Here at Culture, we have an open mindset and are always looking to expand our skill sets and services. This past month, we stepped into uncharted territory and took on a 217,000 unit drop shipping project. In Culture Studio fashion, we dived in head first and figured out a way to make it happen.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
We introduced our Timed Campaigns, a program suited for artists and influencers to sell limited edition merchandise for a set duration of time. Once the campaign is over, we produce the merch and individually pack and send out directly to their fans. This concept is a little different from traditional drop shipping, but it helped us start developing a system that would set us up for success for larger projects. We figured out how to sync and batch orders, the most cost effective shipping methods, and organizational skills to keep everything in line.
Over the summer we started taking on small drop shipping projects, 150 unit orders of face masks or tees with a team of two people packing. This increased to a 700 piece order with multiple product options, and then our first major order of 70,000. At this point, we were getting the hang of it and forming a whole new department.
Youtube influencer held a 24-hour livestream for their merch launch, racking up 217,000 orders which they needed to immediately begin shipping. We synced to our shipping platform and created batches of labels organized by size. We then printed the labels, and kept a spreadsheet to track how many labels have been printed and shipped out. This also helped us estimate how much we needed to expand our team, by calculating the amount of items that could be packed by one person in a day.
We started off the project by bringing on 8 people, dedicated solely to this drop shipping project. We quickly expanded our team to 15 people for a more efficient process, sending out an average of 14,000 units a day. We divided the team assembly-line-style.
3 people were designated to labeling the poly mailers, which were then handed off to The Packers.
The rest of the team was in charge of folding and packing the merchandise, and dividing into designated shipping bins.
In charge of organizing garments and helping distribute correct sizes to The Packers to fulfill their orders.
Assigned to switching out shipping bins, replenishing supplies and garments, cleaning up the area, and any other tasks needed to keep the process running smoothly.
Our shipping department coordinated pick ups from USPS and made sure that all orders were going out correctly.
WHEN IT GOT MORE CHALLENGING…
Once we nailed the process, we were flying through single shipments. But now it was time to tackle multi-shipment orders, where our process and team would really be tested. These orders included mixed items in different styles and sizes, in which accuracy became the priority instead of speed.
The Multi-Shipment process looked a little something like this:
1. Carefully read the packing slip
2. Locate garments in correct style, size, and quantity
3. Fold & pack into poly mailers
4. Free sticker added for every item in order
5. Seal & drop into designated shipping bin (International, First Class, Priority, or Express)
This project proved that we are capable of scaling our services and quickly adapting to client’s needs. Keeping production and shipping all under one roof resulted in a time and cost effective method for the client to get merch out to their fans. Being able to oversee the process from start to finish left less room for error or delays in transferring product from one location to the next.
Reflecting on our process post-project, we found that a few crucial things kept us on track and brought us success.
Adaptability is key
We ran into issues along the way, between technology errors or having team members out sick. Even when it meant pulling people from the front office to help pack orders, we did whatever was needed to meet deadlines. If at first you don’t succeed…Get creative.
At one point, our shipping platform was experiencing technical issues and we were not able to print labels for 4 days. Luckily, we were prepared ahead of time and had printed out enough labels to last us for the week. We also stocked up on poly mailers, labels, printers, garment bins, and shipping cages to accommodate for this new increase in capacity. Being over-prepared ensured that there was no time wasted despite any hiccups in the process.
The team is everything
We curated a team of people with strong work ethic and attention to detail. With all hands on deck, it’s crucial that everyone is knowledgeable of the process in order to work together successfully. Assigning everyone a role helped to provide consistency and improve the overall “flow”.
And most importantly…
Nothing happens overnight
There were many weeks leading up to this and trial and error behind the scenes to get us to this point. Taking on a 217,000 unit drop shipping project from day 1 would have been chaotic to say the least. You have to walk before you can run (or in our case, recruit the sales and finance departments to pack orders before you form a drop shipping team).
We built a system that worked for us by diving in head first and tweaking along the way. We checked in daily to evaluate our progress and come up with ways to increase output. There’s always room to implement creative ways to improve efficiency, but you don’t really know until you start.
Interested in learning how drop shipping could be effective for your brand?
Drop us a line! firstname.lastname@example.org