How Hansapost went through a business transformation process to become a “digital-first” company and a local market leader with the help of Finestmedia.
Hansapost is an e-commerce platform that offers something for the whole family. You can purchase electronics, quality home decor, find the missing piece for your garden, find sports equipment, order clothes for yourself, your children and much more – in its essence, it’s a modern day mall. It offers quality service 24/7, 365 days a year and everything is accessible online. The goods go through rigorous quality control and the service always aims to be as friendly as possible.
Hansapost started out in 1997 as a catalogue merchant and immediately received recognition in Estonia for its flexible service and for having a widerange of goods at affordable prices. In the 2000s, as the internet use was starting to become more wide-spread, the leadership at Hansapost recognised a huge market opportunity. They had developed a working logistics model of delivering goods to the customers and had an existing customer base. However, the sales cycle was slow and global competitors were showing the way that you can have lots more success, when you focus your efforts online.
The problem remained though: on how to execute this change? How to effectively transform a catalogue business into a digital one? And as Hansapost at the time had many similarly sized competitors, how to gain an online market advantage before its competitors?
Initially, they struggled to separate themselves from the pack and launched an online shop, that was not aligned with their business goals. The back-end system relied on lots of manual work and they had a very small IT team to carry out improvements. Hansapost had ambitious plans, however they lacked skilled resources and the infrastructure to support their goals.
Strategy and Solution
Late 2014, partnership agreement was made with Finestmedia to help transform the IT system and their business as a whole – steer the business focus of Hansapost away from catalogue sales and onto an e-commerce platform.
The first collaboration that was agreed upon was doing an analysis of the current state of the Hansapost IT system. Finestmedia sent in analysts and started working closely with the leadership team in Hansapost to break down the larger goal into achievable tasks & projects.
Steering-meetings were quickly established and they remain an integral part of the collaboration today. In these bi-weekly meetings, business and development strategy is discussed hand in hand.
“We have helped Hansapost to keep their focus on their long-term goals and offer resources and the know-how for reaching these goals.”Priit Penjam, CEO of AS Finestmedia
At the time, the need for manual work held Hansapost and its online business back in a significant manner. This was holding back sales and limited valuable time that Hansapost staff could have alternatively used on strategic tasks.
For example, integrations with logistics partners were not optimal and there was no automated dropship solution. Hansapost.ee lacked a Product Information Management or PIM system and instead relied on manual inputs of each product, leading to errors and lots of repeated tasks in MS Access. The integrations with suppliers were not automated either and on average it took 2-6 weeks to add products to Hansapost.ee for each new supplier.
Step by step, the whole IT architecture was replaced and updated with reliable, secure, automated alternatives. The improvements were incremental and included: anew CMS, implementation of the EPiServer back-end system, implementation of Akeneo PIM, integrations with Directo ERP, integration with a dropship solution, integration with multiple payment solutions and an overall integration layer (ESB) to speed up future developments. Finestmedia even developed a custom application called FeedManager to automate supplier integrations and it helped to completely alter the method of adding products from a new supplier to the Hansapost e-commerce platform. A task that previously took on average 2-6 weeks, changed to a task that normally takes two days.
The results speak for themselves. Hansapost has been excellent in their ability to always push ahead and Finestmedia has enabled to make the goals into a reality. Since the start of 2015, the following has happened:
- Hansapost.ee now holds 260 000 SKU or Stock Keeping Units compared to 30 000 back in 2015 (8.7x more);
- Over 35000 development hours have already been invested by Finestmedia to the Hansapost partnership;
- Over 2500 new improvements have been released to help take Hansapost products to the next level.
Hansapost is now the largest e-commerce platform in Estonia – it contains over 810 000 products from 160+ suppliers and has over 110 Million page views per year. Hansapost has grown from 30 empoyees in late 2014, to 130 employees now. In 2019, its revenue is expected to reach over 100 Million Euros for the first time in its existence, making it a 10x growth compared to when the partnership first started with Finestmedia back in late 2014.
An excellent example on how the full lifecycle partnership has worked between Hansapost and Finestmedia is the business merger of Hobby Hall and Hansapost in 2018 – and it has spurred new opportunities for everyone involved.
Hobby Hall had a similar background to Hansapost and was originally one of the leading catalogue sales businesses in Finland. However, they were struggling with having an online-first focus and similarly to Hansapost.ee in 2014, it had many deficiencies in its e-commerce platform.
Finestmedia was immediately consulted to give its assessment and help craft the strategy of the merger. Once the merger was final, Finestmedia carried out the integration of the existing IT systems behind Hansapost.ee and HobbyHall.fi – and released the new Hobby Hall e-commerce platform in summer 2019.
It was a merger of similar-sized companies, yet the digital know-how and execution was largely trusted with Hansapost and Finestmedia – together they helped to fully transform HobbyHall.fi to a modern e-commerce platform – giving Hobby Hall the opportunity to focus on marketing. Something that has made them successful in the past.