Today we officially launched Sticker Mule Italy so it seemed fitting to explain how we got here. 5 years ago when we started Sticker Mule our vision didn’t reach beyond the United States. International business is complicated and we were a small startup. We thought it best to focus on growing at home and set out telling everyone we could about Sticker Mule.
Our background made us inclined to engage with designers and developers so we tried our best to befriend these communities. It didn't take long to realize that that the Internet is international and many of the best developers and designers live outside the United States.
To properly engage these communities we needed to ship internationally at a minimum. So, early on, we contacted UPS to get rates, added international ship methods to our web site and naively thought we were done. Shortly thereafter, the complaints came in: "my order is stuck in customs" "my order is late" "I got hit with an unexpected $80 charge to clear customs." It turns out selling internationally isn't as simple as adding international ship methods to your web site.
We eventually developed our roadmap on how to become an international ecommerce business. This guided our progress as we quietly made numerous improvements to help our international customers including:
- Shipping worldwide quickly and with tracking.
- Ensuring orders clear customs without problems.
- Eliminating import duties (we pay them for you).
- Reducing shipping costs worldwide.
- Introducing free shipping to Western Europe.
- Supporting the metric system.
- Supporting the Euro.
Along the way, our team grew to become international as well. More than 50% of our core team lives outside the United States. David North has been with us since our inception and lives in England.
Brian Quinn works out of Ireland. Lucas Húngaro is in Brazil. And, Andrea Giannangelo & Stefano Di Luca are in Italy. Already, we've seen tremendous growth internationally, year over year we grow faster abroad than in our home country and that will accelerate as we execute our roadmap.
If it seems as though we stumbled into becoming international that's because we did. We didn’t plan to have an international team or sell internationally. Our sole intention was to build an amazing customer experience and it turns out expanding beyond the U.S. and hiring the best people in the world were necessary to pursue that goal.
Admittedly, we even stumbled into starting our international expansion in Italy. One night, I came across the Unixstickers website and started a live chat session with Stefano Di Luca who happened to be Italian. You don’t have to chat for long with Stefano to realize you would love to work with him so we kept in touch.
Eventually he introduced us to his partner Andrea Giannangelo who also left an amazing impression on us. We immediately knew we wanted Andrea & Stefano on our team and I’d like to think they knew right away they’d enjoy working with us. A few months later Sticker Mule Italy was born. We haven’t decided what country we’re headed to next, but if you’re interested in being a part of our journey we’re hiring. :-)