Bhumi Organic Cotton: Reducing customer enquiries by 50% with StarShipIT
Bhumi (meaning Mother Earth) is a luxury brand of organic cotton bedding and lifestyle products for conscious consumers. We asked Co Founder Dushyant and Ops Manager, Farley to share their inspiring story of how a small boutique store has grown into a serious eCommerce business…
How did it all get started, what’s the inspiration behind it?
After spending many years travelling with a background in Health, and a Masters in International Public Health, Vinita knew that big change was needed. She had seen first-hand the disastrous health and environmental impacts of traditional cotton growing with farmer suicides, child labour, pesticide poisoning, birth defects, harmful dyes and toxic water ways. After years in the field meeting with amazing NGOs, grassroots organisations and a growing movement of organic farmers, Vinita felt it was time for positive change.
Vinita felt compelled to tackle some of the things that happen behind the scenes in the cotton industry. She and husband Dushyant also wanted to address the human aspect of cotton production – with a view to reducing and raising awareness of child labour, sweat shops and poor working conditions. A combination of her deep love for the Earth, humanity and sustainable design, led Vinita to create Bhumi Organic Cotton.
They started out by producing a basic range of organic cotton sheets and duvet covers made in Fair Trade factories, to be sold through their small boutique store in Melbourne. The pair received such great feedback on their products as well as receiving requests for other products, that they saw the need to extend their range.
In just four years, Vinita and Dushyant have built up a thriving retail business that they are rightly proud of. They now have a fantastic range of products ranging from bed linen to active wear.
How do you manage the running of your business with multi channel fulfilment?
They manage the business with a core team of three full time staff. Day to day, Vinita is responsible for looking after the product development, blog, social media, photo shoots and creative content. Dushyant looks after the sales & marketing, production and website development. Farley manages the overall operations, including storage, warehousing and fulfilment and customer experience.
There are also several staff members who run the Melbourne retail store and operate a large warehouse with a few staff dedicated to their account. They work with a team of production managers in India, who oversee QA, production and exporting all within Fair Trade facilities. The team love what they do; the positive change they are affecting through their products and they love coming to work each day knowing they are helping to make a difference.
The Bhumi team use Shopify for their eCommerce store which helps them manage their inventory and links through to StarShipIT for the fulfilment side of things.
As they were a boutique store initially they weren’t thinking of online sales so much – it was mid-way through their journey when they realised they needed to focus on online and look for a good eCommerce fulfilment solution.
They made the switch to StarShipIT
Before StarShipIT, they used ShipStation. The challenge they found with ShipStation is that it is a US based company and this meant that a lot of their services and postal service providers were US based. This meant that their support team were supporting technical issues for large US providers by and large.
“In terms of ShipStation’s support, if you had an issue with Australia Post they couldn’t give an immediate answer. Their software wasn’t originally designed for Australia Post or Australian carriers so they aren’t intrinsically set up to support Australian based issues.”
Dushyant looked for a new shipping integration on the Shopify app store that was designed specifically for Australian and NZ couriers to support their customers across Australasia.
Dushyant knew that to reduce the wait time for support and minimise issues, they needed an integration that specialised in the specific courier services that supported these regions.
Some of the key functionality that Dushyant required in a new shipping solution included:
- Notifications: Dushyant was really keen to have this feature as one of the most common questions when a customer places an order is, “When will it arrive?” They wanted to send the customer automated shipping notifications at every stage of the parcel’s journey and reduce the amount of customer enquiries.
- Branded Tracking: Customers want to know when they will receive it and like to have the control over checking the status of the order in transit. StarShipIT’s branded tracking allows them this control. It has also reduced the number of enquiries and phone calls the team field by 50%.
- Order Tracking: Customers are happier knowing their order status. Farley and the team have seen a significant drop in enquiries about ETA’s by as much as 50% as well as a significant drop in incorrectly delivered parcels thanks to StarShipIT’s address validation. Dushyant reviewed the options available and looked for an integration that would meet all of their criteria – it needed to offer branded tracking, notifications, support Australian and New Zealand couriers and have a great support team who responded immediately.
StarShipIT ticked all the boxes so they made the switch and they haven’t looked back.
What issues or hurdles did you face when you started out?
One of their biggest challenges is around the transfer of knowledge. Warehouse staff have a high turnover rate and when someone leaves, they take all their knowledge and training with them, meaning new staff need to be trained.
With the StarShipIT system, it’s so much easier to train a new team member quickly – usually within a week they will be up and running, once Farley has taken them through the software and the fulfillment processes. The team finds StarShipIT really easy to use after some initial training and can then process orders very quickly.
What benefits have you seen since implementing StarShipIT for international shipping?
Because StarShipIT is one single interface, you can can choose different carriers and then compare the prices easily. You can also have multiple carriers, you can pick and choose the ones that work best for your business.
What are some of the benefits of using StarShipIT?
- We receive orders via multiple channels both through our physical store and through our website. Although it may vary depending upon product launch or promotions, generally we process and ship around 150 to 200 products a day – but if a retail promotion is running, we can have as many as 1500 orders to process in a day. Previously that volume would have taken days to get through!
- With StarShipIT it only takes seconds, not minutes to process an order.
- Life is so much easier now – both in terms of managing and training new staff as well as the fulfilment side of things. Other time saving features such as address validation has meant they get significantly less returns from shipping errors and customer enquiries have also dramatically reduced with shipping notifications replacing the need for customer’s to individually contact the team for their parcel status and ETA.
- Using StarShipIT, they have been able to double the number of orders they process and dispatch per day.
What’s in the future for Bhumi?
The team have a very exciting year ahead – they are investing in more new product lines, and forecasting 3 x growth this year. They will also be selling on Amazon and using Fulfilment by Amazon in addition to their retail and online stores to grow globally.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
“Always look at how your product is adding value for the customer – what problem is it solving, how can it help your customer? What differentiates your product from the rest? Finally, being willing and able to adapt as required is critical in business.”
Adapt or die
Bhumi is a great example of how a traditional bricks and mortar store adapted to the move towards online shopping and have kept abreast of technological developments in order to adapt and thrive in a new environment.
”StarShipIT made fulfillment a breeze from day one! The platform is user friendly and extremely efficient…with an amazing support team if there are any questions. The system has meant we have been able to fulfill thousands of orders in fewer days resulting in happy customers.” Farley Thomson, Operations Manager
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