Business Plan Challenge

SkyBOX Checkout builds rich niche in international e-commerce

Taylor Philippi, sales and marketing director, and Paul V. Gartlan, president and CEO, at the Doral office of SkyBOX Checkout.
Taylor Philippi, sales and marketing director, and Paul V. Gartlan, president and CEO, at the Doral office of SkyBOX Checkout. rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

International e-commerce is complicated. Companies have to deal with customs, duties, international currencies and a wide variety of risks, including credit card fraud. SkyBOX Checkout, which won third place in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, is a solution to all those problems.

SkyBOX Checkout is an international e-commerce checkout platform that helps international customers pay for and receive merchandise by adding a plug-in to retailers’ websites.

The plug-in includes a pop-up list of prices in the customer’s local currency, product by product. SkyBOX Checkout is also integrated in the retailer’s checkout so customers pay in their local currency, including taxes and fees.

“SkyBOX is a technology for international payment processing and international logistics,” said Taylor Philippi, sales and marketing director. Customers "are able to pay upfront any duties and taxes that the order would have once it arrives in the international destination.”

Clients pay SkyBOX Checkout (skyboxcheckout.com) a nominal transaction fee for international transactions processed through its technology.

SkyBOX Checkout plans to target about 15,000 online retailers in the U.S. that meet the company’s profile. After establishing its base, the company plans to reach out to retailers in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and China.

SkyBOX Checkout grew from SkyBOX, a cross-border shopping facilitator. The company was formed in 1991 and was acquired by Paul Gartlan in May 2007. Gartlan, president and CEO, founded SkyBOX Checkout with Emilio Lizarraga in 2014. Lizarraga is now vice president of the company.

“SkyBOX started helping customers buy in the USA before there was e-commerce, more than 15 years ago. Customers would fax their orders and they could buy using their virtual address in the U.S.,” Lizarraga said.

Philippi, who is pursuing an MBA at FIU, oversees marketing and business development. Gartlan read about the Miami Herald Business Challenge and suggested that the team should submit a plan.

THE TECHNOLOGY

Philippi said that one of the things that differentiates SkyBOX from competitors such as BongoUS, BorderFree, iParcel and International Checkout is its relationship with the SkyBOX sister companies.

SkyBOX Checkout works closely with SkyBOX, the cross-border shipping facilitating company, and SkyNET, a global courier company.

“I think one of the strong points that we have is our background with our sister companies. We have our own logistics network. We’re not just an IT company trying to launch a technology,” she said.

Lizarraga also said that SkyBOX Checkout is different from other e-commerce tools because it includes video tracking.

Video tracking "is more than a great tool, where customers can see a video of the processing of their products. Customers want to see what they bought in another country as soon as possible,” Lizarraga said.

Lizarraga said that the company’s goal is to “be the most important solution in terms of technology and logistics to help international e-commerce anywhere to anywhere.”

[SkyBOX] is without any doubt the best e-commerce, shipping and storage solution.

Juan Ceballos, marketing director of Icon Networks

Juan Ceballos, marketing director of Icon Networks, said using SkyBOX Checkout helped make buying products on its website for radio control hobby products easier.

“It made our logistics more robust and easy. Without SkyBOX, we would be having different vendors for our payment solution, storage and shipping. Now we have it all in one place with a solution that does everything for us,” Ceballos said.

Icon Networks has over 60,000 SKUs for B2B and 400 SKUs for B2C. SkyBOX Checkout helps the company with its international payment processing and logistics by including the plug-in on its website.

SkyBOX "is without any doubt the best e-commerce, shipping and storage solution,” Ceballos said.

CHALLENGES

As a tech company, SkyBOX Checkout has to constantly adapt to changes in the e-commerce market. SkyBOX Checkout also has to compete with companies acquired by large companies, such as FedEx and UPS.

“In e-commerce and international e-commerce it’s changing so quickly. The challenge is keeping up to date with the technology and realizing that the products have to evolve. If you aren’t evolving and staying on top of those trends, you’ll fall behind very quickly,” Philippi said.

In addition to keeping up with changes in technology, SkyBOX Checkout is also susceptible to fluctuations in the business cycle: If business isn’t booming, retailers may not be able to afford the services SkyBOX Checkout offers.

“Volatility in economies of Latin American countries has been something that has always forced us to be dynamic in the markets that we focus on,” Lizarraga said.

The company has already launched the website and is working with about four clients. The leadership team is working on exhibiting the technology at trade shows to gain recognition and expand the clientele base.

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