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FullWell: Maximizing cost savings through smart shipping selection

a hand holding pills next to lemon slices, a glass of water, and a fullwell bottle.

With consumer demand for speedy delivery at an all-time high, shipping costs regularly add up to become one of the biggest operational expenses for e-commerce businesses. Meeting expectations for fast shipping can be prohibitively expensive for smaller brands, yet the cost of not doing so can hamper brand growth and customer satisfaction.

Finding the optimal balance between shipping speed and cost is an ongoing challenge for e-commerce brands large and small. To build a cost-effective shipping strategy, this needs to be built into your fulfillment operation from the ground up.

Partnering with an experienced e-commerce provider enables brands to unlock advanced shipping optimization strategies that combine custom-tailored fulfillment services with in-house parcel expertise.

Thanks to their partnership with Ryder E-commerce, prenatal supplements brand FullWell has gained the following:

  • A centralized fulfillment strategy
  • Advanced cartonization
  • Shipping rate optimization
  • A 25% reduction in overall shipping costs
Collage of FullWell images: a person taking supplements, FullWell products, Whiplash’s fulfillment center, and illustration of a person ordering products online.

FullWell: High-quality supplements for prenatal health

FullWell was founded in 2019 by Ayla Barmmer, a Registered Dietitian at Boston Functional Nutrition who wanted to bring affordable prenatal products to men and women beyond her immediate client base. FullWell prioritizes taking a holistic approach to fertility wellness by designing approachable, direct-to-consumer supplements that can be easily integrated into busy lifestyles.

A relative newcomer to the highly competitive nutritional supplements space, FullWell has already built a trusted name for itself. Their prenatal vitamins have appeared in numerous ‘best picks’ lists by dietitians and fertility experts, resulting in rapid growth for the digitally-native brand. 

To keep pace with rising consumer demand, FullWell embarked on a search to find a new e-commerce fulfillment partner with the ability to support the brand’s expansion and tailor the optimal shipping strategy for their needs.

FullWell supplement bottles

Finding the right balance of technology and expertise

3PL partners come in all shapes and sizes – something that FullWell has grappled with ever since the business was founded. As FullWell progressed from a startup to a medium-sized business, it became clear that their current 3PL partner was no longer able to service their requirements. A lack of direct management over fulfillment centers and carrier relationships was resulting in poor communication and mistakes in the fulfillment process, despite the streamlined tech stack at their disposal.

“Something we’ve discovered is that a lot of 3PLs position themselves as turnkey solutions for Shopify-based D2C brands. But in reality, they struggle to marry the tech side with the fulfillment side,” says Chelsea Mays, Senior Director of Operations at FullWell. “Ultimately, having access to a great technology platform didn’t make up for the bad execution we were experiencing with our previous 3PL.”

Owing to these issues, FullWell made the decision that they needed to transition to a new provider quickly. But this was easier said than done. Nutritional supplements are highly regulated and must meet rigorous storage and safety requirements to go to market. Many standard fulfillment services aren’t set up to cater to this industry, usually due to cost and complexity.

“Supplement businesses like FullWell require advanced lot control, GMP certification, and FDA-registered fulfillment centers, which rules out a lot of 3PLs from the get-go,” says Michael Morante, Logistics Manager at the Columbus 3 Facility. “This demands the expertise of a full-service provider like Ryder E-commerce who can execute an entirely custom-tailored fulfillment strategy, rather than a 3PL specializing in one-size-fits-all pricing and services.”

With the holiday season looming, FullWell wanted to avoid a lengthy search for a new partner. They relied on 3PL recommendations from their personal and professional network, which led them to Ryder E-commerce. After a brief but thorough RFP process, the brand began transferring its inventory to the Columbus facility in mid-December and completed the process by January 12th, a rapid turnaround made possible by Ryder E-commerce’s streamlined onboarding process.

“What really won us over was how thorough the sales process was,” says Mays. “Ryder E-commerce gave us great projections and a solid understanding of what our brand would gain by partnering with them, which set the tone for a positive relationship.”

Cost-effective shipping from the ground up

Achieving a cost-effective shipping strategy starts long before any parcels are dispatched. Fulfillment center location plays a pivotal role in determining how much it costs to ship orders, in addition to transit times to the end customer. To keep both shipping costs and delivery timeframes as low as possible, brands need to choose a 3PL with multiple fulfillment locations that allow easy access to consumer hubs. 

The nature of their product means that timely shipping is of the essence for FullWell. Their customers are frequently ordering replenishments of prenatal vitamins and supplements, meaning any shipping delays could result in them running out of supply. This has made the location of their fulfillment operation especially important to achieve fast transit times at a reasonable cost.

A brand-new facility with a central location and access to multiple carrier options, Ryder E-commerce’s third Columbus facility is ideal for D2C brands that require rapid ground and air transportation.

“Columbus offers us a great geographic location and was one of the key reasons why we partnered with Ryder E-commerce,” says Mays. “Our Columbus facility offers affordable two-day shipping to the lower 48 states, so it’s easy to hit all our main markets. With manufacturers based on both the East and West coasts, a centralized fulfillment location was really important to receive additional inventory quickly when needed.”

Collage of FullWell images: FullWell supplement bottles, a map of distribution areas in the United States, a woman and her daughter opening a package.

How Ryder E-commerce delivered a 25% reduction in overall shipping spend

Iillustration of a box with products in it.Now armed with a strategic fulfillment location, it was time for FullWell to get back to basics with its shipping strategy – starting with cartonization. Regularly shipping bulky, lightweight containers pushes up carrier rates and results in businesses spending far more on shipping than necessary. Cartonization is an essential workflow in e-commerce fulfillment to streamline package size and minimize empty space for cheaper shipping rates.

“Our previous 3PL used their own packaging and didn’t have a strategy to manage dimensional weight, meaning our shipping costs could vary wildly,” says Mays. “We were used to managing cartonization ourselves, so it was a huge bonus to have the support of Ryder E-commerce. They contacted a box engineer and had samples made for us to review and select. This was integrated directly into the ordering process, which took it completely off our hands.”

The Ryder E-commerce Parcel team also provided valuable insights into where FullWell could optimize shipping costs by switching to a regional parcel carrier. Well-chosen regional parcel carriers can reach the same areas as their nationwide counterparts but for a lower price and faster delivery times. Ryder E-commerce’s SmartRate Selection tool allows the team to compare rates in real-time, allowing for intelligent, automated shipping rate analysis.

“A great shipping strategy is all about finding that sweet spot that takes into account both cost and delivery time, and this is unique to every business,” says Sean Kim, Head of Parcel at Ryder E-commerce. “By switching from UPS 2nd Day Air to Maergo and adding one additional business day, FullWell saw a 48% reduction in their shipping costs to the West Coast, and an overall cost decrease of 25%.”

Ready to scale with Ryder E-commerce

These shipping optimization initiatives are far more than numbers on the balance sheet for FullWell. As a small to medium-sized business, streamlining their fulfillment costs has enabled the brand to allocate more funds to marketing campaigns and making new hires – investments that are essential for a fast-growing D2C operation.

So, what’s next for FullWell? 

“Our business is expanding quickly. Our original onboarding questionnaire had just 4 SKUs, but later this year it will expand to 16,” says Mays. “We plan on launching on Amazon with new product kits, which requires implementing weekly kitting and cartonization that caters to Amazon’s requirements. Ryder E-commerce has been incredibly accommodating throughout and is always ready to respond to our needs.”

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