How Onport Empowered &Open To Launch a Gifting Marketplace.

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Lorcan

May 2nd, 2024

Customer Introduction

&Open, a global gifting platform, originated from the success of Makers & Brothers, founded by Mark and Jonathan Legge. Their serendipitous experience as Airbnb hosts led to the founding of &Open, aiming to enhance brand loyalty through thoughtful, sustainable gifting experiences.

Company Representative Jonathan Legge | Co-Founder | &Open

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1) Can you explain how the concept for &Open came about and the core idea behind the brand?

JL: “&Open is a global gifting platform working with clients like Airbnb, Etsy, Peloton, and Intercom to grow brand loyalty through thoughtful, sustainable gifting. &Open grew out of Makers & Brothers, a small e-commerce business with a global reach, founded by two of our co-founders—brothers Mark and Jonathan Legge—in the early 2010s. With a focus on good design, quality, and an element of the unexpected, Makers & Brothers soon became the go-to gift choice for a more thoughtful type of business gifting. It was a serendipitous experience as Airbnb hosts that led to the founding of &Open and the start of our relationship with Airbnb, our first customer. We experienced their gifting firsthand. We saw how generous they were and how the gifting had failed at every touch point to land its intended recipient. We turned this observation into a rejected proposal, but a conversation began. Three months later, we were invited into an RFP to become their Global Gifting Partner. We were the wild cards; they were explicit about that, but we continued supporting global gifting six years later."

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2) What challenges did you encounter when you were starting off and building your marketplace?

JL: “&Open On-Demand, the foundation of our marketplace, was launched in late 2022. Until then, we had been entirely enterprise-focused and wanted to create a more accessible product that would empower smaller businesses to harness the power of gifting. To create it, we drew on our roots in Makers & Brothers—being able to curate interesting, meaningful, impactful vendors for our clients, things that go beyond the expected in the world of corporate gifts. &Open has a unique use case, so we do things differently even though Onport and similar tools work for many other marketplace customers. For example, we have both a gift sender (the person ordering the item) and a gift recipient, so the person who receives the item differs from the one who ordered it. This has numerous knock-on effects; we don’t want to send our gift recipients a vendor receipt. We had to work through many nuances like that while building a new platform from scratch.”

3) How did you first come across or hear about Onport?

JL: “Our founders and Onport’s founders shared a wonderful advisor who made the introduction. Our Engineering team added Onport to their research on marketplace solutions and loved what they learned.”

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4) How does Onport support &Open in addressing and overcoming those challenges?

JL: “We needed a solution that allowed us to work with vendors worldwide, and Onport has absolutely addressed that need. Onport supported our go-live date and allowed us to quickly onboard many different vendors across various geographies quickly. Onport’s ability to automatically and manually connect to vendor’s inventory feeds has meant our team can focus on developing the platform’s user experience, adding features that benefit our clients directly while Onport handles the inventory syncing and order routing processes for us.”

5) Which specific features do you believe brings the most value to the collaboration with Onport?

JL: "The direct integration with Shopify is of massive value to us. Manual integrations having a client-facing resource (the Vendor Portal) have meant we can make the experience of onboarding vendors as seamless as possible. Features such as including a notecard make vendor-side processes as automated and considerate as possible, which has been very beneficial to our experience of collaborating with Onport. Additionally, the availability of excellent and responsive customer service has strengthened our connection with Onport. Our concerns are treated with care, and we are kept up to date regarding the status of our requests via our active communication and weekly meetings via Slack. The combined Slack channel and ticket service provided are also very important to us - speaking to people directly about issues that look at the human element of the software we create together is essential to the various fixes and issues we’ve encountered along the way”.

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6) What do you like the most about the Onport Platform?

JL: “The regularly updated features have been integral to how &Open works with Onport; the ability to make feature requests and adapt existing features has been great and really beneficial for our business.”

7) How do you see Onport supporting your growth plans for the future?

JL: “Looking to the future, we’re keen to build upon the existing features and learn more about Onport’s ongoing developments and how &Open can implement Onport’s different features. Cross-boarded and rationalization of our shipping is definitely of interest. We’re also interested in looking at more complex integrations beyond classic retail.”

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8) What value do you feel the marketplace model brings to businesses & customers alike?

JL: "It brings rapid scale and variety. But more importantly, it allowed &Open to easily bring together a curation of best-in-class vendors from across Europe, the US, and the UK. Our customers can now access an ever-evolving offer and can select a gift within minutes.”

9) We think that the Airbnb story is a great way to highlight your success. Could you elaborate on the origins of your relationship and what it was like to work with them?

JL: "To build on the answer to the first question: From the beginning of Airbnb as a business, they had a special gifting program called ‘The Love Team,’ which later grew into ‘The Loyalty Team’ when it became more formalized. This small team within the Customer Support umbrella was responsible for gifting hosts and guests in various instances to help create lifelong fans of the brand. It spread the word about Airbnb in the early days through positive word of mouth. Airbnb wanted their gifts to be really impactful, that each unique item told a story and not just something like a generic branded t-shirt. The ethos of both companies aligned really well. Over time, the relationship has developed in greater depth as more and more companies want to incorporate this concept of impactful and unique gifts into their operations at scale."

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