SHAPER Origin nurtures its community
The first portable CNC in the world, designed for precision routing, was the talk of the show at Eurobois last February and duly picked up an innovation award.
Eight months after its European launch, the user community continues to grow and provide feedback for enhancing the product further. An original sales and marketing strategy for a product that's just as original, explains Rachel Barrette, marketing manager Europe.
At Eurobois, you gave an exclusive pre-launch preview of your Shaper product Origin. What effect has the pandemic crisis had on the sales launch?
Eurobois was the last event we had the chance to participate in. We were indeed in the pre-market phase in Europe, and we were able to demonstrate the unit and perform test-runs. That was a success, and we took a lot of advance orders. We had other events planned too but they were all cancelled for health reasons. To avoid delaying the market launch, we had to change tack and thus we organized webinars, with demonstration modules and an online Q&A. Although nothing beats a hands-on product presentation, these webinars worked out very well in the end and helped us consolidate our user community.
This user community is part and parcel of your product. Can-you tell us more about it?
We believe the electric tools of tomorrow must be intuitive, easily connectable, and bring down barriers between design and execution. That's what makes the sharing of data and user experience essential. We therefore actively listen to our customers, to their needs and suggestions, and use this feedback to optimize the Shaper Origin's functions. Updates are installed very simply as soon as the machine is switched on and connected to Wi-Fi. It's therefore a machine that continually undergoes improvement.
It's this feedback from the community that enabled us recently to develop a workstation that combined a work platform and machine mounting point for routing table operations. With an easily adjustable top plate for small or awkward parts, it saves a lot of preparation time and makes routing easier than ever.
Less than 48 hours after going live with this product, we were already sold out—a sure sign this was an accessory that had been missing!
Shaper also provides a hub on which its customers can share files and see what the others come up with, as well as a busy forum for exchanges, questions, and enhancing of practices.
Has this will to interact with users helped shape your commercialization methods?
Yes of course. Shaper Origin went on the US market in 2018. After this, we adapted the machine to European specifics and in September, 2019 we created Shaper Tools GmbH, which deals with all sales, service, and customer contacts in Europe. We don't have any distributors as we sell directly from our Shaper Tools website. Without go-betweens, we can stay in close touch and of accompany the user community. We want our brand to be synonymous with confidence and reliability, and that means building a trust relationship with our customers.
In Europe, what are the main user profiles for your product?
All kinds: many professional joiners, some of whom work in marquetry, others in carpentry, etc. We also have industrial companies who use the machine for prototyping as it accommodates all kinds of materials, for example aluminium or Corian®. The machine's destination markets are many and varied. This highly positive development in Europe fills us with confidence.
Founded in the USA, Shaper Tools is now run by German company TTS Tooltechnic Systems AG & Co. KG.
Over the years, the company has successfully established itself in the highly competitive electric tools market— notably through the Festool brand—and is a specialist for joiners, painters, and the renovation sector.
Crédit Photo : Shaper Tools