A Whale of a Fulfillment Strategy
Space and operational constraints can often impact an e-commerce company’s ability to grow.
Nearly 10 years ago, American clothing and accessory retailer vineyard vines had the foresight to avoid these missteps by ensuring flexibility and scalability were core to its processes. In fall of 2005, the preppy retailer (often recognized for its cheerful whale logo) started looking for a partner to take over its distribution. It had moved from a 5,000-square-foot, company-run warehouse to a location with 25,000 square feet about nine months earlier, and had already grown out of the space.
“Knowing we needed a more flexible option to scale with our rapid growth, we looked at all the distribution partners within driving distance,” said Sebastian Burzacchi, VP of operations at vineyard vines. “We selected Dotcom Distribution near the end of the year and had transitioned by the next summer; utilizing about 75,000 square feet of space.”
From the beginning, Dotcom Distribution was able to increase vineyard vines’ footprint as needed but more importantly, adjust their fulfillment strategy as its company evolved from a wholesale driven organization to a retail dominated one.
“Unlike larger warehouses with multiple locations, Dotcom Distribution forgoes unnecessary processes and bureaucratic rules to get the job done,” said Maria Haggerty, founder and president of Dotcom Distribution. “Our agile workforce and expert logistics team can quickly scale and make changes to orders and shipments. This flexibility helps growing companies like vineyard vines grow even faster because customers are happy. In our first year working with vineyard vines, business doubled and online sales have increased five-fold.”
Part of that customer happiness is getting product to them as quickly and accurately as possible, according to Burzacchi. For vineyard vines’ direct-to-consumer orders, Dotcom Distribution has a standard to ship out of the same day of more than 99 percent of all orders it receives before 2:30pm. When it comes to vineyard vines’ retail orders, the standard is ship by end of the next day. (Note: vineyard vines currently offers free ground shipping on all orders over $125. Learn more about the minimum-purchase strategy here.)
When customers receive their packages from vineyard vines, they are often pleasantly surprised by not only the delivery speed, but also the packaging itself.
“We worked with vineyard vines to create an attractive yet cost-effective package that prominently displays its name and logo,” said Haggerty. “The packaging is as cheerful and whimsical as vineyard’s logo.”
According to Haggerty, premium packaging is another aspect of delivering a great customer experience, especially for online-only stores.
“For online retailers that have less interaction with customers than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, packaging is critical to that experience,” said Haggerty. “Personalized messages, attractive boxes and secure shipping compartments also give products an added high-quality appearance, which is essential to luxury brands or brands just wishing to provide a bit of that luxury service. When consumers spend more, they not only expect their products to be high-value but they expect that their experience with the product will begin with the packaging itself.”
Haggerty continues that packaging is the last chance retailers have to make a substantial impact on the customer experience, yet it’s the first thing that a customer will notice.
“Retailers shouldn’t waste this opportunity and should partner with someone who shares their vision for the customer experience,” said Haggerty. “Dotcom Distribution and vineyard vines both believe in surprising and delighting the customer, an attitude that was key to our mutual success.”