What’s your favorite thing about the ecommerce space?
Sean: We're delivering to customers every day and gathering constant, immediate feedback, which allows us to create even better products sooner.
There’s never a dull moment. What ecommerce brand do you admire right now?
Huckberry. Their product curation and marketing content prove that they know their customers really well.
Why did you ultimately choose ChannelApe?
We needed a flexible IMS / FMS that we could implement quickly. We had just selected Quiet Logistics as our new warehouse partner, and we not only had an aggressive launch timeline but we were also moving to a multi-warehouse environment, which Shopify’s native functionality does not handle well.
We looked at three providers in this space, but once Quiet Logistics referred us to ChannelApe and we were able to see a demo, we knew it was the right fit for us. In our conversations with the ChannelApe team, and in performing a few backchannel references, it was clear they were subject matter experts who understood our pain points and knew the opportunities—we weren’t just speaking with a sales person trying to hit her/his quota for the quarter. Also, as a women-founded, women-led organization (I’m the only male on our executive team and over 80% of our team’s managers are women), we look for that representation in our partners as well, and ChannelApe exhibits that across its functions and leadership.
"We needed a flexible IMS / FMS that we could implement quickly... We looked at three providers in this space, but once Quiet Logistics referred us to ChannelApe and we were able to see a demo, we knew it was the right fit for us."
ChannelApe is a partner, not just a vendor. This has been made more apparent over time in the nearly two years we've worked together. Our new customer success member, Joseph, has been great—always responsive and always diving into their product to learn more. I think the ChannelApe team has really found their footing as tenure and product expertise has grown.
How long did it take for you to implement ChannelApe—right during your peak demand season, no less?
After outlining what the “must-haves” were for launch, ChannelApe was live within eight weeks. Over the following few weeks we layered in additional functionality.
Wow, that’s impressive to achieve around the busiest time of year. What is the number one pain that we have helped solve for?
Historically, it's been inventory accuracy—having a single source of truth for inventory across multiple locations. But as we've matured, one emerging product function that's hugely important for us is the flexibility towards distribution channels.
The integration with a retailer’s instance of the Dsco platform, and associated workflows that were built specifically for Birdies, gives us the ability to drop ship with ease. The industry is at this difficult point where a lot of retailers are sitting on too much inventory and have no budget to buy more and as a result I think expanding that drop shipping capability will be a focus for growing brands in the first half of next year. This functionality that ChannelApe enabled really opens up a lot of doors and distribution channels for us.
If you want to move to a multi-warehouse environment, you want accurate inventory reporting, and you have eyes on other distribution channels, ChannelApe is the best product out there for the combination of those needs.
Thanks for saying that! Aside from drop shipping, what’s the high-level inventory or fulfillment strategy for Birdies over the next six months?
One of our largest strategies is managing our distribution channels in a dynamic way. That pair of stylish-but-comfortable shoes that is sitting in our warehouse can either go directly to our Birdies customer via our online or branded brick-and-mortar stores, to an online or in-store Nordstrom customer, to a Stitch Fix subscriber, or to the customers of other retailers that are asking us for Birdies to be a part of their assortment.
This strategy allows us to limit the inventory risk exposure that I know many brands felt during the supply chain crisis as retailers were canceling huge wholesale orders, leaving the brand’s warehouses packed to the ceilings.
Any other features or functions that have been helpful to you?
Having Looker embedded in the portal is hugely powerful in being able to cut a rich data set in many different ways.
"Gaining back employee time, away from lower-value manual operations, is a major improvement. The time our team spends correcting temporarily-unfilled orders or split shipments has been reduced."
What cost savings or improvements to the bottom line have you seen?
The confidence in ChannelApe’s accuracy has allowed us to send inbound inventory to any of our warehouses without concern. Given the supply chain challenges over the past few years, it is very important to have the flexibility to change course on inbound inventory. As we grow our warehouse network, we do not have the limitation of being concerned about reporting from one location, forcing us to send it across the country to some other warehouse and eat the cost.
ChannelApe also allows us to maintain accurate records without a high-cost ERP. Many companies spend far too much on the implementation, customization, maintenance, and licenses of ERPs that still don’t give them everything they want. For growing brands like us it’s important to maintain a nimble and cost-effective tech stack.
Gaining back employee time, away from lower-value manual operations, is a major improvement. The time our team spends correcting temporarily-unfilled orders or split shipments has been reduced. Our CX team is constantly referencing ChannelApe as a centralized information hub as they quickly react to customer questions. Considering those team members at times have had 10+ other platforms to log into and review, knowing that consequential order information is consolidated into one platform is really useful to them.
Can you speak to the relationship between operations and marketing?
We’re talking to the marketing team every day. Whether they like it or not … they are very up to speed on our operations.
For example, let’s say some new products are arriving later than we anticipated. Depending on the length of the delay, we either need to push the launch date or list some products as pre-sale items. ChannelApe facilitates pre-orders very well by holding the orders in an unfulfilled state and then efficiently pushing them to the warehouse once those goods are stocked.
Thanks in part to our great supply chain team, this year we’ve frequently received goods well ahead of our planned marketing launch date. In response, we’ve quietly listed some products on our site early—“sneaky launches”—to surprise our most loyal and frequent shoppers. ChannelApe facilitates that and keeps everyone internally informed.
How many folks are actually responsible for inventory, order, fulfillment, and post-order operations day-to-day?
Twelve team members, including our amazing CX team. It’s almost half our company!
What about your 3PL? How has the Quiet Logistics–ChannelApe—Birdies ecosystem been?
It’s been great. We've had a few projects where we've needed fast collaboration between Quiet’s dev team and ChannelApe. We would get on the phone and have three to five members from each team there, working through solutions. Both Quiet Logistics and ChannelApe have been invested in our brand's success.
Get the extended version to learn more on how ChannelApe helps customers with operations.