"We won our first 100 customers. We were very excited about the next phase of scaling. The new geographies we’d enter, the next level of customers we’d acquire. But, this growth brought new challenges and almost a new operational obstacle every day."
We kicked off our conversation with Benjamin Jaboeuf, Head of Operations at Instaply about how Growth brings with it chaos and complexities!
Brick and mortar stores still find it challenging to stay close to their customers. Founded in 2012, Instaply
provides a cloud-based messaging platform that allows stores to communicate quickly with customers and provide exceptional customer services.
As a company whose vision is to empower stores across Northern America and France to offer high-touch experiences to their clients, it is a no-brainer that Instaply wanted to offer the best subscription experience to its own customers.
Benjamin Jaboeuf recalls the three biggest challenges they faced in scaling Instaply:
1. Dealing with an invoice wave, manually
“The last few days of every month was horrible for my bookkeeping team. Because they will be hit by the next huge wave of invoices.” Their previous billing tool Quickbooks did not have the functionality to automate invoice operations end-to-end.
2. More customers; more payment problems
Every month, Instaply had a bunch of failed payments, expired cards, and a handful of customers left in the dark. Manually chasing late payments was their biggest hurdle to growth.
3. Even the thought of expanding to Europe was expensive
Scale doesn’t come cheap. Instaply needed solutions that could:
Accommodate payment, language, and currency preferences.
Factor in support for GDPR, 3DS, and EU-VAT.
Manage multiple payment gateway integrations and compliance regulations.
The limitations of its previous solution Quickbooks started to show:
The bookkeeping team was bogged down in manual billing processes. Functionalities such as one-time charges, altering subscription periods, sending payment links were difficult to navigate.
Handling PCI compliance with Quickbooks involved emailing authorization forms to every customer for credit card cash withdrawals.
Limited visibility on customers, subscriptions, plan details, and everyday metrics like MRR and churn.
Thinking of a Long-Term Investment
While the need of the hour was a billing tool that can automate invoices, and help them launch into the EU, Benjamin knew they needed a solution that would adapt to their future needs as well. A platform that adapts to their growth, and flex well for any unexpected situations they are sure to face in their journey.
As luck would have it, Benjamin ran into a Chargebee sales executive at a squash game in San Francisco. Their conversations on subscriptions billing led Benjamin to get a demo of Chargebee. Evaluated against Chargify and Zuora, Chargebee turned out to be the best fit.
1) Automation is the new growth engine
Here’s how Chargebee automated their entire subscription lifecycle from payment collection to recognition, unlocking a new level of business agility and efficiency:
- Payment collection links:
While customers in the US prefer credit cards, customers in France favor wire transfers. Apart from accommodating these preferences, Instaply also needed to customize pricing for enterprises and sometimes adjust the price of existing plans. Chargebee's plan-specific checkout links help the sales team collect payments instantly. Once payment is made, a subscription is automatically created.
- Invoicing automation:
Chargebee automates invoicing - for offline and online payments - with detailed line items, and tax details.
- Automated payment recovery
Benjamin transformed their payment recovery strategy with Chargebee’s Smart Dunning feature. By automating intelligent retry sequences at the best times to attempt a recovery, Instaply recovers lost revenue on autopilot.
- One-click easy reconciliation
What used to take more than 20 hours per week for the bookkeeping team, now takes seconds. With one-click reconciliation, gateway transactions from Stripe are automatically matched with their book of accounts.
2) Expansion to France
Instaply’s investment in Chargebee was long-sighted: before they set foot in France, they had the resources and stability to run the game strong:
i) Simplified annual payment collections by allowing big-ticket customers in France to pay via bank transfers.
ii) Dealt with EU-VAT to issue tax-compliant invoices.
iii) Solved for currency and language complexities, with Chargebee.
Chargebee + Instaply partnership has been a fantastic journey—growing together, scaling, and figuring out how to provide the best experience for our customers.