of our time.Olivier Laplace, Investment Director, Swiss Post Ventures
Bring! is something of a digital shopping butler – it always knows what needs to be bought or what options there are for dinner that night. And the app certainly demonstrates its full potential when used in combination with other members on the platform. Family, friends or flatmates can save suggestions to a shared list, making sure you forget nothing during the big shop at the weekend. How is this done? Products on the shopping list are synchronized between the smartphones. Anyone can add their preferred product to the list or delete it afterwards, meaning all users have the latest version of the shopping list. The company also works together with Profital, the leading shopping guide in Switzerland. Profital belongs to Swiss Post subsidiary Direct Mail Company (DMC). In this way, Swiss Post benefits from additional synergies created with this cross-channel communication strategy.
In an interview with Oliver Laplace, the Investment Director at Swiss Post Ventures explains what Swiss Post hopes to gain from an investment in Bring! and what he considers important when it comes to participating in startups.
Oliver Laplace, why is Swiss Post investing in “Bring!”?
“Bring!” has really captured the spirit of our time. For us, it is exciting to see how and what the consumers are purchasing via the app, and how we can use this knowledge to our advantage. At the same time, by investing both in our employees and customers, we are demonstrating that we are moving with the times in terms of digitization. It also improves our standing as an employer when we work together with startups.
How has Bring! benefited from the collaboration with Swiss Post?
Here’s an example: Bring! is working together with Profital. Swiss Post successfully launched the Profital app for digital leaflets three years ago, a purchasing assistant especially useful for price-conscious consumers. With just one click, users receive an overview of all promotions currently running in their region. These digital leaflets are now also available with Bring! In relation to Swiss Post, this is helping us pursue a successful cross-channel communication strategy.
How has Bring! developed over the past few months?
Revenue is clearly on the rise. And Bring! now has more than 10 million users. It also received major interest when the coronavirus lockdown measures were introduced in the spring. There was a big drive back then to help older people. Creating shopping lists on your smartphone with Bring! and sharing them with others – you could say we were there at the right time with the right product.
Older people, for example, who were told to stay at home, were able to use their smartphone or tablet to draw up a Bring! shopping list. They then shared their list with someone who did not belong to a high-risk group and could pick up the items from the supermarket for them.
How do you proceed when assessing companies for a possible collaboration?
I visit the companies, get to know the people and gain an overall impression. Collaboration only makes sense when you get on with the people behind the company, and if we see a meaningful role for Swiss Post in such a venture. Context is thus important. There needs to be some link between a current or future Swiss Post service – along the entire value creation chain. Drones and robots, for example, have long been areas of investment for us. On the other hand, we would never invest in something like satellites for the simple reason that Swiss Post is not involved in space travel (he says, smiling).
You have been Head of Corporate Venturing at Swiss Post for three years now. How many startup companies have received investment from Swiss Post during this time?
Including Bring!, there are currently ten companies in which Swiss Post is involved to some extent. Since this department was set up in 2017, our aim has been to further explore new technology companies and business models. We are aiming to achieve “faster innovation” thanks to limited yet effective investment.
As part of the ongoing strategic development of its Development & Innovation unit, since 2017 Swiss Post has given all units throughout the Group the opportunity to financially invest in corporate ventures. This allows Swiss Post to further intensify its work with startups. Until now, the focus of collaboration has been on joint projects. Corporate venturing also facilitates a financial investment in companies through minority interests. Through participations such as these, Swiss Post is looking to become better acquainted with new technologies and business models, as well as secure its access to emerging markets.