A Thing Of Beauty: Scalable, Flexible eCommerce Fulfillment

July 26, 2018

The world of cosmetics is a personal one. Whether it’s a staple item, or something new a shopper wants to try, having it available as quickly as possible is a must. When eCommerce is the sole selling channel, ease of ordering, price, and cost of shipping are as paramount as the quality of products being sold.

Flexe Ecommerce Cosmetics Retailer

For one Flexe customer, rapidly increasing demand was creating a fulfillment bottleneck. Having a part-time shipping team fulfilling orders from its office was no longer enough. They needed a fulfillment solution that could scale and support its continued business growth.

Key Takeaways

  • 38,489 orders fulfilled during its first full operating month (Month 2)
  • 100,428 orders fulfilled during peak season demand (Month 7)
  • 99,476 orders fulfilled after peak season, showing maintained momentum (Month 9)

Challenges #

  • This Shipping Predicament: Finding a solution provider with the right expertise and solution they needed to keep up with order volumes
  • Forecasting Demand: Pinpointing how growth would continue and working with a partner that could support the unknown
  • Timing Is Everything: Peak season was just around the corner. This company needed a solution that could help them meet the demands of the unknown

Solution: Scalable, Flexible eCommerce Fulfillment

Determining the right location #

Many customers use Flexe to augment their entire fulfillment network and solution. However, for some, like this particular customer, it was determined that only one Flexe location was needed to move the necessary volume.

With their team, we determined the optimal location was to centrally locate inventory with one of our warehouse providers in Reno, Nevada. From that location, it’s possible to reach more than half (53%) of U.S. demand with two-day delivery.

Turning up the volume #

Between their first full operating month with Flexe to Month 7, they scaled order volume from 38,489 to more than 100,000 orders/month and 183,000 units.

Driving down operating costs #

Over time, our customer maintained an average fully burdened cost of $1.62 per order and an average $0.85 per unit. The fully burdened price includes cumulative costs for inbound shipments, storage, outbound shipments, hourly labor, and supplies.

Finding the right Flexe provider in Iron Mountain® #

The Flexe team determined Iron Mountain was the best match for this company. Iron Mountain has been recognized as a Flexe Premier Provider after repeatedly demonstrating their ability to meet and exceed Flexe customers’ expectations on multiple projects.

To manage order volume, Iron Mountain dedicated more than 12 part-time employees to cover the shifts needed for picking, packing, kitting, and shipping.

Together, the Iron Mountain team tested and optimized processes to streamline operations and work more efficiently to make sure orders got out on time. Even during the peak season, the team maintained 99.8% accuracy on orders.

“We internally managed our own kind of quality control with the help of Flexe,” said Deborah Bisel, Operations Supervisor, Iron Mountain – Reno. “It enabled us to optimize our processes to improve accuracy and help our team get orders right—even during weeks when we’d process more than 30,000 orders.”

The Iron Mountain team adapted to changes quickly, including exponentially higher order volumes, new specifications for kitting, and making sure all hands were on deck to get orders out the door.

Scalable, flexible eCommerce fulfillment with Flexe #

This is just one customer’s experience with Flexe. They were able to manage massive volumes through just one Flexe facility. Other use cases include:

  • Fully outsourced fulfillment footprint: Adding 2-6 fulfillment locations to optimize shipping costs and meet next- and two-day delivery on bulkier items
  • Pop-up fulfillment: TOMs uses Flexe to fulfill into pop-up retail stores to move last-season items and replenish pop-up stores
  • Retail distribution to retail stores and Amazon: Placing inventory in Flexe facilities that are near retailers’ intake centers to reduce ship time and meet OTIF requirements
  • Inventory storage during peak season: Ace Hardware uses Flexe for short-term warehouse capacity to manage excess inventory during busier seasons