Flora & Fauna: Saving $80k a year on eCommerce fulfilment with StarShipIT
We spoke to Julie Mathers, Founder, on how it all began, their eCommerce order fulfilment and shipping processes and their plans for 2018.
Flora & Fauna is a multi award winning Australian based eco, ethical online retailer with a sharp focus on the environment. They sell everything from beauty, home-wares, lifestyle, fashion – covering a broad spectrum of products.
The team pride themselves on the fact that everything is 100% vegan, ethical and 100% cruelty free. The movement towards animal and cruelty free products is growing as consumers demand more information on what is in their products and where they come from.
“For example, when you go to buy makeup, it’s unclear what’s actually in it. Let’s take lipstick for example. Many people wouldn’t know that a key ingredient in red lipstick is carmine. Carmine is literally made from crushed up insects, specifically a South American red beetle called Cochineal. They are farmed and mass produced to then be ground up, boiled and used as an ingredient in food and makeup.”
So how did it all begin?
The brain child of Julie Mathers in June 2014, Flora & Fauna was launched in November that same year. Julie had worked in retail for 25 years and felt frustrated by the way things were being done and she always wanted to run a retail brand in a better way.
Fed up with retailers not being responsible for what they do and the impact they have on the planet, as a passionate animal advocate and environmentalist, Julie decided “I think it’s a problem, let’s solve it.”
With Australia being the third fastest growing vegan market in the world, it was a smart decision. Flora & Fauna has grown its humble beginnings to become a serious player in the eco-ethical eCommerce space. They began by selling beauty products and makeup with around 30 brands and 500 initial products in the range. Today they have 200 brands and 4000 products. The business has expanded from being solely beauty products to now including products that encompass everything we do every day.
Day to day, Julie and her husband Tom manage the business. Tom runs the operations and the finance, Julie looks after the strategy for the business, product sourcing and manages everything to do with the website. Julie also deals with the suppliers, the plans for the year and is always pushing forward in terms of what they can do. They have a team of around 15 in the warehouse alone, including a Warehouse Manager and they have a digital specialist and graphic designer on staff.
We asked Julie about achieving B Corp Status and what it means for her and Flora & Fauna.
As part of their ongoing mission to be the most ethical and eco-friendly retailer they can be, they recently achieved B Corp status. This has elevated them to the enviable position of one of the only retailers in Australia to have met the rigorous standards of B Corp.
B Corp is about people using businesses for good. To get this status means they look at every single aspect of your business. This includes whether you source locally, your supply chain and every product you stock. They assess whether it’s organic, biodegradable, waste management, how you manage water and more. They review what you are doing in the community as well as for your team including how much you pay them, how they are treated e.g. internships versus paid labour.
To get B Corp status, responsible retailing isn’t just one element, it is integrated through the business, driven right from the top, throughout every aspect of the business.
“The whole team works together to ensure they are keeping true to the B Corp status with the freedom to voice their opinions and suggest new ideas. B Corp is something that we need to continue to work for, we have to be re-accredited every 2 years, which holds them to account. Your company’s score is published on the B Corp website, so it’s very public and transparent and gives consumers that further level of confidence. Julie would love every retailer to think about what they could do differently. “When you have more awareness about what impact you are having on the planet, you can then think about how to do things differently.”
Check it out for yourself and do your own B Impact Assessment: https://app.bimpactassessment.net/get-started/bcorporation
How do you manage inventory?
We currently use an inventory management system but we are currently reviewing other systems and warehouse management systems too. Essentially this year is our “growing up year’, we have reached the point where we now need better systems and a bigger warehouse. So we are putting in the better systems and we are moving into a new warehouse later this year which will fulfil both Australia and Global orders.
How did you manage eCommerce fulfilment and shipping prior to StarShipIT?
Before we used StarShipIT for eCommerce order fulfilment and shipping, life was manual and painful. Each eCommerce order would take us close to a minute or longer to process, instead of seconds. With StarShipIT automating our ecommerce order fulfilment and shipping processes, the team are pushing thousands of orders out a week in a significantly shorter time-frame.
We chose StarShipIT’s eCommerce fulfilment software because we needed something quick, reliable and easy to use and it integrates with the shipping providers we use.
StarShipIT is easy enough to train everyone up on the system and have the whole team using it if need be. We are now in a good place with a dedicated warehouse team; some pick products, some do the packing and others ship the orders. We have system checks in place as well to ensure order accuracy.
What criteria did you look for in an eCommerce shipping solution?
- Easy to use and train others with ongoing support
- Easy website integration (we use Neto)
- Integration with both Australia Post (eParcel) and DHL eCommerce (which very few other shipping integrations could do)
- Multiple carrier integrations were a key requirement for us
What is life like now with StarShipIT?
- With StarShipIT’s ecommerce shipping integration, Flora and Fauna can process orders in seconds, not minutes, saving us over $80k per year, improving order and delivery accuracy.
- When customers enter in their own delivery addresses incorrectly, StarShipIT will pick up the error automatically and auto correct which is a big time saver and reduces delivery errors and subsequent customer enquiries and compaints.
- StarShipIT feeds back the information (write-back) into the website which makes it all really easy.
- We are using the branded tracking and shipping notifications which are fantastic. With the SSI branded tracking pages and shipping notifications setup, it’s just so easy – customers can check in on their order status independently. This reduces the need to contact the customer service team and and subsequent time spent on customer enquiries.
Why did you choose to team up with Australia Post to ship your eCommerce orders?
Australia Post have a huge network in a very logistically challenged country. We are not a logistics business nor will we ever be so we want to partner with someone with good customer service and a provider customers trust and are used to. Our customer service is the focus for us so we want to give customers the best possible options.
Australia Post are becoming more innovative with services offered which is exciting for us going forward. Customers seem to be very happy with the price we charge (we subsidise shipping) and the speed. We offer options such as express shipping and priority shipping which is available when you are a VIP. As with all shipping we need to be quicker and cheaper and that is always something we are focused on.
It’s easy to track orders and we have an account manager we can talk to. For us that is so important. Small things like the delivery driver taking photos of delivering packages really helps trace that order door to door.
What’s in the future for Flora & Fauna?
This is our growing up year, focused on processes and building for scale. We’ve been busting at the seams in our warehouse so we have to move. We will have the room to continue to grow, better systems, better accuracy. This is what the next piece is all about.
We have also just relaunched our rewards programme last month, the Flora & Fauna Rewards Club. As a new customer, you get 10% off your first order, exclusive offers etc. The VIP membership status then enables the customer benefits that money can’t actually buy such as free express shipping with an over $100 spend and also priority shipping. If the customer is a VIP, their order will go out sooner than another non VIP customer and they receive early access to sales and beauty boxes. We are essentially rewarding our most loyal customers with great benefits and are all about delivering the best experience for a customer.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Firstly figure out who you are. Figure out who your brand is. What is different about what you are doing versus everybody else? Know what your values are. This then filters its way through how you talk to customers, your branding, content and your voice on social media.
My other piece of advice is that you have to work hard, you have to push and this is not a 5 day a week job. If you want a Monday to Friday job, then don’t do this. If you think starting a business is a lifestyle choice, it isn’t. For me right now, it’s 7 days a week, it’s all hours and you have to be prepared to throw everything at it. Many people think that their business isn’t working because they tried Facebook once and it didn’t work… you have to be persistent and resilient to be able to keep trying new things and be prepared to fail fast.
StarShipIT has dramatically improved our efficiency and it’s easy to use. That’s essential when you have a small team and we’re changing warehouse roles regularly. Support is also very good if there are issues so trade is not impacted for long. Julie Mathers, Founder
Flora & Fauna have won a number of awards and accolades over the past few years including GALA Best Online Retailer 2018 and Julie won Business Person of the Year at the GALA Awards in February this year. Want to know more about Julie or Flora & Fauna? Check them out at www.floraandfauna.com.au.
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