Sometimes things don't go exactly to plan. But that doesn't mean things can't go extremely well anyway! This is certainly true for Mr Consistent Co-Founders Jarrad, Jeremy and Mikey who, up until 2020, were veterans of the hospitality and entertainment industry, but now find themselves as the leading trio behind one of Australia's hottest e-commerce, direct to consumer brands.
The idea for the product itself started with a serious problem the guys came up against in their large entertainment venue: how do we get these delicious cocktails out to the crowds faster, at higher volume, without sacrificing on the quality that comes with a handmade speciality drink? Working on a recipe fit for weddings, parties and other events, the team were able to create a perfect solution for their problem. However, only a few short weeks later, that 'problem' disappeared... as COVID hit, events stopped, venues were shut down and the hospitality industry very sadly had to close its doors.
The three founding members saw an opportunity. Recruiting superstar e-commerce executive Kahrissa Bell to help out, all efforts were pivoted to creating a D2C, online brand to sell their new 'perfect from home' cocktail mixers to customers in the local area. Within just two weeks the website, brand, labelling and product development had taken shape, and Mr Consistent was born.
Product strategy was clear: a classic Margarita (who doesn't love?!), a well executed Bloody Mary (a true test of quality) and a Sours (hardest to recreate from home, usually.) And initially, the idea was just to use the online store to sell to their extended friends and family, a few 10s of orders per week if things went well. Well... their following grew from a few hundred to a few thousand almost overnight. Within the first few weeks of launching, Mr Consistent was getting 100s of orders per week, with both new customers and people coming back for more and more after a great first experience. As we know, the key to building a successful brand is to foster a close relationship with your loyal customers, and this is exactly how the Mr Consistent team approached growth, even while fulfilling orders out of a garage with a fridge!
The dream start continued: the visual nature of the product made it an instant Instagram favourite, and through social media, fantastic branding and word of mouth, more and more customers across the nearby areas began enjoying the Mr Consistent cocktail experience from home in lockdown. As order volumes continued to rise exponentially, handling all the processes with just a small team of 4 in a garage was no longer feasible.
Such was the extraordinary growth of the brand, the team first moved operations into a former ice-cream store that they thought could comfortably be their home for the next 2-3 years. They outgrew it in 6 months. It was all hands to the pump to keep up with demand: long shifts for their team members, sometimes working 7am to midnight just to pack all the orders to ensure they met delivery promises. The team were extremely conscious of keeping that Consistent message in their service and their products but as their popularity increased, even with a team of 10 they were struggling to pack 100 orders a day. Finding the right stock to pack, keeping track of inventory, and overall efficiency of processes were all holding them back.
Bring in Kahrissa's expertise: having worked in the e-commerce industry, she knew there were much better ways of working out there, and that fashion brands were able to ship 1000s of orders a day without needing 100s of staff members or 24 hour shifts!
Problem areas to address:
Paper must go! The team were printing pick lists and stapling together labels by hand just to try and find the items for one order at a time. There was no capability to group orders together or pick more than one order at a time.
Improve warehouse layout and remove 'human knowledge' requirement. If you hadn't spent enough time learning where all the products were kept, it would take far too long to locate any one item.
Cut out overselling / out of stocks. The website was letting customers purchase items that the team didn't actually have in stock in the warehouse. Cancelling orders and having to offer refunds was a heartbreaking waste of time and money for a new business finding their feet and building up their reputation.
Scalability. All these issues were rearing their collective heads over the supposed 'quieter' winter months. The team were only going to get rapidly busier as summer rolled around and there were fears the entire operation would just crash.
Mr Consistent got in touch with us as they'd seen our work with fashion brands like Showpo and Princess Polly across Australia. They knew our platform enables businesses to scale up to handle 1000s of orders per day while keeping things smooth for the end customer. The first challenge for our working partnership was a tight deadline. Mr Consistent needed to be live on a new WMS as soon as possible, especially with Black Friday and the height of Australian summer creeping up only a month and a half away. Thanks to a strong customer/vendor relationship fronted by Nicholas Yule, our APAC lead, we were able to get the project across the line in early November.
Ensure a consistent, superior customer experience at scale. Kahrissa puts it plainly: "If you don't put the customer first, there is essentially no point even operating". Whilst before inefficient processes were slowing the team down and putting their customers' experiences at risk, once live on Peoplevox, the small but effective team were able to transform their ways of working, picking, packing and shipping orders more accurately and faster, even as the summer Peak period came.
Ease of use. "The most important thing for us was that we needed something everybody could jump on and understand without a huge amount of training. While we do have the warehouse manager who knows how it all works and can troubleshoot when required, everyone else, whether that's temporary staff or employees from other parts of the business, can get into the warehouse and onto the system, without having to go through a week of training. It really helps out in those busy periods."
Visibility into their efforts. The team opted to put dashboards up on screens in the warehouse, giving them the ability to track pick and pack rates, have friendly competition between the team, and how ahead or behind they might be on one particular day. Information of this nature allows them to predict with far greater accuracy how many people they will need to handle varying order volume, whether that's flexing up for busy periods by calling in casual staff or employees from other departments, or having the confidence to keep it bare-bones during the (very rare) lulls and letting the other team members stay out the warehouse!