Coqtail specialises in e-commerce for fashion and lifestyle brands. Unlike many other agencies, Coqtail doesn’t have any clients—just partners. This approach fits extremely well with the challenges presented them by the companies they work with, and the bill for their work is based on performance, not how many hours they put into it. This way of doing things is the result of years of experience in the e-commerce business.
In 2010, Coqtail founder Coen Fredriks along with stylist Danie Bles was running the Netherlands’ first online glossy, ByDanie.nl. Each month, Bles would use the site to showcase must-haves, which could be purchased via the underlying webshops. “I wanted to further develop the site, so I began working with Lukas,” Coen says, “and from this Coqtail was born.”
Coqtail takes care of a wide range of activities, like building websites, Facebook applications, webshops, and banners, and covers a variety of platforms, like Magento and Wordpress. And everything is made-to-order. “At some point in time we decided that we had to specialise, and it made sense to focus on fashion and lifestyle since we already had experience there,” Coen explains. “We wanted a solid foundation for our work in a solution that was both scalable and flexible, and that’s why we chose Spree Commerce,” he says. “At that time it was the fastest-growing platform in the US and one of the few where you could separate the front and back-ends. This put us in place to disrupt the standard flow that lots of e-commerce solutions have and do some cool things to really surprise clients,” he adds.
Adding value for every client
Coqtail turned out to be a hit, winning a host of awards for design and usability. With this success, new types of requests started streaming in. “At one point,” Coen says, “we had to stop accepting new clients because we had existing clients to attend to and a pile of over 20 leads that were ready to be picked up.”
“Development especially couldn’t handle all of the assignments they were getting.” The biggest limitation was that everything was custom-built, which took a lot of time. To help alleviate some of this stress, they decided to develop a plug-and-play solution which standardised a part of the process. “We didn’t want to compromise on the design, but we did want to be able to re-use the tech,” he says, “All of our clients benefit from this type of optimisation and it also saves us a lot of time.” The last projects using the old way of doing things were delivered in January 2018, while the first plug-and-play systems went out in May. The lead time for a project dropped from three to six months to between five and ten days.
“Things are a lot calmer in the development team because of this. There’s less stress and more time to do cool stuff that can add value for all of our clients,” Coen notes. Despite all of this, having a nice website doesn’t guarantee success in the e-commerce world.
“All of our clients benefit from this type of optimisation and it also saves us a lot of time.”
— Coen Fredriks Founder at Coqtail
More than a webshop
“E-commerce goes way beyond webshops. These are just the tools,” Coen advises. “Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are also e-commerce. People used to buy clothes based on things like quality and brand image,” he says, “Now, it’s all about who is wearing what.”
For example, Coqtail manages the webshop of Dutch celebrity Maria Tailor. “If Trijntje Oosterhuis or someone else on The Voice wears Maria Tailor’s clothing, then sales go through roof on the weekend. You can immediately see the impact something like this has,” Coen says, and his outfit uses this experience as a litmus test for working with a company. Coen further explains, “If I see a brand has an enormous online following and lots of women are wearing their items on Instagram, and the company isn’t doing a lot of other things for their brand, there’s a lot of opportunities there.”
This also makes it clear why many companies struggle: in order to successfully create such a platform, experts from different areas need to be involved. For example, you need a social media marketer, a data analyst, a designer and a number of other people to pull it all off. “It’s impossible to have all of that in one role,” Coen says, “We work a lot with SMEs who have an e-commerce manager that lacks the right knowledge. These companies are often really good offline but don’t have the capacity to make it all work online.”
The results of seven years of experience
“We take everything out of your hands in e-commerce. The design, development, content, everything. And this business model has had a very positive reception,” Coen says, adding, “We take a percentage of the turnover. If there’s no success, then you only pay the setup fee.” “And people often ask us why we didn’t do this earlier, but the seven years it took to get us here were vital to us making this decision,” he notes.
Knowledge gained from these years of experience also goes for payments. “We’ve integrated every payment method at least once, and because of this we’ve seen everything. A payment method goes down and isn’t working for two days, and all you hear is ‘we’re working on it’. Try explaining that to your client,” he says. “You can call Mollie day and night and they’ll immediately get on it. And Mollie’s hands-on in making things better,” he explains.
“Recently, we got a call from one of your partner managers who gave us a solution to a problem we didn’t know we had,” Coen tells. “She asked if we thought it was a pain to log in separately in order to get insights on partners’ transactions, but no matter: she had not only thought of a solution, but built it as well! This was really cool. Mollie makes our work very easy.” he says. “And that meshes well with our business model: to completely take care of everything for our clients.”
“Mollie makes our work very easy. That meshes well with our business model: to completely take care of everything for our clients.”
— Coen Fredriks Founder at Coqtail
"We make sure the core product is good, and partners complete the picture.”
— Jonathan Heuvelmans, Virtuagym