Apparel & Fashion
Shopify + Shipster
UK & Ireland
Upgrading the warehouse at a critical time for ambitious fitness brand AYBL
In just under 4 years, UK-founded AYBL has made an indelible imprint on the fitness industry. The Edgerton brothers took on the giants and launched a brand that goes beyond product and strives for community, empowerment and enjoyment.
In 2018, the two founders were running their female-focused gymwear label out of their front room. Fast forward to early 2022, and they’ve put up the numbers to show the industry they are a serious player: 600% profit growth in year 3, 500k orders shipped to over 160 countries in 2021, new, bespoke HQ with 40+ full-time staff. All while negotiating challenges presented by COVID and managing growing pains that come with such a rise.
Underpinning their strategy is to build a community, not just to ‘sell product‘. “We are not a brand that focuses just on selling”, the founders tell us. “We are building a true community amongst our customers. We have taken the time to understand exactly what our customers’ wants and needs are, and we’ve always tried to go above and beyond to over deliver for them.”
This may well be part of the secret sauce that has propelled them to their current £50mn valuation. The customers they have are loyal, committed, and feel like they are part of something. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that has been cultivated: customers enjoy the experience, build relationships, look awesome at the gym; AYBL has loyal shoppers who are first in line for their latest drops, already sold on their exclusive product ranges, and act as a tribe of social marketers to their friends and training partners.
Getting the warehouse set up for growth
In order to deliver on customer promises and build loyalty, you have to be able to rely on your warehouse and fulfillment capability. Every order shipped on time, accurately, with visibility into the process, easy returns, all on demand and fast. That’s the dream for any direct-to-consumer brand. Speaking with Paul Maynard, Operations Manager for AYBL, it was clear when technology needed to come into their warehouse to safeguard that experience as they grew:
“A turning point came when I realised we needed to add more labour into the warehouse. I could see a potential bottleneck with the way we were doing things. We were using sheets to pick from, and when scaling up it was difficult to maintain pick accuracy”.
It’s a scenario we’re all too familiar with. Paper pick sheets get thrown around, product ID is done by eye and ‘picked’ only means ‘ticked off’. There is a mountain of issues that can build up with this process, that exacerbate at scale. Fortunately, Paul could lean on his experience.
“I had previously heard of Peoplevox years before even starting AYBL. It was the first company to come to mind when I got serious about implementing a WMS”.
“We are not a brand that focuses just on selling. We are building a true community amongst our customers.
We have taken the time to understand exactly what our customers’ wants and needs are, and we’ve always tried to go above and beyond to over deliver for them.”
After a consultative sales approach and thorough implementation process, AYBL was ready to go-live on Peoplevox in August 2020. The improvements to their performance and capability were apparent from day 1, as Paul describes:
“Instantly we were able to improve picking accuracy and efficiency. We no longer needed to keep our warehouse layout in SKU order, which had been a particular challenge previously. The system has allowed us to scale up to 100+ people during peak periods, and we can train new staff within hours, which beforehand would never have been possible.”
Those Peak periods are a time when the brand is on show to more people than ever. Your reputation is at stake, and how well you handle the pressure, fulfillling more demand than ever, is a true test.
“There’s something about Black Friday that is different to any other period in the business. It’s the most exciting moment.”
Managing demand spikes and Peak periods
It’s important for AYBL that Peoplevox integrates into their overall operation, both technically, receiving orders through their Shopify store, and operationally.
“We manage our huge peaks by being close to our key partners, such as our couriers and temporary labour agency provider. We always capture lessons learnt from each sale – keep doing what went well, cut out what didn’t go so well, and we put actions in place when planning for the next sale period. Labour and system planning is essential.
We have developed really good picking and packing reports via Peoplevox that were key for us in managing temporary labour performance, enabling us to identify top performers who we could offer full-time roles to as AYBL employees.
Above all, we focus on communication, so both internal and external partners are always kept up to date.”
“We have developed really good picking and packing reports via Peoplevox.
These were key for us in managing temporary labour performance, enabling us to identify top performers who we could offer full time roles to as AYBL employees.”
Going from strength to strength in 2022
So far, it is all going according to plan for the ever-growing gymwear business, which has recently received new funding, welcomed on-board experienced leadership, and rolled out their new ‘AYBL group’ structure. Couple that with launching their new brand ‘Because of Alice’ and moving to a new, dynamic HQ, we’re extremely excited and hopeful for their prospects moving forward.
“Our plan is to invest in other founder-led ecommerce companies in the future. We want to build the AYBL group into the biggest ecommerce group within the UK.”
Don’t be surprised if they do.
Update Summer 2023: They did!