GREATS: Then and Now

Three Years Later: GREATS grows 280% year-over-year

A few years after our initial conversation with GREATS Founder & CEO, we followed up to learn how the company has managed its record growth.

Highlights:

  • 280% YOY sales growth since its launch in 2014
  • SKU count multiplied six-fold and includes a new women’s line
  • Leveraging new customization capabilities to strengthen customer experience

 

Flashback to 2013. Brooklyn-based footwear brand, GREATS, launched a beta version of its ecommerce store, offering two silhouettes of luxury men’s shoes. After selling out, they went back into production and made an official debut in 2014. Their focus is direct-to-consumer ecommerce, a strategy that enables them to run lean and offer customers lower-than-expected prices on a high-end product.

GREATS partnered with Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment right from the beginning. “We knew that when we launched, logistics was not something that we were going to be good at, so we went out immediately and tried to find the best 3PL that we could find,” said Ryan Babenzien, founder and CEO. Having seen Ingram Micro Commerce scale to accommodate large volumes for other customers, they were sure they could get there, too.

We spoke to GREATS in 2014 and since then, the company has grown astronomically. Sales have grown an average of 280 percent year-over-year. Between 2014 and 2015, order volume increased over 300 percent. By 2016, the company was averaging over 3,000 orders per month. As for 2017, early data indicates a record-breaking year.

“We have all the right influencers promoting our stuff. Things are great,” said Ryan. GREATS’ strategy is true to its roots — the team continues to design high-end shoes and sells them at a value price online — but they’re continuing to build their brand image, broadening their product offering and exploring the idea of retail. “We’re testing a women’s line now,” said Ryan. “We thought we’d stick to men’s, but we just couldn’t ignore the demand any longer.”

 

Fueling growth with new products managed through the Shipwire Platform

GREATS has grown from two to 12 silhouettes in less than four years and has leveraged brand-building partnerships with the likes of football star, Marshawn Lynch, and global retailer, Mr. Porter.

Shoes ship from Ingram Micro Commerce’s Memphis location and SKU attributes include style, size and color. Adding an additional layer of complexity, GREATS operates on a bi-weekly release schedule that includes seasonal styles and collaborations, resulting in a rotating product mix.

To manage inventory, GREATS relies on the Shipwire Platform, which integrates with key technologies to provide real-time visibility over their SKUs and orders. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t interact with the platform. It gives us the flexibility to be really nimble and make changes on the fly,” said Ryan. With the ability to add new products quickly, check inventory levels, monitor returns, pull business reports and more, GREATS gets the control and insight they need to continue building a successful business.

 

Enhancing customer experience with branded packaging

As a “digitally native” brand, the package that arrives at customer’s door is very often GREATS’ only physical touchpoint with a shopper. As a company who has said “brand is everything,” the delivery experience matters — a lot.

GREATS has embraced personalization options available through the Shipwire Platform since their early days. Things like customized shipping confirmation emails allowed them to connect with customers more intimately. And as the brand has matured, so has their customer experience. GREATS and Ingram Micro Commerce worked together to implement branded packing lists and custom boxes, resulting in a luxury delivery experience that leaves a lasting impression on customers and boldly communicates the feeling of quality.

Integrity and quality are pillars of GREATS’ brand image, and as the company grows, it’s more important than ever to maintain and push standards.

 

Partnerships and target audience

The GREATS team has proven its skill in brand building and the road ahead promises to keep them busy. A women’s line means a new audience and market, strategic partnerships continue to be forged and new teammates may indicate new opportunities and areas of growth.

As business gets busier, GREATS can rely on Ingram Micro Commerce to keep pace and maintain the same flexibility and user-friendly technology that’s always been offered. “Our demand continues to grow, and without a great logistics partner you just simply can’t do that (support growth),” Ryan said. “We try to work with best-in-class in whatever we do, and I think that’s why we’re really happy with our service.”

Soylent

Soylent relies on agile order fulfillment to support two sales models as the company plans for product growth and global expansion.

Consistent, high-quality service and delivery needed

Soylent™, a pioneer in food technology that delivers nutritionally-complete staple meals to provide all the essential nutrients required to fuel the human body, needed a partner it could trust to handle order fulfillment for its subscription and per-order sales.

Since Soylent is categorized as a food product (rather than a supplement), many of its customers depend on it as a primary source of nutrition. Orders must reach them on time, every time and reliability is paramount. “Number one is that we have a consistent, reliable partner to make sure that customers who are replacing 100 percent of their food or even 20 percent of their food, get their supply on time,” said Heston Green, Director of Logistics. “We provide a staple food product, so consistency and reliability were non-negotiables. Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment was the leader of the pack, and that was a tipping factor for us to go with them and their (Shipwire) platform,” he said

 

Scale and Flexibility

Soylent started in the U.S., but has customers in Canada and sights set on other international markets. Along with offering flexible service and features, “It was very important that our fulfillment partner could handle domestic and international shipping,” Heston said. Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment’s global fulfillment solution can support international growth plans with the same flexibility it provides domestically.

Access to industry-leading technology and the flexibility it enables were attractive to Solyent, too. “We’re constantly moving and changing and we needed an agile and willing partner to move with us,” said Heston, noting that other order fulfillment providers were more rigid and not as fast-moving.

 

Reliable solutions that fit

Soylent has two sales models: per-order sales and subscription-based sales. With Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment, order fulfillment for both models is made possible, and enabling this support has allowed the company to further grow its customer base.

Through the partnership, Soylent also opened options for international growth. “We expanded into Canada with the click of a button,” Heston said. In addition to enabling a broader reach, the Shipwire Platform has helped Soylent move faster and save more in other ways, too. “They’ve pushed features ahead that weren’t even on their roadmap (just for Soylent),” which made the company’s processes more efficient and cost-effective, he said.

 

Value in partnership

The right locations, technology and solutions were all key in Soylent’s choice to work with Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment, but the value of establishing a true partnership can’t be underestimated. “Our Account Manager is Kim, and I feel like she’s part of my team,” Heston said. “We get a full-service platform. We have an Account Manager and a dedicated Customer Service Representative. We’ve really grown together as partners and learned things from each other. It’s been a great experience.” By building a close relationship, the partnership has been more productive and the results speak for themselves.

Soylent continues to release updated products and plans to grow beyond the U.S. and Canada. “We want to make the best product possible and get it into the hands of customers as quickly as we can,” Heston said. “Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment is helping us do that.”

Dastmalchi

Dastmalchi partners with Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment Solutions to scale business and grow its retail channels.

 

About

Dastmalchi develops and manages a suite of brands that provide high-quality products to improve the health, beauty and overall wellness of customers. The minute a customer turns on a sonic toothbrush or steps on a bluetooth-connected scale, they feel the difference. For more information, visit www.dastmalchi.com.

 

The challenge of growth

Dastmalchi owns health, beauty, lifestyle and personal care brands including VitaGoods, Vanity Planet and DazzlePro (more are underway). With carefully curated listings and a successful marketing strategy, demand for its products quickly accelerated.

“As we began to grow, our existing fulfillment partner was unable to meet the needs of our expanding business, and the logistical needs our customers were demanding from us,” said Mike Ponzillo, COO.

 

A new partnership

In searching for a new fulfillment partner, Dastmalchi was careful to select one that delivered an excellent customer experience and had the capacity to scale over time — a capability its previous partner struggled to provide.

Dastmalchi was secure in choosing Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment Solutions because of its proven track record supporting businesses through major growth periods.

Ingram’s expansive global network of warehouses, access to a strategic client-account director relationship and the strength of its Shipwire Platform solidified the deal.

“We really needed a partner that could integrate into our platform and support the technology needs of our customers,” said Mr. Ponzillo. While many fulfillment partners support drop shipping, through the Shipwire Platform, Dastmalchi is able to manage its drop ship operations centrally, which equates to faster processing and dispatching of orders.

 

Adding more retail channels

A major strategy in Dastmalchi’s growth is selling on large retail channels. Prior to working with Ingram, the company had six retail partnerships in place and wanted to increase the number significantly.

A common challenge when selling through established retailers is complying with strict service level agreements (SLAs). Additional requirements like retailer-branded packing slips and third party carrier billing also factor into compliance regulations, which differ from retailer to retailer and can be difficult to manage.

To simplify and speed up the process of selling on major retail channels, Dastmalchi leveraged the Ingram Micro Commerce Sell Thru Retail solution. The solution enables connections to virtually any retail.com sales channel and automates the flow of orders, inventory and tracking information, while being 100% retail compliant.

Synchronizing requirements makes adding new retail channels much more efficient, resulting in faster growth. “The team at Ingram Micro has customized the Shipwire Platform to meet the needs of our customers in many different areas…we connect to it directly through API. It is seamless,” Mr. Ponzillo said.

 

Adding EDI

Next, Dastmalchi focused on purchase order transmissions.

Many mainstream retailers require purchase orders to be transmitted through EDI. Previously, the company worked with a third-party EDI provider, but was in the market for an option that could integrate with its ERP and WMS solutions. Ingram’s Commerce EDI product addressed this interest, eliminating the need to handle multiple third-party solutions. Today, Commerce EDI connects Dastmalchi to a few major online retailers and more are in the process of being integrated.

The combination of Ingram’s Sell Thru Retail Solution and Commerce EDI product has enabled Dastmalchi to quadruple its connections to major retail channels, and momentum continues to grow.

 

A Personal Touch

Breadth and scalability of services offered are critical to the Ingram and Dastmalchi partnership, but the human aspect of a partnership cannot be understated.

“Communication is integral in building a partnership,” said Jami Llamas, Director of Logistics. “We are constantly collaborating and finding ways to modify and streamline the processes we have built together. If Dastmalchi has new ideas or suggestions to enhance the systems we are using today, my account director helps bring them to life.”

Ingram Micro Commerce provides a dedicated Account Director to all large accounts. Along with managing day-to-day tasks (account management, planning and reporting) Dastmalchi’s Account Director ensures that the company has a single point of contact to manage its needs and facilitate communication between various other teams. “When issues come up, my account director ensures that they will be addressed, informs me of any workarounds that are in place and identifies how we can come to a resolution that will prevent them from occurring in the future,” said Ms. Llamas. “Having that level of responsiveness is invaluable.”

 

A Look At the Future

From the start, Dastmalchi was drawn to Ingram Micro Commerce’s ability to scale with a rapidly growing business. Its products are available in North America and Europe, further international expansion is on the horizon and the company is exploring the option to build integrations between the Shipwire platform and its other solutions. In closing Mr. Ponzillo said, “It’s an exciting partnership, it’s one we depend on and it’s one that we look at as a significant advantage in us moving forward at Dastmalchi.”