From placing an order to fast shipping and easy returns management, every touchpoint in the ecommerce experience must follow on seamlessly from the last to ensure customer satisfaction. This is where powerful integrations are essential to minimize inefficiencies and ensure a real-time flow of information across systems.
Plug and play integrations with popular ecommerce platforms are easy enough for 3PLs to master. But what happens when a brand brings its very own custom-built systems to a fulfillment partnership?
We’re going to explore how Whiplash assisted Tuckernuck in building a fully customized ecosystem of integrations, enabling the apparel brand to pioneer a responsive and scalable ecommerce fulfillment strategy.
Named for the mysterious island off the coast of Nantucket where they spent summer vacations, Tuckernuck is an expression of fun, family, and adventure. By bringing together the essence of the local boutique with the convenience of online shopping, the result is an apparel brand that prides itself on offering wardrobe staples with just the right amount of nostalgia.
It’s not unusual for fast-growing ecommerce brands to discover the hard way that they’ve outgrown their current 3PL partnership. In a dynamic ecommerce landscape where order volumes can scale rapidly within a short space of time, a merchant’s fulfillment needs may be very different from what they were a year or even six months prior.
There are a variety of signs that the time has come to switch to a different fulfillment provider, from a lack of inventory visibility to problems with integrations. For Tuckernuck, it was growing delays to order processing and fulfillment that made it clear the time had come to make the switch. With their last 3PL, it was taking as long as 7-10 days for orders to be dispatched, making it impossible to meet customer expectations for rapid delivery.
“Tuckernuck was originally going to partner with a different 3PL, but we decided to check out Whiplash after hearing some great things from other brands,” says Jon-Mark Craddock, Director of Logistics at Tuckernuck. “By the following week we had toured the Columbus facility and that really sealed the deal for us. What Whiplash was offering was a whole different ballgame in terms of technology and customization.”
Behind every online store is a complex set of building blocks that powers the entire customer experience: ecommerce integrations. Integrations are responsible for making sure that every element of the shopping journey goes smoothly – especially when it comes to transmitting information to your 3PL partner.
Tuckernuck presented an interesting challenge because the brand wasn’t using any of the ecommerce platforms that Whiplash maintains pre-built integrations for. This meant that everything needed to be built completely from scratch.
“Tuckernuck’s onboarding process was a lot more complex than many of our other customers because they were bringing in a custom ERP, shopping cart, and return management system,” says Brian Weinstein, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Whiplash. “This required our team to build a custom integration solution so that all of their systems could connect seamlessly to the Whiplash platform and maintain a flow of real-time data.”
The result of these efforts? Tuckernuck went from orders taking 7-10 days to be processed and shipped to just 48 hours, enabling them to guarantee 3-4 day delivery to all of their customers.
“Faster turnaround has enabled us to scale up how many orders we can ship per day,” said Jon-Mark Craddock, Director of Logistics at Tuckernuck. “Our biggest day so far with Whiplash saw us ship between 19,000 to 20,000 orders during our January sample sale—a volume that would have taken around 14 days with our old 3PL. Despite the complexity of the implementation, the results were totally worth it.”
Although multi-node fulfillment strategies are gaining increasing popularity for ecommerce brands, centralized order fulfillment from a single facility offers businesses a lot of advantages, including lower operating costs, more oversight, and less complexity with inventory allocation.
Whiplash’s Columbus location is home to three state-of-the-art ecommerce fulfillment and distribution facilities in close proximity to major transportation networks, making it the ideal option for ecommerce brands who require a centralized fulfillment solution to reach customers in multiple regions.
“Initially, we wanted a facility in the New Jersey area because this gave us easy access to our inventory stored in Washington D.C.,” says Craddock. “But being in Columbus has turned out to be a huge advantage, due to the central location and short delivery timeframes to most regions. Right now, the majority of our customers are located in Texas or the East Coast, which gives us plenty of room for growth in the Midwest.”
This distance from their inventory hasn’t proven to be a problem for Tuckernuck, thanks to their integration with Whiplash’s proprietary ecommerce technology. Our in-house inventory and order management platform allow brands to keep tabs on their operation from anywhere in the country, opening up more flexibility to choose strategic locations for fulfillment.
“Whiplash platform has meant that it hasn’t been necessary for Tuckernuck to be right next door to our warehouse.,” says Craddock. “We can see inventory levels to real-time across our product catalog. I haven’t been in our warehouse since November 2021 because weekly visits are no longer necessary when we have complete inventory visibility.”
Shipping can be the most volatile and unpredictable of all ecommerce fulfillment costs, especially during peak season. While brands who outsource fulfillment to 3PLs will gain access to wholesale rates, this doesn’t always mean they have flexibility over what carriers they partner with.
“Shipping costs were a growing issue for us at our last 3PL because they only shipped packages using USP,” says Craddock. “Using only one parcel carrier meant that we were effectively held hostage by their rates and didn’t have the ability to avoid GRIs or surcharges. The rate shopping services offered by Whiplash have been a real game-changer in this regard.”
Thanks to Whiplash’s SmartRate Selection tool, customers can leverage cost-effective shipping rates by comparing multiple carriers in real-time. Our team can also analyze a brand’s order history to develop the perfect shipping strategy that meets customer expectations for speed while optimizing for cost.
“The other powerful functionality that Whiplash customers have at their disposal is the Order Rules tool,” says Sean Kim, Head of Parcel at Whiplash. “Order Rules enable brands to set up detailed criteria for which shipping methods and service levels are used for different types of orders. This granular level of control allows our team to keep a close eye on their shipping costs and look for ways to optimize spending.”
Tuckernuck was able to save tens of thousands of dollars per year on shipping costs, simply by creating an Order Rule which directed orders over a certain DIM weight to specific carriers – and a task which only took them about 30 seconds to set up.
“Order Rules are a fantastic example of how intuitive the Whiplash platform is, “says Craddock. “I was able to set up our core shipping strategy with no programming experience whatsoever. Our customer experience agents have also been able to jump in to retrieve information without any lengthy tutorials. It’s the ideal system for a busy ecommerce brand like ours.”
With a custom integration solution from Whiplash that gives Tuckernuck access to centralized fulfillment and rapid, affordable shipping, the apparel brand to much better-positioned to achieve high rates of customer satisfaction that foster brand loyalty.
“Efficiency is the best word I can think of to describe Whiplash,” says Craddock. “They were determined to get us to the finish line and completely understood our needs for much complex configurations. By partnering with Whiplash, we have more opportunities for growth than ever before.”