From Reaching a Growth Ceiling to a 200% Uptick in Sales and Scalability
As an ecommerce entrepreneur, there’s no greater satisfaction than knowing your products will arrive at your customers’ doorstep within 24 hours of them clicking “purchase.”
It took Cycology almost two years to reach that point.
During Cycology’s inception, Michael and his wife spent countless hours creating unique clothing to make cyclists feel stylish on the road. Their hard work started to pay off within a year, organically reaching a small tribe of dedicated cyclists who would swear by their product. The excitement of the entrepreneurial journey kicked in. They were joyfully taking in multiple orders a day and making daily trips to the post office to fulfil orders.
Then things got serious.
Harnessing on some smart social media strategies in their second year, their community of loyal customers grew rapidly. Their designs gained so much popularity and became the fashion of choice for serious, trendy cyclists around Australia, even starting to tap into the global market.
Suddenly they were taking in more orders than they could fulfil in a single day, and the daily trips to the post office became daunting. Quickly they had to establish their own warehouse and started employing staff.
Here they were, forced to learn the craft of running a logistics facility on the go.
Fulfilling a few hundred orders in a year compared to the intensity of up to 100 orders a day was drastically different for Michael and his wife. Sales were great but they knew the longevity of their business hinged on quick turnaround on shipping – the deciding factor between happy customers or nasty online reviews.
They thought by having their own warehouse and staff, fulfilment would take care of itself. It took only a few months for that belief to be proven wrong.
“Our warehouse was never the right size,” Michael says.
The days of multiple trips to the post office behind them, Michael was now facing the realities of learning how to manage logistics on the fly. It was a minefield.
Cycology was occasionally taking in 100 – 200 orders a day, but the amount of stock on hand was constantly fluctuating. On Monday, they wouldn’t have enough room for all of their stock however by Friday the empty warehouse appeared to be a wasteland. All while the owners stressed constantly over incoming orders.
“The warehouse was either too big or too small as shipments moved.”, Michael concluded.
Regardless of stock level, the orders still had to be fulfilled. Customers had paid and they simply expected their product ASAP. Period.
The inconsistency in stock management was creating detrimental inconsistencies in fulfilment. As a result, Cycology never had a solid answer to the frequently asked question: “when is my product going to arrive?”.
With one full-time warehouse employee and a dozen casual workers, Michael was still labouring every day in the warehouse – surrounded by boxes, labels and repetitive manual handling. During the holiday seasons, when orders would jump to 200 plus a day, family and friends had to chip in. It was very ad hoc, scrappy, and unscalable.
Michael realised they had reached a ceiling for growth and needed change, especially when they started selling into the US and UK and discovered the world of outsourced logistics. All of a sudden, it made total sense to do the same in Australia.
Just because they were on home turf, they didn’t need to do everything themselves.
Because of how closely-knit the cycling community is, any over-promise-under-deliver brands will surely get a bad reputation in no time. Cycology didn’t want any piece of that. They had to get their fulfilment 100% locked in to allow them to scale as needed.
The husband and wife team finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. At last, they were able to shift their focus from boxing orders and warehouse management back to the heart of the business: designing amazing outfits for the cycling community.
Learning from the experience of working with logistics partners overseas, Michael knew that the process could be very simple. Regardless of how many orders they get on a given day, be it 50 or 500, they no longer had to give a second thought to stock levels and physical handling. A 3PL has the capacity to handle any fluctuation in their sales cycle without adding onto overhead costs and time.
And when they made a shortlist of several 3PL companies in Sydney, Invenco stood out as the favourite.
“I found Invenco to be exceptional,” says Michael.
Dealing directly with Invenco’s executives gave Cycology a personal touch and unmatched confidence that they have found a partner to scale their ecommerce business. With Invenco’s 5500 square metre warehouse facility, a large team of logistic professionals, cutting edge technology, and rigorous standards, Cycology felt the growth ceiling had suddenly opened up.
Since Cycolgoy already met Invenco’s minimum standard of 100 orders a week, the two companies were able to partner up immediately. Invenco’s quick results and day-to-day service to Cycology have been first class. Michael can tell that Invenco operates on an entirely different level compared to his overseas 3PL’s
“Dealing with the UK and USA I rate Invenco above the rest – and I am not just saying that. They are just world class.”
Invenco’s facility and staff are able to handle Cycology’s weekly order volume and have created consistency in the turnaround times. Now Cycology is able to guarantee a 48-hour turnaround on orders, which means it’s often faster. That’s without considering the number of daily orders incoming!
As a result, Michael and his wife are now able to launch more innovative designs with a bullet-proof backend resilience.
That certainly proved to be the case in 2020.
In a year where many companies have crumbled, Invenco quickly responded to the COVID-19 crisis with special fulfilment measures and continued to set small businesses like Cycology up for success.
Like many entrepreneurs during the global pandemic, Michael was fearful at first, worrying about how the shipping inconsistency globally would impact Cycology.
“When COVID hit in March, we got hit along with everybody. We got scared, we didn’t know if logistics could keep going. And the reality for a small business like us is if logistics shut down, we shut down.”
The pandemic was certainly having a huge impact on ecommerce businesses because of an overall decrease in discretionary spending, coupled with some customers’ confidence level around product delivery. A lot of ecommerce operations were put on hold or had to shut down entirely because they couldn’t maintain stock levels to deliver goods on time.
Michael was reassured immediately by the speed of Invenco’s response to the pandemic: a comprehensive COVID plan which included appropriate alterations to staffing numbers and shift times, as well as check-in and temperature-checking procedures. Everything was in place for a seamless continuation of operation within a month of the first signs of the pandemic. Invenco even had contingency plans in place for other potential scenarios.
When it looked like Cycology’s US warehouse might have to close for a period, Invenco was able to integrate with his US cart in preparation for that possibility. Thankfully, Michael didn’t need to trigger the change, as his US warehouse remained open, but it was a huge relief to know that Invenco could handle that issue had it come to pass.
“Invenco quickly put in place their own COVID plans, they added the resource and did absolutely everything they could internally to give themselves the greatest chance of operating.”
Marry that with a global boost of people picking up cycling as a hobby and an uptick in online spending, Michael and his wife couldn’t be happier. In 7 months during COVID, Cycology experienced a 200% uptick in revenue. Imagine having to fulfil all these unexpected orders all by themselves!
“The uplift we’ve experienced in the last few months has been amazing. And we are certainly grateful that we’ve braced ourselves with Invenco before this crisis. If we had to do that ourselves, there is no way we could have scaled to that degree!”
COVID or not, Cycology is set to continue thriving with their 48-hour fulfilment guarantee. While no-one could have anticipated the bumpy ride the world has been on in this, their fourth year with Invenvo, this dynamic business has a virtually unlimited capacity to innovate and scale.
If you want the same scalability and growth Cycology has experienced, get a free quote from Invenco today. With our combined expertise in logistics, large facility and capacity, we look forward to partnering with your ecommerce business to deliver you happy customers, and fuel to fast track your growth and success!