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Outsourcing Fulfillment - DTC Founders Opinion (2023)

Outsourcing Fulfillment - DTC Founders Opinion (2023)

February 2, 2023
Posted By
Atomix Team
Title asset to the "Summer Shipping" blog post from Atomix Logistics. A small green 3D truck with a small sun floating above it portrays the hot summer sun during order transport. KW: Ecommerce, 3PL, order fulfillment, fulfillment center, summer order fulfillment, new orders, new customer, temperature, protection, packaging, eco-friendly, sustainability

“Outsourcing the majority of our business was core to growing, scaling and exiting [9-figures] in a short period of time"

-Daniel Rotman, Founder & CEO Pretty Litter (Pet Product, Consumer Packaged Goods).

Business Overview

  • DTC Brand: Pretty Litter
  • HQ: Los Angeles, CA
  • Founders: Daniel Rotman
  • Industry: Pet Products
  • Website: https://www.prettylitter.com/
  • Launch: 2015
  • Accelerator: gBeta Milwaukee, WI
  • Exit: Mars Acquisition of $800 million in 2021
Cat with litter box and PrettyLitter bag

Background

PrettyLitter was founded in 2015 by Daniel Rotman, who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and received his master's degree from Harvard University where he was a Fellow for the Center for Public Leadership. Rotman has previously worked for the U.S. Congressional Chair of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The idea of PrettyLitter was born after the passing of Rotman's cat, Gingi, where he discovered there were no at-home tools to help detect cats' potential health issues.

In 2015, PrettyLitter participated in the Startup U competition led by Tim Draper, a 7-week reality television series that premiered on ABC Family from August to October 2015. As one of the finalists for Startup U, Rotman managed to start PrettyLitter officially in late 2015.

In August 2016, the PrettyLitter joined American startup accelerator, Gener8tor which resulted in a growing sales size of 1300 percent within two months.

In May 2021, Mars acquired PrettyLitter for a reported $1 billion.

Outsourcing Fulfillment and More

Pretty Litter is among the most notable DTC (and pet product brands) in the United States. So when it comes down to finding the best outsourced partners, what should you look for?

In this blog, we’ll describe what an ideal outsourced partner looks like!

Table of Contents:

  • Reliability/Consistency
  • Clear communication
  • Robust software
  • Understanding how important our pets are

Reliability

First and foremost; eCommerce brands want their customers to get their orders on time and undamaged, right?

 When your store receives an order, the process for picking, packing, and shipping your products should be streamlined and completely seamless. 

Now, it’s hard to determine these qualities without actually closing a deal, so make sure to do a little research on each prospect you consider. Skimming through web pages and finding some reviews/testimonials will give you a good idea of whether they align with your brand’s belief system. 

Overall, a reliable 3PL should provide the following values to your brand:

  • Quick and fast shipping
  • Improved supply chain performance
  • Special project services where necessary
  • Real-time updates on inventory and orders

Without these core value-adding characteristics, a 3PL will likely end up not being an ideal partner for your brand, ultimately becoming detrimental to your business. 

Clear Communication

Building a relationship based on trust and open communication is fundamental for a functional partnership. Whoever you decide to partner with, make sure both you and your 3PL assign a single point of contact on each side to make communication easier for both parties. 

Once a point of contact has been established, clear communication from your 3PL will provide the following: 

Establishment of Expectations

An ideal 3PL partner for your brand will understand that their role is to act as an extension of your business, rather than a supplement. During the onboarding process, they will make sure that both parties clearly understand what is expected of each.

Feedback on Performance

Whether your pet business is skyrocketing, plummeting, or anything in between; your fulfillment partner should be right there with you every step of the way. Providing insights on returns, inventory, and orders is a basic requirement for any modern tech-based 3PL.

Discussing Future Goals

At this critical point, many 3PLs tend to drop the ball. After a client is onboarded and product is received, often there is little communication outside of regular business updates. For both partners to scale with intent, there must be regular discourse regarding planning for future growth (both for our businesses and your customers’ furry friends!). 

Robust & Intuitive Software

In today’s tech-based world, it is close to impossible to keep up with modern demand without implementing a robust SaaS platform to manage inventory and order tracking. 

Some WMS (Warehouse Management System) platforms can handle the bare minimum for small businesses, but contemporary ecommerce is simply too dynamic for legacy systems. 

Think about how many ecom businesses have exploded after having a short video go viral; is your fulfillment partner capable of scaling quickly enough to keep up? 

Most new 3PLs charge a software onboarding fee, and a lot of small businesses have a hard time justifying the added expense of paying to integrate their store with an app. 

However, investing in a 3PL with a well-built SaaS platform will irrefutably help your business grow that much more easily. How, you ask? Well, here are a few ways a 3PL with powerful tech can impact your business, and your customers:

Real-time performance updates

With a proper SaaS platform, you are granted access to virtually the same level of control over your inventory as if you were handling things in-house. Live status updates mean whether you sell individual items, multipacks, or even variety packs, you will know exactly how many of each item you have in stock. 

Data-driven insights

In addition to performance updates, business owners can also track AOV, Order/Return Rates, average ETA/ATA, and much more. Receiving a constant flow of information on your brand helps ease the decision making process for future business growth plans.

Little to NO mispicks

This one is SUPER important - the bigger your brand grows, the more variety you will see in your customer orders! When business booms around busy seasons or a flash sale, you need to be confident that your 3PL is capable of accurately packing and shipping every single order.

With a robust software platform, modern fulfillment partners have a much lower chance at mispicking items for an order. Warehouse locations are accurately mapped, kept updated automatically, and ensure correct inventory volume. 

P.S. - Atomix created a unique warehouse model to increase order picking accuracy even further, and created greater efficiency to reduce picking times dramatically. Learn more about our Micro-Pod warehouse model here!

In-House feel

When a fulfillment partner is successful in being an ideal partner, your order fulfillment should feel like it is operating in the background. Seamless onboarding, no shipping stress, and happy animals! 

Understanding you and your pets

When running a pet brand in 2023, you need to be able to trust that your 3PL cares about the end customer as much as you (if not more!) 

Your prospective partner should understand that pet owners are often very passionate about the well-being of their furry friends, and expect the same level of care from those handling and transporting their pet’s products. It is up to the 3PL to uphold the ethical standards for animal care, because these aren’t pets; they’re members of your family. 

P.S. - Atomix knows how much pet owners love meeting other animals, and we have 3 office dogs! We love them dearly, and they’ve made our office a second home. Take a look below to meet them all!

Our CX Team with some extra help.

Conclusion

At the end of every day, the best part about being a pet owner is the infectious joy they radiate when we finally get home after long hours. Making sure they are comfortable, happy, and entertained is the #1 priority for us all. A 3PL that has the ability to accommodate growth while maintaining high standards of pet care shows commitment to both the success of the brand, and the well-being of pets. By choosing a 3PL that meets these criteria, your business can rest assured that their furry (or feathery, or scaly) customers are in good hands, while you focus on growing your brand! 

Ready to grow your pet brand? Reach out to us today!

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