On the occasion of Simpler‘s funding, we spoke with the Co-Founder and CEO of the company, Rania Lamprou.
Startupper.gr: Can you briefly tell us the story behind Simpler’s idea?
R. Lamprou: When COVID started, during the first lockdown, we all turned to online shopping because it was our only option. At that time I was renovating my apartment, so I made many online purchases from different stores and each time I felt the same discomfort when I arrived at checkout. Each time I was asked for the same information (contact, charge/send, payment) over and over again, in a process that at best took 3-4 minutes each time.
And it wasn’t just me. The vast majority of shoppers (70% on the web and 85% on mobile) abandon their “carts” in the last step, and one of the main reasons is the overly complicated and time-consuming checkout process.
Quite simply, if you make it difficult for the consumer to complete his purchase, he will simply abandon the process and go elsewhere.
Having worked at adtech for years, I’ve seen from within what this means from the perspective of the merchant as well, namely millions of dollars in lost revenue. However, businesses still only optimize the so-called “top of the funnel”, while tending to neglect the last stage and probably the one with the biggest impact – that of checkout.
I was thinking there must be a better way. If I can use social logins (e.g. Google, Facebook) to log into a website, why shouldn’t I be able to use such a service to checkout? An independent service that is the source of truth for my data, so that I can register it once and then be able to reuse it in every eshop I buy, without having to share sensitive data with each individual site or create accounts. And then, why not have all my purchases gathered from all the stores in one place and instead I should have to look for an order among my thousands of emails? That’s how Simpler was born.
The founding team consists of Rania Lamprou, Alexandros Kyriakopoulos and Spyros Mandekis. We have all known each other for over a decade, since the years of university (Athens University of Economics and Business). We come from different backgrounds with complementary skills and experiences.
I have a background in finance, but I have always been involved with Startups – from Pinnatta to Avocarrot (later Glispa & Market) where I had the opportunity to move from leading positions to sales and product with teams in 6 countries.
Alexandros, having a technical background, worked for years in Investment Banking in Zurich first at Credit Suisse as a director and then as a leader of the technical team that built Vontobel’s new asset management platform.
Spyros founded his own company Nestcargo and then had engineering lead positions in Glispa, Market Group and Plum Fintech.
Simpler was founded in early 2021, with headquarters in London and a subsidiary in Athens. Now we are 11 people and we are growing both in London and Athens.
Startupper.gr: What gap in the market does Simpler fill and how? And what stage is the company’s product at now?
R. Lamprou: Global ecommerce retail sales reached 4.9 trillion dollars in 2021 and are expected to reach 6.4 trillion dollars in 2024.Over 2 billion people shop online, yet the whole process of buying online has remained the same over the years: complex, time-consuming and annoying for the consumer. The vast majority of buyers abandon their carts, which is translated into lost revenue of billions of dollars for merchants. At every step, at every click of the checkout process, a percentage of customers is lost.
The checkout stage, the so-called “checkout funnel” is very often neglected, although we can easily influence it and have a huge impact on the conversion rate of visitors to customers.
Simpler solves this problem by making it as simple as possible for consumers to make online purchases, giving them a single “shopping passport”, so that each purchase is made with 1 click, in seconds.
The first numbers from the e-shops with which we cooperate show a double-digit increase in the conversion rate of visitors to customers, a decrease in cart abandonment, while it is also impressive that we have cases where 70% of our merchants’ orders are now made through Simpler, significantly reducing cash on delivery, which for many merchants is problematic and still remains gigantic in Greece.
Startupper.gr: You are active in the fast-growing field of e-commerce and especially in the critical checkout. Competition is everywhere, from big fintechs and cards to Startups. How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
R. Lamprou: As a checkout company we are in the golden mean of e-commerce and paytech. Unlike companies that only deal with the payment part, Simpler handles the entire flow of the checkout, which is a superset of the payment methods as well, since it contains all the information it needs to send an order. We are what we call the “purchasing identity” of the user so that he can buy everywhere, anything and anytime, within seconds.
Through a card the user pays, while through Simpler the user buys. In this sense, for us all companies that provide payment methods are potential partners. For example, using Simpler the user can currently pay by card, later having the option to pay by installments, or by cryptocurrencies or any other payment method he wishes.
Also, what we consider to be the biggest innovation in online shopping is that we offer what we call Headless or “remote” checkout. This completely changes the terms of the game, disconnecting the checkout from the online store for the first time. It gives the consumer the opportunity to buy a product directly in a simple step, simply by clicking on a “link” to an advertisement, on social media, on newsletters, blogs, etc. or by scanning a QR code gor example in a product, or in an advertisement in a magazine, or on television.
The important innovation here is that these Checkout links or QR codes do not take you to the website, so you can follow all the steps (add to cart -> cart -> checkout and fill out a long form) but they take you directly to the checkout page for the product you want to buy, dramatically shortening the process: from the initial intention to purchase to the shipment of the order with a simple step.
This “remote” checkout technology is a powerful weapon for digital agencies as well, as they can use it in their campaigns, and significantly increase their RoAS. We will soon be announcing major partnerships for this product.
Startupper.gr: Can you tell us about the recent funding?
R. Lamprou: We completed the first funding round of the company of 1 million euros in the summer of 2021 led by VF3 (VentureFriends’ third fund), with the participation of the English fund MMC Ventures, as well as angel investors from fintech, ecommerce and technology.
Startupper.gr: What are the challenges of a VC funding at an early stage, how did it help you and how will you use this funding?
R. Lamprou: When we started discussions about the funding round the company was indeed at a very early stage. We were lucky because we found investors who not only have experience in this field, but were just as passionate as us in terms of the plan and vision of the company and we had very good chemistry.
These funds are already being channelled into growing the team with the right foundations, incorporating people who are at the top of what they are doing, in order to create a strong core that can bring the company to the next stage, that of rapid expansion in European markets.
Startupper.gr: Do you have customers in Greece? If not, why is it so? And in general, what role can it play for a Startup to have customers and funding from its “headquarters”, if a Startup can have a base.
R. Lamprou: Greece for us was the market where we started, in order to confirm that the product works and performs as we would like and that both merchants and consumers benefit from it, each on his own side.We worked closely with various merchants in Greece and built a very strong product that they now started to offer themselves to other traders, which strengthens our confidence in the plans we have for the next day. Greece certainly helped us to quickly confirm that we have a strong product and now with confidence we turn to the rest of Europe, which is also the company’s goal.
Startupper.gr: How do you see Greece as the headquarters for a Startup? How is it in comparison with a country like the UK?
R. Lamprou: We are an English company with offices in London and Athens. The DNA of the company is European and besides, with the new current data where the need for a more flexible way of working has been highlighted, we aim to continue to grow the team regardless of what the employee’s base is. Surely if a company has a goal to spread to other markets beyond Greece, it would be advisable to have integrated extroversion in all its plans.
Startupper.gr: How do you approach the talent issue?
R. Lamprou: Mainly research and development will take place in Greece. So far we do not face any issue in attracting talent, on the contrary, we see that there is now a plethora of people with experience from previous generations of Startups but also from abroad, looking for the right foundations to go back to Greece. Top professionals of their kind will always be looking for the ideal package, and this is normal. For us an ideal package consists of various things, including a competitive fee, a package of stock options to all staff, an attractive product that moves in a rapidly growing industry, everyday life based on a culture that harmonizes with the personal values and needs of our people and a team that is a group passionate about changing online shopping in Europe. When it comes to attracting talent to other countries, we have already recruited in London while at the same time preparing positions in other countries.
Startupper.gr: What are the next steps for Simpler?
R. Lamprou: Now the company has a complete product that can stand in markets with great demands. We will build on this to build the next generation of online shopping and expand into Europe in 2022.
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