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Why D2C brands need custom fulfillment services (and how Whiplash can help)

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There are two things that merchants worry about with ecommerce fulfillment – cost and speed. 

But in the push towards same-day shipping services and cheaper shipping options, the role of order fulfillment in a creating memorable customer experience is sometimes lost.

When fulfillment is dominated by plain cardboard boxes and third-party marketplaces, it’s near impossible to build a meaningful relationship with your customer.

This phenomenon is what we like to call the ‘Amazon-ization’ of ecommerce: The growth of generic, forgettable brand interactions that do nothing to increase customer loyalty. 

Custom fulfillment services offer direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands a way to extend their brand story across multiple touchpoints in the post-purchase experience. By partnering with a D2C fulfillment provider who offers these capabilities, you can give customers a memorable brand experience that increases loyalty and retention.

What are custom fulfillment services?

Custom fulfillment refers to additional fulfillment services that are tailored to fit the needs of a particular business. This differs from the standard range of 3PL services designed for economy of scale, such as warehousing, inventory management, shipping orders, and reverse logistics.

A fabulous unboxing experience, complete with a custom box and a thank-you card, is a classic example of custom fulfillment at work. 

To execute this fulfillment process, a 3PL has to design a bespoke packing strategy that involves unique branded elements and workflows that maximize efficiency. It’s this expertise that direct-to-consumer brands are paying for when contracting a fulfillment company for custom order fulfillment services.

Custom fulfillment services include but are not limited to:

  • Customized packaging e.g. custom boxes, branded tissue paper, filler, etc.
  • Custom inserts e.g. thank-you notes, flyers, coupons
  • Kitting/subassembly
  • Product sampling

Why custom fulfillment matters for direct-to-consumer brands

Differentiate yourself as a merchant. It’s virtually impossible for D2C brands to stand out on price or product alone in today’s competitive marketplace. But by investing in the customer experience during the fulfillment process, your brand can stand out from the crowd and build a much stronger emotional connection with customers.

Boost your value proposition. If you want to be viewed as a premium offering, every touchpoint in the customer journey needs to reflect this – especially the moment of delivery. When customers feel like they’re receiving an exclusive experience, it’s much easier to justify high-end pricing. According to a report by Capgemini, 81% of consumers are willing to pay extra to a business that guarantees a better customer experience.

Surprise and delight your customers. The moment of delivery is the first tactile impression that customers have of your brand, so it’s important to make this count. When customers can see a brand’s touch in the fulfillment process in the form of branded packaging or a handwritten note, this inspires trust and familiarity in your value proposition. 

Scalability: The biggest challenge of custom fulfillment

Custom fulfillment services are a fantastic opportunity for merchants to enhance the customer experience – but also represent one of the biggest challenges in D2C fulfillment. 

Why? Because ecommerce businesses with highly customized fulfillment processes are often faced with tough decisions as they grow. 

One of the biggest advantages of self-fulfillment is that D2C brands have full creative control over the fulfillment process. They get to oversee every step in the packing process and experiment with new ways to surprise and delight customers.

But this is only possible if you’re managing a handful of ecommerce orders per day. As order volumes increase, value-added additions to the fulfillment process can easily overwhelm your operation.

No merchant wants to remove enhancements that make the post-purchase experience unique. But if your operation is unable to scale effectively, you’re looking at lengthy delays to order processing and fulfillment that can damage your brand’s reputation.

But D2C brands do have an alternative: Finding an ecommerce fulfillment provider who can execute custom fulfillment flawlessly – every time.  

Whiplash: Your scalable custom fulfillment partner

By managing the end-to-end customer experience, D2C brands have a significant advantage over traditional retailers. Their ability to build a consistent brand identity and voice across multiple touchpoints has enabled remarkable success stories, including the likes of Glossier and Warby Parker.

But it’s this competitive edge that holds many D2Cs back from partnering with order fulfillment companies. They fear losing control over the customer experience and diluting what makes their brand unique, especially as their business scales.

This is why merchants need a responsive, scalable custom fulfillment solution that enables their business to weather both the peaks and troughs in the ecommerce calendar.

By partnering with Whiplash for your custom fulfillment needs, your ecommerce business will gain access to an advanced fulfillment network and decades of expertise – without undermining the integrity of your brand experience.

What does custom fulfillment look like at Whiplash?

A full suite of value-added services. Whether you’re after an elaborate unboxing experience or just require a return shipping label to be added to your packages, Whiplash can provide your ecommerce business with a wide range of value-added services tailored to suit your unique needs. 

Set custom Order Rules. Want orders containing certain items to have special packaging, or for free samples to be added for a limited time? With Whiplash’s Order Rules, your ecommerce business has a granular level of control over the entire packing process – without you needing to be in the room. Order Rules will trigger when certain criteria are met within an order, such as specific SKUs, order values, or shipping methods. Pause, change, or cancel your rules in real-time to keep up with the ever-changing demands of your customers.

Flawless integration with your online store. Whiplash hosts native two-way integrations via our open API with all major ecommerce platforms including Shopify, making it effortless to send order information directly through to Whiplash and ensure full order accuracy.

Whiplash has added value at every stage of our adventure.” Andy Person, CEO of Baboon To The Moon.

baboon to the moon merchandise on a desk with a computer monitor with the whiplash logo

With a brand image that reflects love and expertise for travel, luggage and accessories brand Baboon to the Moon wanted these values to extend throughout the end-to-end customer experience. 

As order volumes grew, it was vital to CEO Andy Person that the brand was able to continue with its quirky, colorful custom fulfillment strategy. This involves including free tote bags and branded stickers with each order, in addition to inserts telling the story behind the brand.

By partnering with Whiplash, Baboon to the Moon was able to take advantage of a seamless Shopify integration and advanced automation to streamline order processing and free up more time to focus on refining their packing process. By being able to rely on Whiplash to execute flawless custom order fulfillment every time, Baboon To The Moon can focus on leading a new wave of conscious and connected travelers.

Check out the full Baboon To The Moon case study here.

Interested in how custom fulfillment services? Contact us today to find out how Whiplash can help you to add that personal touch to your orders.

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