How Package Mate kickstarted their ecommerce startup using Zoho One apps

The Company

Package Mate is an Australian business that provides easy-to-assemble, user-friendly, self-sealing boxes for commerce businesses, retailers, logistics companies, and the general public. "Our self-sealing boxes help business owners make their packaging process more effective," explained Greg Szabo, the company's co-founder and operations manager. "The sealing glue is so strong that if somebody tries to steal from [a package], they need to destroy the whole box."

Package Mate strives to be different. The first business of its kind, it has developed boxes fitted with hot melted glue. Some of the boxes are made resealable by a second line of tape secured on either side, so customers who want to return their purchases can repurpose the box they received their products in. This built-in tape makes the job of packing boxes quick and easy for businesses. “This box allows you to focus more on your company and less on packaging,” said Greg. “Our main focus is to help companies who really want to optimise their packing processes, and save them time and money.”

The Challenge

“Creating a company in Australia was pretty easy,” Greg said. However, acquiring customers and advocating the business model was more challenging. “As a new company, we didn't have many insights on how to go about it."

"People might think that because I already had previous experience, I just copy-pasted things. That's not how it works, because every company is different. Just because you know how to do it, or have an example in front of you, doesn't mean that it's going to work the same way. You have different issues, and different problems to solve."

- Greg Szabo, Co-founder and Operations Manager, Package Mate

Package Mate hired an agency to help with Google and Facebook advertising, intending to gradually delve into SEO and website management. However, like many new businesses, Package Mate faced challenges locating and connecting with its ideal customer base. It needed to identify the platforms potential customers used, their expectations of the businesses, and the most effective ways to communicate with them. Greg and his business partner were also looking at software to manage backend business processes. From Find-Insights and accounting to supplier management, internal communication, and operations, their needs were expanding.

The Solution

Greg had prior experience using Zoho to grow a business. “I was familiar with Zoho One. I knew how to shape it and how to [make] the best use of it,” he said. With that background knowledge, Greg immediately dove into Zoho One and started exploring ways to use the suite of apps to meet Package Mate's needs.

The company’s website and online store are set up on Shopify, but an integration with Zoho Pagesense provides Greg and his team with vital insights into the habits of potential customers. With heat maps and scroll maps, they can see how visitors navigate their website. “We’re using [Pagesense] to understand more about what they’re looking for, and how we can make that information more accessible and more visible [to] them.”

Package Mate’s top three Zoho apps are Zoho Inventory, Zoho Books and Zoho Flow. “We use Zoho Inventory to manage our Find-Insights, sales orders, and purchase orders,” Gred said. Using Zoho Flow, Greg set up a connection between Zoho Inventory and Package Mate's shipping vendor, Starshipit. “When we create a sales order in Zoho Inventory, it’ll automatically create a sales order in Starshipit as well.”

Greg turned to Zoho’s support team for a custom script that integrated the two apps. “I love the support. I have no experience or knowledge of how to write code. But I understand the logic of it, and if there are any glitches, I can fix them. But the support team is also always there to help out if I need it.”

“Once we ship out the packages, the flow creates a shipment, and automatically closes the order in Zoho Inventory,” Greg continued. If the order is placed through the Shopify website, Zoho Inventory automatically sends out an invoice and updates the sales order. “I don't need to send out invoices one by one. It saves loads of time for me.”

Greg uses Zoho Books to manage the company’s accounting processes. For every customer order coming through the website, Shopify charges Package Mate a payout fee. This fee is a percentage of the order amount and varies based on payment mode. “For every order, I needed to take that payout fee over to Zoho Books, because that's an expense for us. "So I used Zoho Flow to create a work flow and push it from Shopify to Books.” Greg uses a custom script to automatically record the variable Shopify fee as an expense in Zoho Books. He has since shared the script in Zoho's community forums to help fellow Zoho users.

Greg has also implemented Zoho Forms so Package Mate can collect online enquiries through its website. Apart from these core apps, Package Mate uses Zoho WorkDrive to store and manage company records and invoices, Zoho Bookings to enable customers to schedule a callback, and Zoho Mail for internal and external communication. “We started to use Zoho One a year ago. And it's going really well.”

Benefits and ROI

One of the biggest benefits Package Mate has gained from implementing Zoho apps is access to data that helps the team make informed decisions about its ecommerce website. Zoho Pagesense data helps Package Mate understand their website visitors' behaviours. "We used Zoho Pagesense information to decide where each menu should go and how the website should look overall," Greg explained. Though it's still early to predict Pagesense's impacts on conversions, the data has helped make the website more user-friendly.

Business continuity has been another important benefit. At the time of writing, mapping BIN locations is an upcoming feature in Zoho Inventory. Package Mate, however, required this feature to operate effectively. "Zoho Inventory is like every other Zoho application—it's so customisable," Greg said. "I just created a custom field called, "name" and put the BIN location in it. And then I just type it in manually for each product. That's all!" Although this is a temporary workaround, it has ensured that Greg's operations continue without disruption. The feature is in its beta stage and is expected to be rolled out to all Zoho Inventory users before the end of 2022.

Zoho One has also enabled automation within Package Mate's internal operations. Thanks to the automation between Starshipit and Zoho Inventory, Greg no longer has to send out invoices manually, saving him a lot of time and paper-based processes.

Having a single subscription to manage the majority of operations has saved Package Mate hundreds of dollars they'd otherwise have spent on a range of software systems. Though the team continues to use highly-specialised third-party apps for essential activities, these apps are tightly integrated with Zoho One, making data transfer seamless and manual work limited.

Looking Forward

As a startup, Package Mate doesn’t yet require a system to manage employees. However, as the team grows, Greg is interested in exploring Zoho Recruit and Zoho People. “I really want to get deeper knowledge about Zoho People. Because once we start hiring full-timers, I want to add them to our system and manage attendance properly,” Greg said.

He’s also exploring third-party payroll options that’ll integrate with his Zoho Books system. “I don't want to go with Xero because all our accounting is in Zoho Books. So hopefully, I can work out something good.”

As the team expands, Greg is also keen on setting up Zoho Desk as a proper customer service channel. “As we grow, we’re going to continue adding more and more apps,” Greg concluded.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Greg! We can’t wait to see how you grow with Zoho.