“Everything Just Works”: Implementing the Right Systems Pre-Launch Gave Saysh a Running Start for BFCM Success
When Saysh saw a 1000% increase in order volume for their holiday sale, they successfully fulfilled every order—without overselling—with ChannelApe.
After fifteen years at Reebok, Emily Short made a rather drastic change in her career. Sure, she stayed in the footwear space and continued to hone in on her supply chain expertise, but starting out at the ground floor at Saysh was different.
Founded in response to inequality, particularly in regards to the stigma of motherhood within the workplace, Saysh is a lifestyle brand trying to break down barriers within the footwear and apparel industry. Since Saysh is a startup—a completely different corporate structure from an industry giant like Reebok—we sat down with Emily Short (Logistics and Customer Care Lead, Saysh) to talk about the importance of getting the right systems in the right place before launching your great products.
I would advise to be very strategic on what inventory you’re bringing in and monitor how much inventory you have... At Saysh, we work with what we have and really lean into our current products before rushing to make a giant catalog of new shoes. ChannelApe gives us the inventory visibility reports necessary to make those data-driven decisions.
By choosing ChannelApe as their single source of truth for inventory, they got ahead of inventory problems before they started and set themselves up for success during a critical holiday sale. Saysh ultimately achieved cost savings and peace of mind with their processes, which is helping them scale their wholesale and warehouse expansion efforts.
What’s your favorite part about working for a brand like Saysh?
Emily: I come from Reebok, where all the processes were already laid out. At Saysh, we’re creating all our processes from scratch—‘this is how we communicate with our customers,’ ‘this is what our strategy is for wholesale compared to DTC,’ all that good stuff. That’s exciting.
But what’s also exciting is our story, and I’m proud to be a part of that. We make shoes for women, designed by women, and made exclusively for a woman’s foot—one that changes throughout pregnancy. You don't really see that within the industry. After our founder Allyson Felix’s poor experience with her then sponsor, Nike, when she was pregnant, she wanted to create an athletic brand that supported women. As a mom myself, it’s important to be a part of a brand like this. We’re a small but mighty team, and everyone is so passionate about why they are here and what they do.
My favorite part is also the most challenging part, which is starting up the business. I've never done this before! Basically every day there's something new we have to tackle. We don’t have the name recognition yet like Reebok or Nike, so everyone that works for Saysh has to be a brand advocate, and that includes our partners.
Speaking of… as a Saysh partner ourselves, we have to shout out your groundbreaking returns policy. Can you tell us more about that?
Our Maternity Returns Policy was really industry leading. If one of our customers has purchased a pair of Saysh One sneakers and becomes pregnant, that person can simply reach out to us if their shoe size changes to request a new pair. Free of charge, no questions asked.
In my role I am responsible for both customer care and logistics, since they pretty much go hand-in-hand. It’s so rewarding for me to be able to chat with a customer who needs to go half a size up and be able to provide them with that help without any hassle.
You mentioned your team is small but mighty. How many people are we talking?
There’s three of us in the day-to-day grind of inventory, order, and fulfillment management, which all ties into customer care. We handle inbound and outbound orders, answer customer inquiry tickets, and engage with customers to build loyalty. We’re constantly thinking of ways to reward our customers.
Included in this is our VP of Ops. She oversees all the product development, factory management, and logistics.
ChannelApe and your 3PL SCI were implemented before Saysh even had inventory. Why did Saysh at its onset trust us with its operations?
We decided to use SCI as our 3PL to leverage the cost savings of the Section 321 clause. By choosing to ship our goods into the US from Canada, anything under $800 would be duty free. For a new startup like us, every dollar counts, so SCI’s Canadian presence made sense for us strategically.
SCI has a warehouse in Vancouver and another in Toronto. We’re currently utilizing the facility in Vancouver, but the goal is to use the one in Toronto as well. Knowing that we were going to eventually need more than one warehouse is one of the reasons we chose ChannelApe.
Since ChannelApe already had an integration and partnership with SCI, we knew all inventory and order information from the warehouse would sync correctly. This is great to have with one warehouse, but the real-time inventory snapshot will be critical when we expand to two locations. For example, if someone from New York ordered a pair of Saysh Ones, we would want our shipping rules to be set up so that the order is fulfilled out of Toronto instead of Vancouver. Then, we want to rest assured that the inventory numbers are properly reflected at the end of the day for both warehouses.
The ChannelApe platform is very user-friendly. I would know, I’m in it every day to make sure there are no orders held up! The team has peace of mind knowing that the inventory is syncing correctly and flowing into Shopify.
The other reason we chose ChannelApe is the fact that they were the inventory platform that Birdies and Allbirds used during their growth stages. Having that DTC ecommerce customer proof definitely aided in the final decision-making.
Is the ongoing relationship with ChannelApe proving to be helpful long-term?
Yes, there is a good feedback loop of information. The inventory snapshot is sent once a day from SCI to ChannelApe, and then that is reflected in our Shopify channel so we can always have the most accurate inventory numbers.
When we launch new colorways, we partner with ChannelApe to make sure those SKUs are set up and reflected in Shopify. We've also partnered with ChannelApe for different shipping modes, like changing from ‘walk’ to ‘run’. Then SCI sees that information and knows that someone just ordered a pair of shoes but she wants it quickly, so they need to adjust their prioritization.
The ChannelApe platform is very user-friendly. I would know, I’m in it every day to make sure there are no orders held up! The team has peace of mind knowing that the inventory is syncing correctly and flowing into Shopify. Going live with a new colorway, for example, would be nerve-wrecking otherwise. ChannelApe has been great in alleviating worries when we have new shoes and colors.
That’s great to hear. What does your growth strategy look like?
We’re going live with Canada shipping soon. Right now, we’re only shipping into the US, so expanding our customer base into Canada is very exciting. We just conducted a whole batch of testing to make sure those orders went through (they did!).
We’ve also been working on building up our wholesale business. Over the summer we worked on a big project around developing a new ship mode that was exclusive to wholesale. Instead of seeing ‘walk’ or ‘sprint’, the warehouse would see ‘Footlocker’ or ‘Athleta’ for better differentiation. After some end-to-end testing, we decided that customer pickup (CPU) would be the best option.
The ChannelApe team was super helpful with making sure that the shipping line notice went through correctly so we wouldn’t have to manually send our warehouse an Excel spreadsheet. ChannelApe was a really helpful partner to us during this initiative.
It’s good to know that we can help support these growth initiatives. How did your Black Friday / Cyber Monday go?
ChannelApe was great with keeping up with [Black Friday / Cyber Monday] volume and not having any concurrency issues... We also didn't have any backorders, which really speaks to the importance of having that inventory snapshot that updates every day.
It was incredible. We ran a 32% off sale and we saw a 1000% increase in order volume. It was a very successful four day event for us.
ChannelApe was great with keeping up with this volume and not having any concurrency issues. There were no issues with the order transmission, the inventory update within the inventory snapshot updated just fine. We also didn't have any backorders, which really speaks to the importance of having that inventory snapshot that updates every day. When a certain size went out of stock, our customer could see that.
1000% increase! Congratulations on handling that. Are there any other features you leverage besides the inventory snapshot?
The ability to split shipments for an order is great, and we have set the rules up so that we remain Section 321 compliant.
I am taking a look at our order statuses every day, making sure I know what’s pending and what’s being held up so that I can get in contact with the warehouse. Being able to investigate bottlenecks and pinpoint when they occur is very helpful.
Any tips for brands trying to accelerate their growth?
Of course this depends on the brand, but I would advise to be very strategic on what inventory you’re bringing in and monitor how much inventory you have. Right now retailers are sitting on a lot of excess inventory. At Saysh, we work with what we have and really lean into our current products before rushing to make a giant catalog of new shoes. ChannelApe gives us the inventory visibility reports necessary to make those data-driven decisions.
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