Kooomo helps European retailers to turbo boost their sales

Dublin business Kooomo is on a mission to change the way that European e-commerce works and aims to boost sales for retailers undergoing a digital transformation.

Kooomo is a European e-commerce platform for expanding businesses.

Driven by more than two decades’ worth of e-commerce experience, the platform delivers solutions to medium and large enterprise customers that are quick to market, affordable and international, helping clients achieve maximum global digital sales while powering their online stores from end to end.

“We bring together bricks and mortar stores, online stores, marketplaces, warehouses, and distribution centres so that retailers and their teams can operate fluidly and transparently from anywhere in the world. Saving them time, money, and boosting return on investment”

Headquartered in Dublin, and with offices across Europe, Kooomo simplifies online retail by connecting sales channels, including online, in-store and via marketplaces to create the best possible experience for both its clients and their customers.

Driven by merchant demand, the Kooomo platform delivers a 360-degree digital commerce solution which is integrated with an eco-system of over 200 partners. 

Kooomo is trusted by world-renowned brands such as Morrisons, Umbro, SMEG, Kraft Heinz, Blauer USA, MotoGP, Avoca, Butlers chocolates among many others.

Powering e-commerce

“Before Kooomo, there was no tool available that could deal with the complexity of trading across European markets – dealing with multiple languages, currencies, VAT rates, varying product and promotional targeting and the complexity of fashion as a vertical, with new catalogues every season,” said CEO Ciaran Bollard.

“The opportunity for international growth is abundant for retailers – they just need the right platform to get them there”

“Kooomo was developed and used as an internal tool for 15 years at Zerogrey, our sister agency which is an e-commerce Specialist and we saw this as an opportunity to sell it independently to the market. The platform had the advantage of being simple to use, time-efficient, cost-efficient, and flexible across international markets.

“Now, Kooomo helps retailers turbo-boost their sales by connecting all sales channels under a single, highly advanced e-commerce platform. We offer a full enterprise solution that is affordable and gives retailers quick time to market, with access to over 200 1-Click partners, enabling them to future proof their e-commerce solutions.”

“We’re primarily addressing the European at present, but given the platform’s agility, we believe the states and the rest of the world will soon follow. The Covid-19-led boom in online sales has caused an impressive growth of the European e-commerce market. More people are buying and selling from international retailers than ever before.”

According to data by Finaria.it, the revenue of the European e-commerce market is expected to hit $465bn this year, 30pc more than before the pandemic struck.

“So the opportunity for international growth is abundant for retailers – they just need the right platform to get them there,” said Bollard.

Affordable and customisable

Bollard said that the Kooomo platform is quick to market, affordable, international, and customisable e-commerce platform.

“As a European based company that’s driven by merchant demand, our platform integrates the needs, wants and requirements of retailers, not only to satisfy consumer expectations, but also compliance standards.

“There’s no need to invest heavily in different technologies or different storefronts – just an affordable, unified approach to conducting e-commerce business. We bring together bricks and mortar stores, online stores, marketplaces, warehouses, and distribution centres so that retailers and their teams can operate fluidly and transparently from anywhere in the world. Saving them time, money, and boosting return on investment.”

Setting out the vision

Giovanni Meda is founder and chief security officer of Kooomo.

“He set out to create the software following a need by Zerogrey. Their e-commerce managers had many fashion customers that needed a digital solution that could manage the complexity of international trading. The whole idea was to leverage our understanding of the market and we already had the product – so after I joined, we put together an experienced team to develop all other aspects of the company such as documentation, people to sell the product, and partnerships.”

Bollard comes from a pedigree of Irish technology heritage. “I come from a sales background but got my first taste for entrepreneurship when I was working for a company called CBT Systems. It was one of the first Irish companies to quote on the Nasdaq. When I joined there were only 65 people, but as I left that number was closer to 2,000.

“So I experienced a lot of growth at that company. With my job, it was kind of like running my start-up within the business, because I had a target and I had territories to look after.

“That’s where I pretty much decided to set up my own business. I eventually went on to co-found Muzu – an online music video platform. After 10 years as an entrepreneur running my own digital music business, and seeing the size of the market opportunity and there being very few vendors with a compelling proposition relative to the market size, I made the conscious decision to move into e-commerce.”

Start-up ecosystem

Bollard says the Irish business start-up ecosystem is improving. “But I still feel investors are more conservative in backing business compared with the US, but I do think this is a trend that is European and not just an Irishism.

“The funding options for businesses doing less than €3m in revenue are very limited. Above €3m things open up.

“Debt is becoming a more attractive option. Ireland has a great reputation on the international stage for best-in-class software development but commercialising that software requires funding and, in my view, it’s still very challenging in the current Irish and European traditional VC investment instruments when you are sub-€3m in revenue.

“If you can fund your business through trading-based finance, then it is a very good option. It means you’re not diluting your equity or losing control of the business in the early days when you’re most vulnerable, to secure the funding you need to grow.”

The fundamentals

Bollard said that no matter how advanced technology becomes, many traditional values of business will always apply.

“People buy from people first and foremost, customers typically stay three-to-five years with a platform so building trust and strong relationships help you overcome the many challenges and complexities that are normal in launching and managing an e-commerce solution.

“There are times when entrepreneurs like myself tend to drive things forward hard and fast with a ‘go, go, go’ mentality and I think that we’re wired a bit differently to others in that we expect that same mentality of everyone else – at least I do sometimes! I forget that we are all wired differently.

 “I think it’s important to regularly check yourself and try not to rush into things too quickly, as some big decisions call for quiet reflection and taking the time to process them correctly. You also need to bounce ideas off your colleagues, and it is important to actively engage with the right people, including your extended professional network and relevant advisory boards.

“Sometimes it can feel like ‘the buck stops with me’ but you should realise that there are lots of people around you who you can reach out to for help, support, and advice. That’s something I continually check myself and consider.”

Bollard says the Kooomo team makes use of cloud technologies and scrum methodologies to stay agile. “We primarily use Jira to collaborate, estimate, organise and plan the work that goes into our ‘sprints’. We use scrum boards with specified WIP Limits to prioritise the work and generate throughput of tasks to completion.

“Slack is used for quick communication with team members and to remind us to do certain tasks and Google Meet is utilised to facilitate all sprint events such as the Daily Standup while we’re all working remotely during the pandemic.

“And finally, we use Reetro to gather feedback, frame conversations, and decide on actions during our Retrospectives so we can make constant iterative improvements.”

Have a good business plan

His advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to stay focused. “When you’re putting together your initial business plan, I believe sometimes there’s a tendency to broaden it in an attempt to appeal to the masses. I don’t think that works very well and my view is that you’re much better off focusing on your niche and not trying to be everything for everyone.

“It’s best to concentrate on improving the features that set your product or service apart from the competition, as ultimately, customers will come looking for specific expertise on a product or sector, not ambiguous solutions, or services without a clear USP or target market.

“If you’re just starting out, you should also aim to get your first reference customer. Use your existing professional network or even your friends to find other people who you can get on your advisory board. This will give you a bit of credibility and can potentially get you that first customer who will help to build and improve your product.

“It’s also a good idea to look for feedback and test the concept, so get out there and network with fellow entrepreneurs, as they are typically very helpful. I know I would personally be very supportive of any other first-time entrepreneur because I realise how difficult it can be when you are first starting out. Yes, it’s important to have the product right but don’t hold back on launching; get out there and get your first customers, references and credibility are key building blocks to unlocking growth.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 1 July 2021