Apparel & Fashion
Shopify & Shipster
Could Saint and Sofia regain control of the customer experience by switching out a 3PL for their own in-house fulfillment model?
Saint and Sofia is an award winning brand based in London, England creating fashion and accessories that are fair and sustainable. We believe in challenging the status quo; fusing the art of design with the science of production. We design all of our styles in our London studios and make them in Europe with family-owned factories that we control.
Despite being in its relative infancy, having launched in January 2020, the Saint and Sofia brand has already taken the fashion world by storm. With designers featured in Vogue, celebrities and influencers clamouring to wear the clothes and sales booming month over month – when you get the product, the audience, and the experience right, this is what can happen.
“There were some great memories from those early days. The team would share pictures whenever one of us saw someone “in the wild” wearing our clothes, and I remember the deliveries getting larger and larger every month. The start-up mentality and energy in the company was really exciting.”
Amber Duncan, Customer Experience and Fulfillment Manager
Amazing growth but a CSAT score plummeting!
Their 3-year meteoric rise has not been without its challenges. Initially, the ecommerce brand opted to work with a 3PL, outsourcing their fulfillment while managing all other aspects of the business in house. When sales volumes were manageable for the 3PL, there were not too many issues, and customers were receiving their orders as expected. Rapid growth, however, started to apply unsustainable pressure on this way of working.
“While we maintained a great working relationship with the 3PL we were using, we wanted to increase control over our fulfillment as ultimately this was the only touch point we had with the customer. With the customer experience and our reputation so important to us, we had to start thinking very seriously about how we could bring fulfillment in house, much like other aspects of our business. We wanted to offer a differentiated customer experience and that can only be done within a dedicated environment.”
Saint and Sofia decided to open its own fulfillment facility to support both their ongoing commitment to customer experience and the future growth plans.
Making the big decisions when going ‘in-house’
“Everyone sat around the table in a meeting, and we had a hands up exercise: Should we move to another 3PL, or should we make the brave, but needed decision to set up our own warehouse and bring fulfillment in house? The team decided it was the right thing for us to do. . We started from square one. We need a warehouse, a warehouse manager and a warehouse management system. That was where this journey really began.”
Despite the daunting prospect, the team were all determined to make this new in-house warehouse a success, and managed to get together all the requisite pieces of the puzzle, so they thought.
“Once we had found a great location and hired the team, including a superstar warehouse manager, tech decisions were next. We initially decided to use the same WMS that our 3PL had been using. With all the other changes and disruption to the business, it seemed sensible to try and keep just one thing consistent, and avoid any potential headaches of having to learn an entirely new system as well.”
Unfortunately, the logic didn’t prove true. Whilst the team were familiar with this system from a client perspective, they had never used it operationally and immediately had issues. In particular, the implementation of this platform was challenging, painful and unsuccessful. The newly appointed warehouse manager did not feel like the system was a good fit for their business and the rapid growth plans it was in their mandate to support. The decision was taken to investigate a more scalable system that would be better suited to their direct to consumer fashion operation.
“We’ve never had this much visibility working with a third party. Now, we can report back to the rest of the business with clarity.
The system has helped cut down picking and packing mistakes, which is something we’re proud to share with other departments, especially the customer support team who are also feeling the benefits of this new control over fulfillment quality.”
Customer Experience Manager
Saint and Sofia
Realising the potential of a purpose-built WMS
“We didn’t have much experience within the team, and almost felt like a warehouse management system was just a warehouse management system. However, as soon as we saw the first demo of Peoplevox, we realised the unique selling points of the system:
- We were really excited by the features and how the platform was tailored for ecommerce
- The references Peoplevox had in the fashion industry were stand out
- It was clear that there were a team of experts behind the product who would support us and help us both at the start and throughout.”
Based on extremely tight deadlines, leaving the 3PL, moving to the new location and being ready for Peak trading, a project was launched to get Saint and Sofia’s new warehouse operational with Peoplevox as their WMS in just under 4 weeks! With dedicated collaboration, the team were ready to go on time.
“We really appreciated the training, broken up into weekly, digestible modules, as well as the hands-on project management. It was thanks to this quality level of support that we were able to get Peoplevox set up and live as quickly as we did!”
Operating every day with speed and accuracy, at scale
18 months on, the warehouse operation has gone from strength to strength. The team are all cross-trained on pick, pack, despatch, goods-in and replenishment. There’s a buzz about the place – replicating the passion for the brand found in the office in the warehouse has been a key goal for the owners of the business – and dashboards on big screens keep the team motivated. The fastest picker and packer of each week is rewarded with a whole company shout-out!
“Implementing Peoplevox has been a resounding success. Looking back at the stress we went through; I can now safely say it was the best thing we ever did! The system itself helps us to be efficient, thanks to the logic and workflows happening behind the scenes in the platform. Then it’s the way the WMS brings together the experience of our warehouse manager with the goals of the business, supporting our growth and ensuring every order is going out on time, correctly, without any worries. We feel like we’ve really nailed it.”
Data driven decisions and being ready for the future
In terms of reporting, running their own warehouse with Peoplevox, rather than relying on a 3PL, it’s night and day.
“We’ve never had this much visibility working with a third party. Now, we can report back to the rest of the business with clarity. The system has helped cut down picking and packing mistakes, which is something we’re proud to share with other departments, especially the customer support team who are also feeling the benefits of this new control over fulfillment quality.”
The data available to the team allows them to prepare for sales periods with confidence. Previous Black Friday sales were filled with trepidation, but in 2022, Saint and Sofia managed to deliver a huge spike in order volume without any drop off of their KPIs or SLAs.
“Looking ahead, I think we can be really excited about Black Friday 2023. We know we will be able to support all those new customers without seeing any issues on despatch times or warehouse picking errors. I think our warehouse team embraces the challenge of being busier now – they’re empowered by the WMS and always want to beat records!”
Saint and Sofia is a business that genuinely cares about its customer base, and one that understands how crucial fulfillment is to build its brand and reputation.
“Our focus looking ahead is to keep that customer experience brilliant from start to finish, even as the business grows. Everyone is on board with this.”