Boxed Believes New Hire Will Help Drive B-to-B Growth
This past fall, Boxed, the online-only wholesale shopping club, announced the hiring of Neel Madhvani as its new head of sales. Madhvani will be responsible for building a B-to-B sales team at a time when businesses are accounting for a growing portion of Boxed's revenues. Madhvani has experience in this area, as he joins Boxed from Staples, where he led the office supplies company's B-to-B e-commerce division. In this interview with Total Retail, Madhvani discusses his new job and why he believes B-to-B is a future area of strength for Boxed.
Total Retail: What attracted you to want to join Boxed?
Neel Madhvani: Of course, the culture. I came into the office a few years ago and met with the founders, and we talked for around an hour. They were intelligent, easy to talk to, but what struck me most is how transparent they all were. Boxed has the type of culture and environment that really shines through, even if you only spend a minute with the team.
I remember walking out of the office and thinking to myself, "I’m going to work for those guys sometime down the road.”
TR: Tell us about Boxed’s current B-to-B business.
NM: We’re growing so quickly — easily-double digit growth — across our two buckets: commercial and platform. One aspect we’re focusing on is our research into office managers as our main customers. Office managers, especially in small to medium businesses, have a direct hand in a company’s productivity and retention. The benefits and environment created by office managers dictates the type of people businesses hire, as well as how long they stay and the productivity of the company. If you have an employee making around $50 an hour, and that employee steps out for a coffee every day for half an hour, that’s a huge loss.
Therefore, Boxed is focusing on arming office managers with the knowledge to make and be credited for the choices they’re making, without having to suffer through the amount of effort it takes to figure out what those decisions should be.
TR: What are your plans to grow Boxed’s B-to-B business?
NM: Our main goal is to create an environment in which office managers can get to us quickly, have efficient conversations with someone who is interested in their needs, and make sure we’re not just trying to make a sale.
One way we’re helping is through the Snacks by Boxed program, where we change the snacks each month based on what’s new and fresh for an office. We’re also working with a designer so that the box becomes its own display case and managers no longer have to unload snacks and drinks.
TR: How will your career experience help you in this new role at Boxed?
NM: The thru-line in all of my jobs thus far has been their size; I’ve always been involved with small to medium businesses. Whether it was my family business, where I went door-to-door to find the best price for a commercial space, or working on mergers and acquisitions at Staples, I was always dealing directly with SMBs. At Boxed, I still get to delve deeply into the needs of small and medium businesses and understand the personal and professional challenges they’re facing.
TR: From an industrywide perspective, what are the biggest opportunities for B-to-B retailers? Conversely, what are the challenges?
NM: We’re at a really interesting crossroads where the innovation and quality of technology has aligned with consumer willingness to adopt and companies’ ability to listen. When those three things work in tandem, we stand to see true and impactful innovation. Companies like ours are paying attention to how people communicate and purchase, and what they want as a result of that. We’re seeing an age of aggressive innovation that we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Challenge-wise, supply chain will always be at the top of the list — getting product from one place to another while keeping the cost low for moving it and not inconveniencing consumers with an obscene price.