How the Right Fulfillment Partner Can Help Your Subscription Brand Grow
These days, everyone is looking for a legacy industry to disrupt, preferably with a subscription brand startup. Often these brands experience explosive growth in the beginning as they acquire new customers with a low-cost brand message. As long as their fulfillment company can keep up with this increase in business, rapid growth is not a problem.
The Covid pandemic accelerated this type of growth for many companies as more people ordered regularly from home. But many brands felt the pinch as supply shortages and distribution center closures stranded their inventory and slowed deliveries.
Furthermore, established DTC brands (and many all-DTC brands) found that as more players entered the market, acquiring new customers became harder and more expensive. As such, they found it easier to open a new sales channel by adding wholesale B2B or brick-and-mortar stores. For example, Dollar Shave Club products are now sold in Walmart stores. Bonobos was acquired by Walmart. Harry’s products are now sold at Target. Warby Parker has opened its own stores in multiple locations.
What does this have to do with fulfillment? At each stage of growth, these brands needed a fulfillment partner that could meet their demands for rapid growth. If you’re the owner of a quickly-growing subscription brand (or any DTC brand), you need a fulfillment provider or 3PL that not only keeps up with you, but can accelerate your rise in business. Here are a few of the capabilities you should be looking for when selecting that provider:
Automation – Small-parcel fulfillment is a labor intensive job that cannot support huge sales spikes or rapid growth without automation. Fulfillment providers that invest in automation technology are built to grow, and can speedily scale their operations as your needs change.
Partnerships – As you acquire new customers, the customer experience (UX) becomes more important. Integration with new technologies that improve customer experience, such as buy now/pay later systems or easy returns, becomes critical. A strong 3PL will be committed to developing partnerships and integrations with these new technologies. They can help you build a tech stack that eliminates business pain points and supports your brand.
Omnichannel Capabilities – When you reach the stage where you want to explore new sales channels, technology integration becomes even more important. Retailers and large marketplaces like Amazon have specific demands that not every direct-to-consumer 3PL is prepared to meet. In addition, many brands want a one-size fits all system that allows them to manage inventory and prioritize orders across all channels. They may also invest in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to improve their operations. This requires integration with their fulfillment operations to give them access to real-time data. The inability of some 3PLs to provide this is often the pain point that causes brands to switch fulfillment providers.
International Capabilities – a fulfillment provider that has experience with international shipping carriers, customs and trade regulations, tax collection, multiple payment systems, languages, and currencies can make international growth easy. Lastly, a fulfillment provider with international distribution centers can help you eliminate import duties on goods manufactured overseas for US fulfillment.
In conclusion, business owners may experience many challenges when growing a subscription brand, but finding the right fulfillment provider shouldn’t be one of them. Avoid common pitfalls and make the best choices to set up your brand for success by choosing a partner like Ruby Has Fulfillment that can accelerate your growth, not hinder it!