With a promising new product—the simple-to-use and dishwasher safe, portable HERO Grill—the team at Fire and Flavor wanted to find the right 3PL to help them reach their target demographic. Even though DCL Logistics primarily works with consumer electronic products, it was clear to CEO and Co-founder of Fire & Flavor, Davis Knox, that an experienced 3PL would help them get the HERO Grill setup for omni-channel shipping to both consumers and retailers. “The fact that DCL has so many customers that are dealing in high value electronics told us that DCL would have a super clean, white-glove approach for direct-to-consumer pick, pack, and ship. And that was what we found.” Davis further explained that it was DCL’s dedication to structured operations, advanced technology platforms, EDI connections, and sustainability that made this partnership a great fit. “What drew me in to work with DCL is that the team is staying ahead of the curve, they have a multi layered structure of technology and systems and core business processes—it’s clear they are a thought leader in the 3PL industry.”
Getting Right to Your Audience
Davis knew his product would need to be available in many different retailers, both online and in-store.
It’s hard to find 3PLs that have a deep expertise in dealing with Amazon, and all of the dot.coms, as well as dealing with brick-and-mortar. We feel like we really have a partner because DCL has that deep experience. To me that’s the more complex part of being a 3PL; shipping pallets into distribution centers for brick-and-mortar retailers is a lot easier. The difference is, DCL has a reputation for being technology forward, helping companies deliver from an omni-channel perspective, not just traditional brick-and-mortar.
Getting into many different sales channels is only one piece of the puzzle to reaching your ideal consumer audience. The HERO Grill is a product made for urban dwellers who are health-minded and outdoorsy, but who may not have the space or desire to own a large traditional grill. “Everybody is talking about sustainability, and that was kind of the icing on the cake with DCL. They are utilizing solar for 90% of their power, and ISO 9001 certified—there’s a real commitment to a best-in-class standard there. These are all selling benefits for our consumers who want to make sure we are an environmentally friendly brand. We make sure we have partners that are committed to the same things that we are.”
Creating Efficiencies with EDI Central
One of DCL’s services that Davis appreciates the most is the EDI Central application within the eFactory fulfillment platform. Davis says, “We were really attracted by the deep capability DCL has around EDI, and EDI partnering directly with our retailers.”
EDI stands for electronic data interchange, and is the platform over which orders and system information is communicated to product retailers. It’s directly tied to fulfillment, so when a company outsources fulfillment, it’s ideal that the 3PL has internal EDI capability.
DCL’s EDI Central has optimized their logistics experience across the board. Davis recounts, “We’ve been able to eliminate SPS commerce, our third-party provider, which has meant we’ve reduced some unnecessary costs—it’s helped us become more efficient. In some cases, like advance ship notices, which have to get to the retailer before the product, there’s a really quick turn around time—the product may get there in a single-day transit so you may only have 24 hours to solve any issues before they start fining you for not sending the notice ahead of the shipment. It’s nice to have DCL just managing all of that for us.”
A huge part of getting into new retailers is navigating the shipping guidelines for each individual store. “The way DCL has distilled down a basic SOP for the warehouse is really impressive,” Davis explains. “As a brand and manufacturer, we have to to stay compliant with so many different retailer guidelines and criteria. I have found that most other 3PLs want us to distill those into some kind of short SOP, so that they can then operate against it, but DCL just took that burden off of our plate.”
Long-Term Relationships with Retailers
By partnering with an experienced 3PL there are more sales channels available to startups, but getting in is just the first step. “As an entrepreneur, people are always asking me, how do you get into these retailers,” Davis says. “I think a lot of startups focus too much on getting new points of distribution. However, the harder part is making it sell once it’s on the shelf, and achieving the velocities retailers require.”
One of the biggest pieces of success, and the most difficult, for a product company is growing long-term sales. Davis says, “One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that you need someone with the relationship, but the experience too—someone who really understands the cost of doing business with those retailers. The structure or the way DCL proposed everything to us it was pretty clear that they understood those costs, and that there weren’t going to be any hidden fees or hidden costs.”
The Fire and Flavor team does forecasting to make sure they understand product velocity and compare it against similar items on the market. Davis has great advice for other startups on maintaining relationships with top retailers. He says, “You want to have an impeccable service record and you want to have an impeccable selling record. One of the terms used in the consumer product world is OTIF—on time and in full. When you ship something, it has to arrive when they want it to arrive, and with all the product that they wanted. This is where that regimented side of the business is essential—there’s not a lot of room for error. And that’s where DCL comes in, their reliability and their experience with OTIF.”
More About Fire & Flavor
The HERO grill is the world’s first premium portable grill that uses a single use charcoal pod to make charcoal grilling clean and simple. It goes in the dishwasher and it’s designed to be like the Keruig of charcoal grills. It’s designed around simplicity, and for folks in an urban environment who want to go beyond the patio and be inspired to take an outdoor adventure.
If you are looking for fulfillment and logistics support, or have questions about how to partner with DCL Logistics please contact us here.