I have spent years searching high and low in Australia and online for a snack I came to love on trips to visit family in Italy and, reader, let me tell you, I would pay a king’s ransom to have a steady supply coming my way.
Though we may live in the age of Amazon and seemingly unlimited internet shopping, it turns out that the limit does still exist, whether it’s because the cost of shipping far outweighs the cost of the item itself, or certain brands don’t even ship to Australia.
For those willing to do whatever it takes is Sydney-founded startup Just Tress It, a personal concierge shopping service founded by Jessica Sarkis and Elie Wehbe.
The idea, Sarkis said, was born out of simple frustration.
“Having spent lots of time in the US as I was younger, I knew the types of products they had access to that we didn’t here. I remember thinking gosh, I really wish I could just have another one of those again, but knew I couldn’t get it sent here,” Sarkis said.
Eventually, she and Wehbe decided to do something about it; within 10 minutes, she said, they had begun work on the branding, the company direction, potential revenue streams, and the company’s values.
“We love challenges and saw this as a perfect challenge for us. We sat there and thought, you know what, this is doable. So we pursued all of our spare time and efforts on this for a solid two months to bring it to life,” Sarkis said.
“We want to change the way people shop and access products. We believe that Australians shouldn’t be restricted to accessing the products that they want simply because they live in Australia.”
With that in mind, the startup is targeting “any person who has a strong desire to purchase a specific item that they know they can’t get in Australia” – think spotting items while overseas or browsing brands online that you then realise don’t ship to Australia.
The service works by having users sign up for an account and then fill their shopping list with links to items that they want to buy. They are asked to then describe what they want from each item, such as size and colour.
Tress will then send them a quote, in Australian dollars, based on the current exchange rate. Items are shipped based on the weight of a box, with four different sizes of boxes available.
If the price is agreed to, the customer is then sent a payment slip; once the payment is made, a shopper from the startup’s network of personal shoppers will get to work, and then ship the items.
With the startup fulfilling 100 orders in its launch week in August, the cofounders have been working to find customers through social media marketing, with word of mouth then lending a hand.
“We strongly believe that when you satisfy one customer, you satisfy another 20,” Sarkis said.
The focus on customer service is what Sarkis believes sets Tress apart.
“We need to all work as one to not only make it seamless and easy from a customer satisfaction point of view, but also to source the right products in the right time before they usually get sold out. We have been known to queue up for a certain product and to also go out of our way to ensure the customer gets a special 20 percent off discount code – that’s concierge service,” she said.
The startup originally launched with a focus on shopping in the US, before widening its reach in response to customer feedback.
“We quickly found out our customers want exactly what they want, from wherever it is available,” Sarkis said.
With this in mind, Sarkis said keeping customers happy will be at the top of the to do list for the startup as it moves forward – particularly with the Christmas season coming up.
“It’s challenging what we do, and we want to make sure we keep our high level of customer satisfaction and product securement levels,” she said.
Image: Jessica Sarkis and Elie Wehbe. Source: Supplied.