ShipBob CEO Says D2C Differentiation Must Extend to Fulfillment


Getting a shipment from a small eCommerce merchant or direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand should feel different than receiving a package from Amazon, according to ShipBob CEO Dhruv Saxena. Because the consumer has likely bought directly from the brand’s website, the goal should be that “the customer feels like this box was packaged exclusively for them,” he said.

In a recent conversation with PYMNTS, Saxena said D2C brands should think of fulfillment “as being an extension of the values that they are trying to convey to the customer … and the user experience, because the customer is really picking on this brand from all the different options that they potentially could have looked on Amazon for.”

Unlike third-party sellers on Amazon and Walmart, D2C brands aren’t competing on price but on being a better product and company that resonates with the consumer and convinces them to perhaps pay a premium for merchandise.

“When you try to differentiate not on price but on all the different elements of how you build a great brand, you have to think through the full funnel of the customer’s journey, from the time they land on my website all the way down to when they actually use my product,” Saxena said.

Last week, ShipBob released a new set of customization features for merchants, including the ability to use custom boxes, custom sender names on shipping labels and gift notes. Earlier this year, the company also raised $200 million in Series E funding to accelerate its growth and capture rapidly rising remand.

Read more: ShipBob Expands Platform Ahead of Holiday Shopping

“What we want to do is enable these brands to really project out their brand values and what they stand for throughout the packaging and throughout the fulfillment experience,” Saxena said, noting that ShipBob is “super aggressive in figuring out how can we push the boundaries of making sure that fulfillment becomes as customized as it can be.”

Up Against Amazon

In the past several months, retail behemoths Amazon and Walmart have both ramped up their third-party logistics offerings in an attempt to provide their years of expertise to rival merchants. Amazon has been pushing its Multi-Channel Fulfillment product for merchants on Shopify, Etsy and other marketplaces, as well as shipping outside cargo in order to compete with UPS and FedEx; and Walmart last month launched a new white label, last-mile delivery service called Walmart GoLocal just weeks after it said it would begin licensing its eCommerce and fulfillment technology to merchants and brands.

See: Walmart Launches GoLocal Last-Mile Delivery For Other Retailers

Saxena told PYMNTS, though, that ShipBob isn’t worried about competition from big retailers. The merchants the company works with, he said, “find value in building direct relationships with consumers” and therefore are unlikely to jump ship given what ShipBob offers. The CEO added that D2C brands also don’t want any orders to be fulfilled through Amazon or Walmart for fear of getting lost in the shuffle.

“They are getting access to two-day fulfillment across the country, but also getting a chance to customize the fulfillment experience so that the customer realizes that the box is actually personalized to the brand that they order from,” Saxena said. “Our focus on direct-to-consumer brands offers a way different solution set.”

Prepping for Peak Season

ShipBob has already begun hiring at its fulfillment centers ahead of the holiday season, with Saxena noting that he expects “a very unique peak season” because of continued inventory and supply chain challenges on top of labor shortages.

“All of the employee shortages that we are seeing on the hourly side in restaurants and bars, that trickles into fulfillment centers,” Saxena said, prompting ShipBob to offer signing bonuses, overtime and guaranteed work for those who choose to start now instead of waiting for holiday shopping to pick up.

For individuals brands who run their own fulfillment centers, Saxena predicted that “it will be very hard … to plan so well compared to companies like our who are really pulling out all the stops to make sure that we staff up for the peak season.”

ShipBob has yet to run into trouble finding enough labor, the CEO noted, though Walmart and Amazon are tapping into the same talent pool to recruit tens of thousands of supply chain workers in the coming weeks and months. Saxena said that’s one reason for hiring early and providing good training to workers. “They feel part of the business come peak season,” he said.

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