It’s a common story in ecommerce that when companies are starting out, they choose a small, basic fulfillment provider to save on costs. But when they grow, these companies quickly find that they need much more than their basic 3PL can provide. Because ecommerce business growth isn’t always linear, and it is definitely not predictable, many companies find themselves with a 3PL who can’t keep up.
Therabody ran into this exact problem. Their holiday sales projection for 2020 was big, but their fulfillment provider was understaffed, and still shipping Christmas orders in the middle of January. Therabody knew they needed a change—they needed a partner who could meet their capacity goals, scale quickly to meet their growing brand, and help give them the tools to meet even bigger goals next holiday season.
Keith Lilley, Director of Operations at Therabody understood they had to make a change and find a 3PL who could handle their growth for the 2021 season and beyond. Here’s what Keith had to say about Therabody’s switch to DCL Logistics.
Partner with a Fulfillment Provider Who Can Scale with Your Brand
A common myth is that small brands won’t get a contract with a good 3PL until they are bigger. This just isn’t true. While many 3PLs have a monthly order minimum, they also work with brands of all sizes, including startups and small companies.
Therabody was working with a fulfillment provider with basic pick, pack, and ship service. When their sales took off it was clear they needed more.
“I wasn’t around during 2020,” Keith states, “but from what I understand it was a complete nightmare. I heard they sent people home on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and ran a very limited staff for Black Friday.”
Fast forward to peak season 2021, things looked drastically different for the Therabody team. Their order forecast was bigger, and nearly all their orders were fulfilled and shipped within a day, for the entire peak season.
The DCL team reacted and performed at a level that was phenomenal, especially during this timeframe. It was November 19, which is the height of peak season.
How to Stay at “Day Zero” During the Holiday Rush
“Q4 of 2021 was really huge for us,” Keith states. “Between November 19 and December 20, DCL shipped close to 200,000 units, direct-to-consumers. During that timeframe, we stayed on day zero. What that means is, if an order drops before noon, it ships that day.”
In fulfillment-speak, “day zero” means there is no backlog of orders that needs to be processed. If you’re at “day one” when the warehouse closes for the day that means you still have a day’s worth of orders waiting to get processed, plus anymore that will come through overnight.
Staying at “day zero” during peak season is very difficult, but it signals efficient fulfillment flow, timely order processing and picking, plus the appropriate amount of labor staffed to get the job done and orders out quickly.
Keith was very clear that there was one time during the 2021 holiday rush when the warehouse was not at day zero. “There was one week where we had a small hiccup that was due to our mistake,” he relays. “Friday, November 19, at 5pm Central Time I realized no orders were getting sent out because of an issue in our system (not DCL’s). Several thousand orders hadn’t dropped. I had to call DCL to address the issue because I knew that once we fixed the issue, the next day (Saturday) they were going to see this huge number and must dig out of the hole we created. By Tuesday morning, we were back to day zero.”
Therabody threw DCL a big curveball, but the operations team took it in stride. Keith continues, “The DCL team reacted and performed at a level that was phenomenal, especially during this timeframe. It was November 19, which is the height of peak season.”
Quality Service Improves More Than Just Your Order Flow
For high-growth brands like Therabody, having a partner who understands your business is key to scalability. That deep understanding comes from quality service and regular communication
Keith recounts that when he noticed the order error, he was able to call up his dedicated team so they could take action immediately. He says, “The access that I have to my team makes this really easy for me. I have the phone numbers of a few key people who manage the Therabody account. And they pick up, that’s the best part. I can call any of them and they actually answer the phone, that’s the best part.”
Having a dedicated and responsive team of experts sets DCL apart. It means the DCL team can help anticipate and meet Therabody’s needs as they arise. “Most of the time it feels like DCL is better at our business than we are,” Keith says. “We’ve worked with DCL for only a year and they’re better at what we do than we are. And I love that.”
It’s not just regular communication that keeps operators like Keith happy, it’s the type of information shared that sets DCL apart. Keith shares, “My account rep will email me our top shippers, at least once a quarter. And it’s sent to me without prompting, not because I asked for it. The best part is, I know that I can pull that report as well, but to have information proactively sent to me is huge—it’s data, daily order snapshot, project status, orders from yesterday, etc. What it says to me is ‘We know everything that’s going on inside the four walls of your company, even though we’re not in it.”
Therabody’s Advice on What to Ask Your Prospective Fulfillment Partner
Before they switched 3PLs Keith looked around and took his time vetting potential partners. “I had a lot of questions,” Keith states. “I wanted to get a deep sense of DCL’s capabilities and their planning. Coming from managing the warehouses at William Sonoma, with 30K orders per day, I know how important it is to ensure the workers on the floor are engaged and trained well.”
He said when vetting a 3PL the big questions you should ask include:
- What is your scale-up plan?
- What is your staff training and employee education like?
- Do you have temps or full time?
- What is your relationship with shipping carriers? Do they cap you?
- How many pickups a day to do?
- What does your inventory storage look like? How much space will we get?
- What do the pick lines look like and what sort of schedule will they be staffed?
After touring DCL’s Kentucky and LA facilities, Keith was confident he could narrow his choice down to DCL. He said, “I was so impressed when I toured, there were people who have been working there for 10 years or more. They were all genuinely excited to talk about what they were doing, which, to me, means they are really engaged and they’re going to get our orders right.”
A global pioneer in wellness technology, Therabody makes popular products like the Theragun massage gun, facial health devices. Their mission is to provide solutions that help you take charge of your daily wellness. Recover faster with therapy devices for everybody.