Vytautas Atkočaitis: At Vinted Go, We Contribute to Changing Consumer Habits
Meet Vytautas, VP of Vinted Go. During our interview, Vytautas talked about his experience in e-commerce logistics, gave an in-depth explanation of a brand-new business entity in the Vinted group, and shared its current projects and future plans.
What’s your name and job at Vinted?
I’m Vytautas Atkočaitis, VP of Vinted Go, which is the logistics arm of Vinted Group.
When and how did you join? Why? (Be honest!)
I joined Vinted a year and a half ago. Before coming to Vinted, I was living in Seattle, USA, where I was working for a big e-commerce company. A chance meeting with one of Vinted's founders, Mantas Mikuckas, led him to introduce me to Vinted’s mission and vision. It caught my interest because I didn’t know (as I hadn’t been living in Lithuania for a while) that there were Lithuanian companies with such ambitions.
It was then that we spoke about the Shipping Director position. I went through the whole application process, and after that, I joined Vinted. Even though Vinted Go was only a plan then, the company’s ambition was captivating. Vinted Marketplace’s vision alone was enough for me to want to get involved in this project.
Why is Vinted’s mission important to you?
Personally, I really admire the opportunity to work on something on a global scale that has the potential to change the way millions of people consume. Right now, the work is on fashion, which is one of the most polluting industries. But when you have a platform with an established user base, you can affect many other industries at the same time.
Nowadays, it is crucial to be environmentally friendly. In the long term, I don't see myself working in companies that refuse to think and act on these problems. I believe in Vinted’s mission, and I think it is necessary to do it on a big scale.
Tell us about your typical work day. Do you have a morning routine?
Usually, at 7 AM, I drive my kids to kindergarten. At 8 AM, I drink my coffee, check my emails, and prepare for my work day ahead, for a planned 9 AM start.
No two days are alike at Vinted. My activities range from one-on-ones with my teammates to strategic problem solving and meetings with partners, investors, or media. Because Vinted Go is a growing unit in Vinted’s organisation, I still need to be hands-on on some topics, so if necessary, I do analysis, strategy planning, etc.
What do you find meaningful in your job?
For me, the most exciting thing is working with collaborative people who are eager to solve problems as a team. Co-creation is embedded in Vinted’s culture. I felt it when I joined Vinted. Back then, I didn’t really know much about it, but had my ideas. It was easy to blend into a team and start making an impact.
Aiming high drives me. It means that we don’t seek an easy way out. We aim for quality, which usually is hard to achieve. To innovate, you can’t do what you already know.
You’re now VP of Vinted Go. What do you like most about this field?
My whole career has been in operations, logistics, and e-commerce logistics. Before Vinted, I spent 6 years at Amazon. Why Vinted and shipping? It came naturally from my profile. Speaking about it holistically, if you want to change the industry’s consumer habits and the whole industry in a meaningful way, it’s achievable when you reach a certain scale. From the marketplace perspective, Vinted is already the biggest online C2C second-hand marketplace in Europe. Thus we make a positive impact on the fashion industry, but at the same time, we make another impact by providing a vast logistics solution.
For holistic solutions, you need to solve first-mile and last-mile problems in an industry that needs innovation. Our goal at Vinted Go is to be that accelerator of innovation in our industry and help Vinted Marketplace scale more and minimise the negative impact. We aim to be more net-positive. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s about working on global-scale problems. Shipping at Vinted is an exceptional place to do just that.
What’s special about Vinted Go? How is it different from other companies?
Vinted Go is distinct in the e-commerce industry. There are very few organisations that fully understand logistics and their value, and make continuous improvements. There are many reasons for this. The most common one is that only a few can reach a scale where it’s worth investing your time and money into them.
When you reach that level, it becomes meaningful and engaging to dig deeper and learn more about it because you understand that your client’s loyalty and satisfaction with the platform depends on how successfully you deliver their parcels. It’s all about the experience of delivery, refund, and so on.
What Vinted understood very early on is that shipping is essential for enabling C2C. It’s way more complex than traditional B2C. We have to ensure that a person who sells their no-longer-worn item can just pack and send it. We also need to guarantee that the buyer can easily pick it up. As well as this, all the actions in between, such as tracking, have to be transparent.
What do we do better than the others? We have a playbook for launching various European markets cheaper, more comfortably, and with less pollution. We do that with the PUDO (pick-up, drop-off) shipping option, which is still quite a passively adopted way of shipping, especially in western countries. Right now, less than 10% of parcels are delivered to lockers. We work with this delivery mode, because it’s more comfortable and cheaper than the home delivery option, and carries more environmental benefits. We learned how to connect all the markets into one big market, which means that it’s no longer a hassle to send parcels between countries. Thus we can offer a new product - affordable shipping between countries.
What functions does Vinted Go have in the Vinted Group?
Recently we officially announced the launch of Vinted Go as a new and separate business unit within the Vinted group. The Vinted Marketplace is our first client to benefit from our shipping services.
Beyond that, we’re building our own locker network in France – a process which we started a couple of months ago. We also sell shipping services to all e-commerce companies in Europe. We aim to be a service provider for everyone, not only Vinted. Our main focus right now is Vinted, but more and more teams in our unit focus on products and technologies to cater to other clients.
How do you see the future of Vinted Go? What are its main priorities?
The primary focus will be on providing the best possible experience for our Vinted Marketplace members. From there, we will continue to innovate in this field. Many problems are yet to be solved, from quality of life to affordability. Simultaneously, we will build our capabilities in France to create a fully Vinted-focused experience. Then we will move on to other markets. We also plan to develop our virtual shipping platform to provide products to e-commerce companies globally.
How is Vinted Go innovative compared to other shipping companies?
Our solution that we provide in part depends on our collaboration with shipping companies and carriers. We offer a single united network of our carrier partners. By integrating with Vinted Go, you get access to 43 shipping carriers across Europe with a unified pricing policy, customer service, etc., offered as one package.
Tell us about the structure of your team. How fast is it expanding? Where is it based?
Vinted Go’s structure is similar to other companies. It’s a mirror image of how Vinted Marketplace operates. We have teams working on the product, technology, etc. Our teams are cross-functional, which means they consist of people from product management, engineering, data science, and design. In this way, we collaborate to create new technological solutions.
We’re not just a technology company. We have teams working with business development, partnerships with carriers, warehouses, locker providers, and so on. Furthermore, we have a sales department focused on commercial partnerships. Also, we have analytics, and program functions, which work on complex cross-functional projects. It’s quite a standard organisational structure.
At Vinted Go, we employ over 120 people, and at the end of the year, we’ll expand to 180 people. Most of the team is based in Vilnius at the moment, but we actively hire people in Berlin, London, Paris, and Amsterdam, depending on the function or roles. We aim to find the best candidates.
What qualities do you look for when hiring people in Vinted Go?
We look for people who are passionate about solving complex problems, want to operate in a not fully determined environment, like operational or business development problems, and are eager to solve complex technological riddles. We currently see ourselves as a start-up in the Vinted Group. We’re trying to develop a couple of strategic directions, so we’re looking for people who want to grow together with us and who understand that the path to success is not linear.
Could you share some semi-recent projects done in your unit?
We’ve already started developing our locker infrastructure network in France. It was a project that we had worked on for six months. Our goal is to test it during the summer, see what’s working and what’s not, and then expand. Additionally, in spring, we started the sales of our virtual shipping platform and worked on integrations with e-commerces in Europe. We also enabled the expansion of Vinted’s marketplace: Vinted launched in Slovakia and Portugal. There are lots of different projects done in the unit.
What are the main principles you follow at work?
My principles are in line with Vinted’s values. I value people who set ambitious goals, don’t default to the easiest path, who are not afraid to fail, and can learn from mistakes. Figuratively speaking, at Vinted, we’re thinking about how to fly to Mars and trying to understand why we aren’t there yet. I also value openness and certainty. It means communicating with each other clearly and avoiding ambiguity.
What is vital for personal growth and helping others grow?
From my perspective, I try to learn from my mistakes one task at a time. From a team perspective, I see my purpose as helping others to be in the right place where they can succeed. It means enabling them so their skillset can deliver impact, while at the same time, giving them freedom and opportunities to grow and expand their knowledge and skills. I believe in growing people vertically from within the organisation. So I spend a lot of time evaluating whether we have the right people in key positions.
One of the reasons why I joined Vinted was Mantas and his story. The possibility to learn from him and other leaders in the organisation was really valuable. Right now, I do the same with Vinted Group leadership teams.
By the way, do you use the Vinted app? If so, what do you use it for?
I use it for my 3-year-old twins. Every season, my wife and I look for various items, and we find everything on Vinted. We don’t need to go to the shops, so it’s a win-win situation in terms of the economic and environmental impact. Plus, you get to see firsthand what’s working and what’s not in the product itself.
One fun fact about you?
I’m an adventurous person, both in work and in my personal life. I like playing poker and have played in the biggest poker tournaments in the world.
Your favourite place in the world (online or offline)?
Please pick one piece of media to recommend. Why do you think it deserves someone’s attention and what role does it play in your life?
For people coming to work in operations, I recommend the book Working backwards by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr. It’s about Amazon's operations and its fundamentals. It’s for those who are interested in this industry and want to learn to operate in a lean way.