“Almost every household in the United States owns a BISSELL product. This would be a great goal to achieve in Europe as well”, says Vincent Huinck, Commercial Director at BISSELL International. We met with Vincent to tell us more about the dynamic and exciting home care industry and BISSELL’s journey entering the European market. BISSELL is a floor care product manufacturing company , headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. With over 145 years of experience, BISSELL is a family owned business in its fifth generation and a market leader in home care. They have achieved this by continuously innovating their products, maintaining lasting relationships with their trade partners and, most importantly, keeping their customers at the center of all of their innovations. Only five years ago, the company decided to seriously spread their wings and explore opportunities outside North America. Since then the company is showing significant growth and is leading the Wet & Wash floorcare category in Europe.
Text: Sanne Leenders // Photo: BISSELL
Currently, as the Commercial Director I am responsible for sales and marketing in Europe and South America. I did not have a background in Small Domestic Appliances, when I joined BISSELL 3 years ago, however, throughout my career I worked for branded consumer goods companies with a strong desire to expand Internationally. People may not expect this, but floorcare is a very dynamic and exciting industry to be active in. Every year Europeans spend billions of Euros on home care products. During the COVID crisis we are currently living in, people are spending more time at home appreciating and caring about their homes. This has increased spending even more.
Innovation and authenticity
BISSELL has been dedicated to floorcare for over 145 years and has an authentic history, which you could consider a competitive advantage versus other new brands entering the market. In our home market the United States, almost every household owns a BISSELL and the brand is very well-known, but in Europe we are a new brand competing with very well-known and established European brands. The fact that we can share our authentic history and bring our innovation and experience to the market gives us numerous opportunities. Together with our business partners we have accelerated our business and established a solid position within the European market.
BISSELL products are Mass Premium, well designed and crafted, technologically advanced and affordable for a large consumer base. We are a ‘family’ brand, meaning BISSELL products are ‘made by a family, for your family’. In addition to their passion for floorcare-innovation, the BISSELL family has always been very passionate and caring about the wellbeing of pets. Since 2011 there is the BISSELL Pet Foundation, led by Cathy Bissell. The BISSELL Pet Foundation’s goal is to support shelters and animal welfare organizations. This includes helping to reduce the number of animals in shelters through pet adoption programs. We also have a special product range that help families who own pets to keep their houses clean.
Rebuilding our online platform
Our foundational business for local e-commerce and brick & mortar is managed by our European distribution partners. The development of our direct channels has been an interesting journey. There are important benefits in building a direct relationship with consumers which allows us to provide information and support as well as sell directly. When I started working for BISSELL we first needed to update our online platform as it was quite outdated. We rebuilt a completely new online platform, scalable to roll out to different markets across the globe. We made sure to include a content management system, a product information
management system and the possibility to roll-out in multiple languages, including Arabic and Asian languages.
Recently we started setting up our own DtC business adding e-commerce capabilities to our platform. Starting a DtC channel and managing the required supply-chain and payment support can be complex. Therefore, we decided to outsource and partner with Salesupply to handle our back-end operations.
E-commerce is constantly changing
A business can always improve when it comes to staying relevant in the on-line / e-commerce environment. The e-commerce industry keeps changing and improving itself and I think e-commerce will never stop doing this.
Better work and life balance
The COVID-19 outbreak has had terrible consequences on our world. Nevertheless, there are positive side-effects related to the outbreak. Many businesses have proven they can continue to operate efficiently while their teams work from home. Many employees are experiencing an improved work -life balance while working from home, without having to commute or travel and being able to spend more time with the rest of the family. This new way of working can be transforming. It might not be desirable or efficient to completely return to the way we used to work before the crisis.
In terms of the growth of our business, the COVID-19 crisis has had a positive impact. People are learning to appreciate their home environment more since working from home. They are more focused on keeping their homes nice and cozy and most importantly keep their homes clean and safe. Consequently, people are spending more on products to help them achieve these goals.
This article was previously published in Cross-Border Magazine 16.