Willow Breast Pump

How Willow Reduced Shipping Costs with a More Efficient Fulfillment Strategy—a DCL Logistics Customer Spotlight


The team at Willow noticed their shipping fees and fulfillment costs were too high. Working closely with their dedicated DCL Logistics account team, they were able to see a 50% reduction in overall postage and fulfillment costs from 2019 to 2020. How did they manage to achieve such significant cost savings? By reconfiguring and repackaging their kit, reducing the number of parcels per order, and switching carriers—and fulfillment cost reduction was a natural byproduct. 

Willow makes an innovative, wearable breast pump that enables moms to move freely while pumping. Willow forever changed the way women pump with the world’s first quiet, all-in-one, in-bra wearable breast pump. The founders at Willow believe that with the freedom of being untethered, moms can focus on what really matters. 

We asked Mike Dalporto, Director of Logistics at Willow, what it was that tipped him off to make these changes?

“We could see that our shipping expenses and fulfillment costs, as a percentage of our sales, were really just too high. It was obvious that there was a problem that needed to be solved. We began to learn through DCL that our carrier choice, our kitting strategy, and our SLA were in direct contradiction to us saving money. The team at DCL assisted Willow in significantly cutting those costs.”  

Mike Dalporto Director of Logistics at Willow

Optimizing Your Kit Can Reduce Postage Costs

Until early 2020, Willow shipped their primary SKU (a kit that includes a pair of breast pumps with several accessories) in one large eight-pound box. But they noticed that their customers also purchased additional items at the same time, requiring a second box for most orders. 

Working with DCL, Willow redesigned their packaging to allow their products to fit into a single parcel, both the breast pump kit and accessories were now shipped together. Mike says, “Instead of shipping two parcels per order we reduced the size of the primary kit to be able to put other things in that parcel. There is a natural postage reduction when shipping only one and not two.”

As a result they were also able to reduce their freight-in costs. “We worked internally on getting the kit carton reduced. So the products coming in from Asia, because the kit carton was now 40% smaller, we were able to get roughly 35-40% more product into the container. That was huge for us.” 

Experts Help Navigate the Carrier Landscape

After significantly reducing the size and weight of Willow’s parcels, it was a natural next step to reevaluate their carrier option to ensure the ground shipping costs were optimized to fit the new packaging. Mike says, “DCL and Willow worked with several carriers to identify the most optimal provider given the dimensions and distribution of our product.”

He adds, “We also wanted to update the rate structure. We had to ask ourselves: Since we pay for the postage, do we need to get it to mom in two days? Three days? Is a four to six day delivery window acceptable? When we opened up the aperture to a wider delivery window, it put us into a different category of postage services that we could consider and use. We ended up switching carriers to better fit for our new strategy.” 

Renegotiating to a new shipping carrier can be daunting. There are so many variables and so many options to choose from. Working with a seasoned team like DCL’s Transportation Department, Willow was in good hands to make a data driven and well-informed decision. Mike says, “We learned over time that our new carrier option has averaged less time than their projected delivery window, and it’s been far more efficient than what we had before.” 

Willow Breast Pump

Lowering Your Fulfillment Costs

Fulfillment expenses usually amount to the total cost of what it takes the warehouse to execute an order. It compiles all the work in the assembly, how many touches, looking at an order and putting the correct items into the box, packing it up and labeling the box. 

Willow saw a significant reduction in those activities after streamlining their parcel kitting and packaging. Mike shares, “Because we weren’t constructing two boxes, we weren’t creating two labels, we weren’t shipping out two products, our fulfillment costs just naturally went down. It was a really good initiative.” 

By working closely with their DCL team, Willow was able to put the money they saved on shipping and fulfillment toward marketing and other business expenses that have really boosted their business. Mike adds, “DCL is always very flexible to get things done. If you call and say ‘We need to change this.’ They’ll say ‘We can identify a room in our location, or we can identify a place somewhere in the warehouse, and we can help set up the process that you need. And we can provide the labor for that.’ They’re always a responsive, very flexible team, and a lot of that comes from the fact that they are all very capable individuals.” 

More About Willow

This breast pump wasn’t created just to reshape the traditional pump and make it look modern. Willow reinvented the way a breast pump could function from the inside-out. While other pumps use a ‘tug and release’ action to create suction, this proprietary, patented technology creates continuous suction much more similar to a baby’s latch, making Willow the only pump that can promise true, spill-proof mobility for pumping moms. The founders, John Chang and Josh Makower, envisioned a breast pump that was innovative, wearable, and quiet which would enable moms to move freely; eliminating the need to be ‘tethered’ to a wall outlet and hidden away in a room during breast pumping. The founders researched the category, established ExploramedNC7 (company name), a leadership team and began formal development in 2015. Willow now distributes nationally from their website, Amazon and through several retailers, both on their website and in-store. 

If you are looking to streamline your logistics, lower your shipping costs, and partner with an experienced 3PL to help manage your fulfillment, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a note to connect about how we can help your company grow. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with to ensure great logistics support.

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