Managing Fulfillment Pain Points When Entering New Channels

While most beauty brands begin their journey with just one to two channels for consumer purchase, today expanding your customer base and increasing revenue means growing the business through multiple channels.

In the latest WWD-produced webinar, Craig Harris, industry principle apparel, fashion and accessories at Oracle NetSuite, and Tomei Thomas, chief executive officer at Beekman 1802, joined WWD executive editor Arthur Zaczkiewicz in discussing the impact an omnichannel strategy has on customer experience and acquisition, how to effectively manage inventory and fulfill transactions for a plethora of channels and how Beekman 1802 built livestream shopping experiences through HSN and QVC, coupled with its own livestream events.

Founded in 2008, Beekman 1802’s founders’ start could be called “accidental,” getting its start as a means to make a farm work for itself. At its core, the goat milk-based beauty brand is a brand built on innovation, need and belief that there is beauty in kindness. Today, Beekman 1802 has become a popular clean beauty brand featured in Ulta Beauty, QVC and HSN and in more than 2,000 independent retail shops nationwide.

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“I had known when I joined the business eight years ago that if I could just get people to try the goat-based products, they would notice the difference in their skin after the very first use, and then they would come back,” Thomas said. “It worked a little too well. We grew, extremely quickly and in the beginning could not even keep the product in stock, and certainly these growing pains with the system we were using being QuickBooks, but also a litany of manual spreadsheets is what held us together in those early days.”

The brand was growing so quickly, in fact, that Thomas said the company experienced a time when they couldn’t hire people fast enough in an attempt to keep up with its manual process. Having grown too quickly for manual spreadsheets, Beekman 1802 instituted Oracle NetSuite in 2018 — a digital advancement that allowed the company to see possibilities to scale over the next 10 to 30 years.

“That evolution of systems is really the cue up of adding channels to the business in order to scale and grow,” Harris said. “And I believe that Beekman 1802 has really made a name for itself, with you know with livestream shopping.”

Craig Harris, industry principle apparel, fashion and accessories at Oracle NetSuite. 

For Beekman 1802, livestreaming began with its founders explaining the brand’s products and benefits with followers on Facebook.

“We were using video to communicate not only that story but the benefits of products,” Thomas said. “And then as time has gone on, we have continued to invest in livestreaming, with social selling, as well as through our platform.”

Notably, a live poll was taken during the webinar, which asked participants to share if they had started adding new selling channels found an even split between those who had and those who had not.

For Beekman 1802, who felt confident in repeat consumers once they got the product into the shopper’s hands, livestreaming was a channel that made sense as a way to grow. With livestreaming, Thomas said, the brand is able to essentially sell consumers on the brand’s story, making it a great way to acquire new “neighbors.”

“We always say, you can sell anyone on a great story one time, but the repeat is because the product worked and made a difference in your life,” Thomas said. “So while it is great that we have these stories and then there is an amazing story behind them too that really tries to help the planet of animals in the community, ultimately they do also make a great impact on your skin.”

Tomei Thomas, chief executive officer at Beekman 1802. 

Still, as one of the pioneering brands in the livestreaming space, Thomas said it was hard to predict inventory needs in the beginning and while it is always the goal to sell products in real-time, occasionally it has caused sell-outs on the company’s site. In fact, he shared that the site experiences anywhere from a 300 percent to 500 percent increase to its average daily volume through e-commerce on days where the brand livestreams.

“We want to create an extraordinary ‘neighbor’ experience,” Thomas said. “And that’s getting the product to the customer in an expedited manner as quickly as we absolutely can. Demand planning and forecasting is the backbone of everything we do, especially when you’re growing as rapidly as we have. And part of that comes from understanding your historical data so when we do our livestream events. The data definitely helps you understand exactly how much you need to be prepared for in terms of having product ready and NetSuite provides you that access to data that we just previously didn’t have.”

For all brands, no matter what new channel they are considering adding, Harris said it clear that planning and forecasting is part of the “secret sauce to any successful brand.”


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