The pandemic brought home the fact that the global supply chain — while a modern miracle of human ingenuity and enterprise — is also more fragile than many once thought. So any innovation on this front is welcome news for businesses seeking to insulate themselves from future supply chain shocks or searching for a way to scale their operations more efficiently.
Casey Armstrong is CMO at ShipBob, a Chicago-based end-to-end fulfillment provider trusted by thousands of DTC brands. The company has grown rapidly since its founding in 2014, and now claims to be one of the fastest-growing tech companies in America.
I wanted to catch up with Casey to learn more about what ShipBob does and why brands — especially emergent DTC brands that want to efficiently scale their operations — should be interested in its services. “At ShipBob, we are building a global fulfillment platform,” said Casey. “And so what does that mean? We want to support brands, whether they’re selling directly to consumer, or selling B2B, and take the physical supply chain side, and make it as easy as it is to manage their data, or the digital side. And you can essentially send us your inventory, and whether you want to sell that in the United States, or around the world, or you want to sell direct from your website, or through a certain marketplace, or a retail partner, we can fulfill the goods on your behalf. That way, these different brands can focus on what they often do best, which is marketing and sales and product development and community development, and they can leave the operations side of the business to us.”
As Casey points out, founders and managers at DTC startups may not always realize in a timely fashion how much more efficient they could be were they to hand over logistics to a fulfillment platform such as ShipBob. “A lot of founders, unless your differentiator, your 10X scale, is supply chain, or operations, or logistics, I think you should look sooner than not, because a lot of these founders — what they’re great is, you know, the vision of the product, the product development, the marketing side of it; maybe it’s the microphone that they have for certain channels. Maximize that — don’t force yourself to necessarily become an operations expert.”
Casey and I discuss how ShipBob integrates its services with order processing and ERP systems used by brands, and whether, in light of the pandemic’s well-documented disruption of JIT (“Just in Time”) inventory-based operations, there are guidelines for brands in terms of determining how much inventory they should have on hand at any particular time.
We also discuss mistakes that Casey has observed brands making with respect to logistics and fulfillment, the growing importance of packaging innovations in an era in which “unboxing” has become a popular content form, and the growing trend of brands providing eco-friendly packaging for the goods they ship.