These days, people want to feel like all of their experiences are tailored to them; customization is the name of the game. The Fulfillment Lab, a fulfillment marketing company, saw that this could be applied to eCommerce. Rick Nelson, CEO of The Fulfillment Lab, saw that many online retailers were great at marketing and had an excellent product, but weren’t always so great at communicating and managing inventory with manufacturers.
After researching some of the CRM software already on the market, and being unimpressed by it, he decided to create his own, which would give online retailers more visibility about consumer buying habits, as well as the ability to fully customize orders and get better insight into their inventories.
The Fulfillment Lab allows its clients to customize packaging based on the profile of their consumer, whether that be based on the state from which they’re purchasing, their gender, site navigation habits, overall cost of the order, etc. Instead of every consumer getting the same brown box regardless of what they’re buying, The Fulfillment Lab can print onto the package in full color on the warehouse floor, and tailor the shipment based on the criteria their client has laid out.
Grit Daily caught up with CEO Rick Nelson to learn more about this transparent and client-focused approach to eCommerce and fulfillment. Nelson explained how easy it is for new clients to get set up on The Fulfillment Lab’s Integration Wizard, which can be a 10 minute process, depending on how much customization they want. When asked whether clients have to use The Fulfillment Lab’s SKU (stock keeping unit) system, Nelson replied, “No, we’re going to adapt to their codes, and that’s why we made our own software, because every time we’re making the client do it our way, we’re not really representing their philosophy.” Customization applies across the board, from client to consumer.
The 8-year old company has 2 warehouses in the U.S. – in Salt Lake City and Tampa – and they’re planning to open another in Ohio. Clients can shelve products in any or all of the warehouses, which can cut shipping costs and get the product to the consumer faster. Nelson said The Fulfillment Lab’s model makes sense for companies shipping upwards of 25 orders per day. Instead of taking a percentage of the order cost as competitors like Amazon do, TFL takes a flat fee from clients to service all of their fulfillment needs.
Nelson expects the company to grow 3-5 times larger over the next 18 months. In 2016, The Fulfillment Lab made Inc.’s list of the 5000 fastest growing companies.
Nelson still considers The Fulfillment Lab a startup, because they’re always available to a client for a live chat meeting, and only have 30 full time employees, but his wife argues that TFL is beyond the startup phase; it’s stable and growing every year.
As for changes that occurred due to COVID-19, Nelson explains that tables in the warehouses have been spread out to comply with social distancing, PPE is provided to employees, and equipment is regularly sanitized. He said that TFL’s software makes it easy for brick-and-mortar stores to transition to an eCommerce model, and that they were glad to ship PPE and other essential equipment for clients working with FEMA.
The Fulfillment Lab also announced their new affiliate program. Affiliates can connect their audience with a reputable fulfillment company while earning credit and commissions. Affiliates sign up online, and then partners receive resources to market and sell the fulfillment services, along with a unique code that can be shared amongst their contacts. A completely transparent online portal is used to provide quick access to a partner’s commissions, resources, contact information and more.
As for the trajectory of the company, Nelson says that, “The most exciting thing is to see how we can continue to utilize processes, and have consistency throughout the organization to really have stability for the Fulfillment Lab which, in turn, gives stability to the employees.” Some clients have told Nelson that the value they’re getting from retention and repeat sales pays for shipping. To some, a customized box may seem superfluous, but the marketing research doesn’t lie; people like to feel like they are being seen, even if it’s by the online retailer they’re buying a pair of pants from.