Bringo Romania is not just another native mobile app. Bringo brings a personal shopping assistant concept on the domestic market, showing how important is the proactive attitude in delivery services industry. Bringo is about an intuitive app with employees chosen based on common sense; rare things these days.
More about how useful is this app in an EXCLUSIVE interview with Steve GEORGE, CEO Bringo Romania and Ovidiu CAPRITA, COO Bringo Romania, pointing out that the daily necessity is the handy innovation.
Bringo app is developed by the Romanian team of Ascend NetSolutions. How have you managed to get in touch with Ascend NetSolutions officials and to represent the company at present? What was your knowledge about Romania before coming here?
S.G.: I’ve been in Romania twice before, more for business, as I was working in IT previously. I’ve been here for a lot of different development activities. Romania, like most of the CEE market, is a very strong player when it comes to IT. That’s why, many companies from Germany, Sweden or UK choose Romania to outsource their IT and app development services.
Also, Romania works now more like an entrepreneur hub. I’m a well-rounded entrepreneur with 15 years of digital marketing, social network engagement and community development, and Bucharest is developing a lot in this area.
Another strong point of Romania is the fact, that the urban population is fluent in English more so than Hungary or Poland. I knew of this before coming here.
The connection with Ascend NetSolutions came naturally after we met at a high-profile event. The Romanian team spoke to me about a professional delivery service, Bringo and upon learning more, it felt like a perfect match. The process of combining the best options from Oliviera, Star Taxi and adding the unique aspects of a delivery service within 90 minutes felt like a project I wanted to drive forward.
It has been already a year since Bringo app was launched. How would you outline the profile of Bringo user?
O.C. Bringo users cannot be classified into a single category, there are many categories of customers. We have clients that enjoy the way Bringo offers them time, because they want to spend time with the family, or some ME time. There are customers who are driven by need or want for products they forgot to buy when at the store.
We also have customers for whom it’s simply impossible to go shopping, such as mothers with babies, differently abled customers like the blind or people with reduced mobility. Their feedback was fantastic. It was something like: “Bringo saved my life!” or “Thanks Bringo for coming to Romania!”.
The quality of Bringo services was perceived as being brought from the West, but Bringo is a Romanian service developed by Romanians.
S.G. It’s too early to sketch the client profile as I’ve been at Bringo for a couple of months. However, our customers are the urban and suburban families and professionals; they look for comfort, better allocation of time and resources and place emphasis on service and experience.
O.C. We encourage our delivery team to do everything they can to satisfy the client, to keep in touch with them, to advise them when appropriate. Bringo app allows users to buy products from over 20 stores with a choice between 50,000 products. We are a delivery service which ensures our buyers receive their orders in 90 minutes or less. To keep with our value proposition, we have special assistants in partner stores, who receive the order at the same time as the delivery agents and that helps in the overall process.
Currently, Bringo app is available only in Bucharest. Do you plan to develop it in other Romanian cities or maybe in other countries?
O.C. Yes, we plan to expand outside the Capital in 2017. We haven’t decided yet which ones, but it’s the bigger and denser big cities. In regards to international expansion, this is in our plan, but not for the moment. We want to develop the business organically, and work on our value proposition, unique features, and user experience.
S.G. We don’t want to cross borders aggressively and go all out without a firm plan. We are aware that we must keep a balance between the number of customers and the numbers of delivery agents. Our values are to offer our clients the best and affordable experience. We strive to be a native and intuitive app even to those who have never had an experience with mobile shopping.
O.C. We want to be able to provide our services at the highest level. Therefore, we will expand Bringo Romania strategically. We will make Bringo a profitable business model based on collaboration and social values; Star Taxi and Oliviera are both apps developed by Ascend Netsolutions.
You started with 13 partner-stores and now your portfolio counts over 20 partner-stores. What are company’s plans for this year-end in this respect, but for 2017?
S.G. By the end of this year we will have 25 partners in our portfolio, targeting 30 by Spring 2017. Our main partner is Carrefour with almost 35,000 products on sale. Also, we are currently partnered with Metro, Selgros and several specialty stores starting with toy stores, flower shops up to wineries and pharmacies. Of course, we want Kaufland, Mega Image and Lidl in our portfolio and hope to have these powerful partners in 2017.
O.C. And maybe, when this project will be developed at the highest level possible and our customers will demand it, we will offer 24h/day Bringo service.
Toward what type of stores, the Bringo users have turned their interest?
S.G. Hypermarkets and supermarkets. Groceries and everyday items make up to 90 percent of shopping needs. There is an increasing need to have luxury, and health and beauty brands, which sees the fastest, change in trends. These are some of the insights gained over the last 6 weeks.
And yet … where have you inspired from in this project?
O.C. Ascend NetSolutions is a software development company. We are developing software solutions for big clients such as Vodafone, ING, Farmacia Dona… We also develop our own client-related projects such as Star Taxi or Oliviera.
After we sold Oliviera, our colleague Mihai Paun, CEO Ascend NetSolutions, came up with the idea of creating an app that would allow people to do their shopping and to get the products delivered in the shortest time possible.
After we decided on Bringo, we researched and found that this type of service is rapidly growing in the U.S. and Western Europe. For example, Instacart – the biggest American grocery delivery service, was launched in 2014 and now it’s a USD 2 billion company.
So, we can say that we developed our project in concurrence with our peers in the US. The trend now is delivery on demand! And this means ‘I want to buy it and I want it now!”
How many personal assistants / delivery persons are in the Bringo team?
O.C. Now we have 15 persons. Our goal is to reach at least 25 delivery guys as soon as possible, so we could get anywhere in the city where our services are required, especially in new residential centers where there is a lack of stores nearby.
S.G. And because we believe in gender and staff diversity, we employ men and women from various back grounds and I can proudly say, that women are the most serious, enthusiastic and determined delivery agents I have ever seen.
Ovidiu is responsible for the training program and hiring at Bringo. Bringo is not just a simple app and, at the same time, our team is not represented by run off the mill delivery guys. They are more than that, they are personal shopping assistants and our app is changing the way you look at retail shopping.
O.C. Moreover, Bringo Romania team is open to everyone, starting with young students searching for part-time jobs, retired persons willing to earn more or simply to occupy their free time, as well as people who don’t have enough experience in a specific field, but who enjoy doing shopping.
How do you select the future employees?
O.C. Common sense is the most important aspect, that is the main criteria by which we choose our employees. At the same time, we strive to find candidates who are driven to offer a phenomenal experience and a ‘Can Do’ attitude.
S.G. We like to say that we want to be the Starbucks of delivery services. It’s not just offering a good coffee, it’s more about creating the friendly ambience, courtesy, the human values. Yes, now it’s very easy to do mobile shopping, but we focus on good and friendly communication between the client and delivery person. That’s why a Bringo agent can offer you advice when it’s needed, and why the client gives outstanding feedback. Our delivery agents are the face of the company, they are the experience; knowing this from the start and developing a culture of exceptional service while the app assists in the process is of utmost importance. These are some of the aspects we imbibe into our training program.
O.C. It’s not just being polite! It’s about being pro-active and to anticipate what the client could need, it’s about getting involved in whatever it takes to provide a professional delivery service.
What is the value of a normal order and how many transactions occur daily?
O.C. Although is too early to define it, a normal order ranges between RON 120 – RON 150 and can reach to RON 400 – RON 450. We have also orders crossing RON 1000. All these for a delivery fee of RON 19.99. Most orders are from Northern Bucharest but the spread of orders is becoming increasingly consistent across the rest of the city.
How you find the eCommerce market in Romania, giving your experience acquired in Poland or Hungary and what are your forecasts in this respect?
S.G. In the CEE, Poland enjoys the highest eCommerce adoption and revenue, but Romania’s GDP is far ahead of that in most of Europe. Romanian FMCG market shows a steady and significant growth and many are changing their way of shopping.
Much like the rest of Europe, customers want to be well informed, they want to know the ingredients in their products. Bio and naturally sourced products are on the rise and we see this trend adopted at a fast rate in Bucharest vs. Budapest. This develops a curious case for companies of Western origins, they are now able to have pilot projects and validate the business case of ecommerce models in Romania before large scale integration and communication.
In fact, I urge entrepreneurs and enterprises to think of Bucharest as a hub for quick growth, development and smart work force.