Boxed wholesale shopping app expands nationwide [Interview]

Image via Boxed

After the release of Boxed on the East Coast of the US earlier this year, the wholesale shopping app has now expanded to cover the entire country. Formed by former executives from Zynga, and Flurry, Boxed brings its bulk-purchase shopping experience to users without the need for membership fees.

Boxed allows shoppers on iOS and Android devices to browse hundreds of bulk goods, from groceries to health and beauty items, and purchase them directly from the app, with free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Since launch, the average Boxed order has climbed to over $100.

We had a chance to chat with Boxed CEO and founder Chieh Huang about the app’s early growth and success, and what to expect from here.

Inside Mobile Apps: Coming from a gaming background, what are some of the most important things the Boxed team has learned during the app’s development and launch?

Chieh Huang: Our gaming background gave us insight into how to create a fun, entertaining and engaging digital experience. However, it didn’t teach us much about the physical world of commerce. The downside was that we had to gather advice and learn a lot of different things very quickly like packaging and logistics.  But, the upside is that we were able to come into the industry from an incredibly fresh perspective. We didn’t like what was out there, so we wrote our own inventory management and warehouse management software, and also built our own proprietary analytics platform.

Though stressful at times, it’s been really fun developing best practices as we go. In gaming, there’s a playbook that we all learned from in order to create a great user experience. When it comes to mobile commerce in the wholesale vertical, no such playbook exists. I’d like to think of what we’re doing as taking our knowledge of the mobile gaming world, and fusing it together with the mobile commerce world.

Image via Boxed

IMA: What has the response been like from Boxed’s customers during its initial launch on the East Coast?

CH: It was actually a little overwhelming, but we managed to make it work. I think the initial response gave us the confidence to expand the service quite rapidly, moving from 2 states to 48 in just 90 days. We’re constantly listening to feedback about our product line and we’re always making changes to what we carry. For example, you’ll find a lot of organic foods and green cleaning products that weren’t there when we first launched.

IMA: What led Boxed to stock and ship items from its own warehouse, rather than partnering with third-party outlets? Does that help keep costs down for the consumer?

CH: It’s very easy for us to think of what’s best for our customers, because everyone in our office is a Boxed customer. We built the service to solve a problem that we actually all had. When you think of it from that perspective, it was a no-brainer for us to own the entire customer experience and create a seamless chain from app to delivery.

IMA: Are there plans to bring Boxed to more platforms, like Windows Phone?

CH: We’re always looking at additional platforms. Now that we’re live on smartphones and tablets for both iOS and Android, we’re looking at what to build next. Windows Phone is up there on our wish list!

IMA: What’s next for the Boxed platform? More individual items? More supported shipping locations?

CH: I think it’s a little of both. On the inventory front, we’re always adding new and interesting products. For example, we’ve started to add a lot of “green” cleaning products and organic foods like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Method Soaps and Organic Chia Seeds. The key for us is to curate a list of great products that our customers love, without adding so much that we become a laundry list of random things.

On the logistics front, we’re looking into more warehouses as we see more and more customers in different locations. Right now, we can provide free overnight shipping to New York, DC, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, and Philadelphia. We hit a ton of other places with free, two-day shipping. Ideally we’ll be able to provide our customers in just about every major metropolitan area with free overnight shipping. If you look at how far we’ve come in just a few months, I think it’s not an unrealistic goal.