They are amazingly successful. Launched 20 years ago, they have grown to an annual turnover of over €1B and employ over 3,000 employees. Throughout those years they have received numerous awards, including ones for best webshop and best brand in the Netherlands. And with an NPS of 69 it is one of the most beloved brands in their industry.
This last part is particularly remarkable. Because Coolblue doesn’t have any products of its own. Brands like Tesla and Apple are loved by their customers largely because of the iconic and distinct products they sell. But Coolblue just sells standard electronic equipment like any other website. All their products you can buy elsewhere too—and often even at lower prices.
So what are they doing different? Of course, their success depends on many factors. One of the things they do very well, for example, is delivery. After having relied on standard postal services for a while, they now run their own delivery service. This gives them more flexibility and more accuracy in getting their packages delivered to your door. And it also helps them add installation services and gives them full control over the entire customer journey.
What they also do very well is helping customers make the right choice. They go at length offering you information, reviews, video comparisons and instructions to make sure that you buy exactly the product you want. Even though you still could decide to buy the product elsewhere, offering all that information gives you the peace of mind as customer that they know what they are talking about and that they can actually answer questions and solve problems should you have them.
So, over the years they have effectively identified and removed all the pain points that customers might experience when buying electronics: from picking the right product to unboxing and installing it at home. Along that customer journey, they do about everything right.
But there is one other, crucial factor that makes Coolblue stand out and where they really leave the competition behind. Their secret of success is not a secret at all. It is in their tagline: “Anything for a smile.” Right, making you smile is what they aim for. At Coolblue this is not just a tagline. It is in everything they do, in their DNA. In other words, it is Coolblue.
What Coolblue does so well is making fun part of their overall value proposition. They do everything to make sure that buying a product from them and getting it delivered at home is a fun experience.
This is most obvious in how they communicate. Ordinary webshops typically communicate in a boring way. You get correct but boring confirmation messages, your product comes in a boring brown box, is delivered by a boring delivery service, and so on. Perfect service, no complaints, but boring.
Coolblue’s communication is very different. They don’t take themselves too seriously and communicate in an informal and fun way. Their website makes you smile, their emails make you smile and even their blue boxes and deliverers make you smile. Given that humor is very subjective, what they do is hard. There is a fine line between making customers smile and making customers laugh at you or irritating them with supposedly funny jokes. But Coolblue knows how to walk the line.
The nice thing about this strategy is that it works for employees too. If you want to work for Coolblue, you need to enjoy what you are going to be doing. Because if you don’t enjoy it, how can you make customers smile? And to make sure that people enjoy what they are doing, working for Coolblue has to be an enjoyable experience. Of course, they have their challenges too and working there stays work. But Coolblue’s fun-based strategy is a double-edged sword that, especially in tight labor markets, can be very effective to attract and keep both happy customers and happy employees.
This post was published earlier here on my forbes.com page.
Image credit: Getty