Bellhops

Bins & Liners Pilot

How might we test reusable containers in place of cardboard boxes as an alternative packing system?

Overview

About the pilot

At Bellhops, we explored the potential of introducing a novelty aspect to the moving experience through a new packing alternative. Instead of purchasing overpriced, wasteful cardboard boxes, we piloted a program that enabled customers to pack in reusable IKEA FRAKTA bags (liners). Then, on move day, the truck would arrive equipped with plastic bins that the packed liners were transferred into. We called this system of making packing less painful and the moving process more efficient, “Bins & Liners.” I led piloting a proof of concept in 2 markets (Chattanooga and Atlanta).

Team: operations, truck drivers, Bellhops (workforce), workforce management / training, customer success, brand art director + videographer, PR

Process

Operations

I first needed to source, brand, and distribute 100 bins to 5 drivers in Atlanta. This required drivers to opt-in by agreeing to keep the bins on their trucks for a 3 month period. Since the bins were originally shipped to our Chattanooga HQ, I transported the bins from TN to GA one weekend—by intercepting their scheduled moves.

Challenge: Many of our contracted drivers also used their trucks for other part-time contracts (such as overnight deliveries). Keeping bins in their truck between moves posed a challenge for some required to maintain a completely empty truck for these other delivery jobs.

Branding on a budget

A design intern and I spent hours at the public library printing vinyl decals of the Bellhops logo to imprint the bins—saving us thousands of dollars in screen printing fees.

Training

I partnered with the customer success team to develop internal process documentation for qualifying and pitching customers booking by phone including instructional scripts and FAQs.

I also partnered with the workforce management team to create an online training program for Bellhops (movers) using Lesson.ly LMS. I assisted with organizing in-person training sessions in pilot markets to reinforce techniques.

Product integration

Soliciting participants

I partnered with product and engineering to introduce screening logic to our order flow in order to qualify customers booking moves in pilot markets—prompting an interstitial/modal upon order confirmation. A modified version of the automated confirmation email was triggered for moves expressing interest (using "I'm interested" CTA parameters) to remind those who opted in to purchase bags before their move.

Amazon analytics

I was able to find a clever workaround for confirming opt-ins by using an Amazon Seller affiliate program to track how many customers "converted" by following through with purchasing bags (online)—since we didn't have a productized solution for tracking opt-ins at this early stage.

Formative research

Ethnographic studies

I shadowed moves weekly to observe the process in action—interviewing customers and Bellhops about their likes and dislikes of the system.

Customer interviews

I recorded interviews with customers on move day which proved to be a powerful method for circulating my findings to the broader team. These videos archived first-person feedback in realtime while capturing the context of use in the background.

Customer surveys

We also sent surveys pre- and post-move in order to capture input from those we couldn't shadow.

Documentary-style marketing

I partnered with our in-house brand and marketing teams to film a case study of a family who recently participated in the pilot. We also worked together to develop simple illustrations for instructing customers.

Future-state vision

The Bins & Liners program was part of a greater end-to-end journey map we developed to illustrate a future-state vision of our service experience.

  • established pre-calculated moves as recommendations in the order flow which gave us an advantage over the competition
  • findings around factors (other than inventory) that contribute most to completion time
  • initiated and implemented operational process changes involving workforce training and protocol

“Packing the bags was easier than taping boxes together and packing boxes. The bags were easier to carry for the guys—they could carry 2 bags at one time.”

Pilot Participant

Outcomes

Successful proof of concept:

  • This method proved to cut down on the expense of single-use, wasteful cardboard and is generally easier since no assembly or disassembly of boxes is required
  • Customers enjoyed the ease of use, environmentally-friendly aspect, and low-cost alternative to buying boxes
  • Bellhops (movers) were bought-in because bins stacked neatly eliminating the need to play “Tetris” with irregular boxes
  • Offered a novelty aspect to the experience = potential mnemonic value-add to the brand
  • Pursued partnership opportunities with IKEA who proposed a co-branded promotion and purchase discount—since our offering aligned with their sustainability initiative


Challenges to overcome:

  • Required truck drivers to store plastic containers on their trucks permanently occupying space between moves
  • Needed to explore solutions for reusing/returning the liner component (IKEA bags) since most customers didn’t see a use for keeping 20+ bags long-term
  • Determine the value of manufacturing Bellhops-branded bags vs. continuing to use IKEA-branded bags going forward


Read more on my Medium post Unbox Move Day