“From a consumer point of view, I’ve always wanted to put things on autopilot and set up subscriptions for products I purchase frequently,” says Greg Alvo, CEO and founder of online subscription platform OrderGroove. From his youth in Florida, where he consistently forgot to order replacement strings for his tennis rackets, to his business travels around the country, where he keeps an eye out for the latest wrinkle-free shirt styles from Banana Republic, Alvo has realized the importance of consumers getting what they want, before they even realize they want it.
The New E-Commerce
Founded in 2008, OrderGroove is a platform that allows online consumers to subscribe to frequently purchased products via the website they’re ordering from, as well as discover products they may not have otherwise known about. When purchasing products from an e-commerce website, the OrderGroove platform allows the consumer to pre-order the product for future use, as well as subscribe to additional future orders and view suggested new and related products. Whether you’re purchasing a pair of socks, or packets of tea, OrderGroove’s platform allows you to schedule your next shipment—and the one after that, and the one after that, too.
And the consumer won’t even know OrderGroove had anything to do with the process. The subscription platform is integrated into the client’s website and retains the client’s branding. OrderGroove’s technology also includes email marketing and A/B tests, which help the client optimize new offers, such as whether a promotion for $5 off or five percent off is more effective. The data is then analyzed and presented back to the client, and OrderGroove works with them in order to increase customer retention as much as possible. “Our clients have built very strong brands, but they have trouble with maximizing customer lifetime value and customer retention. There’s been a ton of platforms out there that focus on getting new customers but not a lot of platforms focused on keeping customers coming back, and we do that through subscription commerce in a very flexible, customer-centric way,” Alvo says. Some of their clients include Johnson & Johnson, Teavana, Sally Beauty Supply, and Jockey.
Room for Growth
After a couple of rounds of financing in 2009 and 2010, OrderGroove went from five clients to the 40 clients the site has presently. The company now has 20 employees and a loft office space near Union Square. “When I started the business, most people maybe thought about the subscription model, but it was kind of an afterthought. Now it’s a top initiative for most of our clients and most of our prospective clients,” says Alvo.
The growth was unexpected enough that, at the beginning, Alvo had a hard time managing it. “I think I underestimated the size and the magnitude of our opportunity initially. Also, I underestimated the size of clients that would be pursuing us. In a lot of cases, the clients were asking us to help them execute and launch and power their subscription commerce programs. The technology was always built with a mindset that we were going to be powering very, very large programs. But initially, we weren’t staffed accordingly,” he says. To address the problem, says Alvo, “We hired more people, but most importantly, we were selective about who we brought on as clients and partners. With subscription commerce being very popular, it was important to us to find the right types of clients that were willing to learn and grow with us—which is not for everyone. We were fortunate to find a solid group of core clients who helped us get to where we are today.”
OrderGroove is hiring for over 10 roles at the moment, and Alvo expects that the company will have 40 employees by the end of the year. “We’re on a major hiring spree right now,” he says. Because of the company culture, which Alvo describes as passionate, open, and transparent, applicants go through a rigorous hiring process, which includes an initial phone call, followed by two in-person meetings with him and appropriate members of his staff. For the last step, Alvo gives the applicant an assignment for a mock of their specific role; depending on the job, the mock can require between 10 and 20 hours of preparation.
“Every day you spend more time working than you do doing anything else, so we want people that are excited about what they do,” says Alvo. “We’re all very excited and passionate about hiring. I think ultimately that’s the key to success.”
Michelle Court is the managing editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.