F4E Case Study
Entering the Dynamic World of Influencer Marketing
Jezz Skelton the Founder Owner of his young company, Abbott Lyon, first visited Clientbase Fulfilment in October 2016.
He shared his vision of how he was planning to grow his enterprise over the following five years into one of the top global players in the Influencer Marketing sector. Abbott Lyon had already grown dynamically from a standing start to sales value in excess of seven-figures through being an early adopter of Influencer Marketing, primarily through Instagram combined with judicious use of other social media platforms. The core product offering was a range of reasonably-priced, high quality, attractive dress-watches principally marketed to ladies, at a price point of £100.00.
The Evolutionary Journey from Standard Pick/Pack through to a Unique Innovative Bespoke Fulfilment Solution
Jezz explained that he was selling to his own peer-group, who he instinctively understood, being one of them himself. This new generation spend substantial time within their on-line community, and collectively follow Influencers. His Abbot Lyon marketing needed to portray a fresh high-quality image supported by compelling product range, while delivering outstanding service quality. This new generation of consumers primarily buy through hand-held devices, expect instant response, next day delivery and full on-line visibility of their order: The presentation of their order as it arrived on their doorstep needed to replicate the standard pioneered by Apple: Smart, crisp, clean and well-engineered.
Jezz was aware that Abbott Lyon’s limited in-house fulfilment capacity and Customer Service support would restrict Abbott Lyon’s growth potential in the following twelve months. His personal focus and financial investment had to stay concentrated on the marketing, product design, website functionality, deal-making with the Influencer’s agents and securing production from reliable factories in China.
The growing demands of handling the Fulfilment with its related Customer Service support appeared the one core capability that opened itself up to be out-sourced.
The challenges of partnering with this young entrepreneur were instantly attractive to the senior management team at F$E in the UK. The entrepreneurial spirit, high expectations and fast-changing service demands appealed to the core values of F4E.
The rational point of out-sourcing Fulfilment and Customer Services arrived during the summer 2017, coinciding with a planned lull in sales while Abbot Lyon waited for their revised and improved product range from their new Chinese manufacturer.
The following Case Study chronicles how this exciting new partnership between Abbott Lyon and F4E UK evolved and grew in directions that were never anticipated when we first commenced fulfilment services in October 2017, exactly one year after we first met.
Structure of this case study:
A loose chronology detailing Abbott Lyon’s ever-changing requirement as they adapted their offering to meet the fast-evolving Influencer Marketplace over the past twelve months: Oct 2017 to Oct 2018.
It is only when we look back over the past year that we realise how far and fast our partnership has developed as both Parties remain determined to set-the-pace. Abbot Lyon’s competitors are forever copying their trend-setting offerings: F4E has to deliver the flexibility in process to deliver the promise and enable Abbot Lyon to stay ahead of their competitors.
The Opening Brief (Oct 2017):
- Integrate AL’s Shopify with CB’s Elucid home-shopping software through Duoplane
- Integrate Elucid with ‘Sage 50’
- Secure remote access to AL’s head office in Bath
- Elucid on-site training in Bath
- Provide fully functional fulfilment service, including returns and carrier selection.
- Contact Centre: Customer Service support for calls and e-mails
- Product Range: 30 watch SKUs, received ready-packed with Bar Codes in presentation boxes, despatched in padded envelopes.
- Predictions 200 units a day
All very standard...
The Evolving and Expanding Fulfilment Brief (Oct 2017–Oct 2018)
...proved to be far from standard:
- Costume jewellery (bracelets, rings, bangles) added to the SKU range
- Trade Fulfilment requiring re-work, re barcoding etc for High Street chains (TK Maxx, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Top Shop)
- Engraving/personalisation test for watches
- Engraving/personalisation roll-out for watches
- Test Germany
- Gift Wrapping offered across the full range
- Extend engraving to costume jewellery
- Laze Leisurewear added as a complete new set of SKUs
- Range of clutch and shoulder handbags introduced
- Embossing/personalisation on the hand bags
- Leather goods range introduced
- Embossing/personalisation on leather goods
- German roll-out, followed by testing other overseas markets including the mighty US.
- Abbot Lyon Clothing range launched in addition to extended Laze range
- Flocking/personalisation test for Laze Wear
The predicted sales volumes increased by a multiple of 5 with predicted peak days reaching 6,000 + orders in a day.
It became clear from the first month of the Abbott Lyon/F4E relationship that having made the decision to out-source his fulfilment, it enabled Jezz the opportunity to start offering personalisation and the ability to test new product ranges at short notice.
Therefore outsourcing brought immediate Commercial advantage.
The uptake of engraving watches soon reached 30%: The introduction of the handbag range proved highly successful enhanced by handbag-embossing reaching 85%: Both AOV and margin improved significantly with personalisation charged at £10.00 and costing £2.00.
The Innovative Solution:
The challenge for F4E was how to manage the combination of the demand in growth with the vastly increased SKU range, while developing the skill-set required by the three forms of personalisation and at the same time ensuring accuracy and output-per-hour.
F4E in the UK managed this state of continuous change through three teams working in harmony under the overall guidance of Pete Whyard, our Head of Ops, managed through his Project Management software and disciplines;
The first fundamental decision was to split personalised and non-personalised into separate print and production runs.
IT team: Elucid was adapted for Personalisation functionality. The continuous IT enhancements were handled by Colleen our Elucid specialist, while the first Gravograph engraving machine was connected into the CB network.
Non-personalised orders are managed through our standard processes under the control of a senior supervisor: Streamlined through a complex print routine ensuring that priority Next Day Delivery orders always bump to the front of the production queue.
Our personalisation team was placed under the guidance of Garry Taylor, our Specialist Project/Account Manager, who has worked in harmony with Pete Whyard on challenging projects for more than a decade. Garry employs the disciplines of ‘Test & Learn’: Once a solution has been crafted, Garry writes a detailed but practical training manual.
An example of the patience required to perfect this process is the personalisation of handbags using Rose Gold foil. It is a fine example of Garry’s determination and the slightly curved-balls the F4E team enjoy resolving. The uber-popular Rose Gold embossing for the lighter-coloured handbags, which have ‘scale-effect’ surface, proved to be a nightmare. Garry called on the expertise of both the Gravograph team and the foil suppliers as well as the support of the Abbot Lyon management. After a few days of continual experimentation, and the destruction of a few sacrificial handbags, that perfect combination of foil-shade, embossing-face-temperature, lever-pressure and time-of-hold was reached. Once the formula was cracked and the training manual written, what had been a seemingly unsurmountable problem became a standard task.
F4E delivers above the agreed SLA while honouring our pricing matrix. But in addition we have hopefully helped Abbott Lyon increase their margins significantly through the efficient and cost-effective introduction of personalisation. In addition Abbott Lyon has also reduced their packet cost for overseas significantly through the F4E carrier contracts with both DHL and DPD. These two element alone will have added in excess of £100K per annum to their top line margin.
The more difficult elements to place an accurate figure on are the ‘opportunity gains’ in being able to bring new product to market quickly, and with minimal inconvenience to Abbott Lyon, combined with their opportunity to test product. F4E also delivered highly effective QA for new lines, especially clothing at no additional cost as part of the strict goods-in process.
Outsourcing also delivers the ability, through our partnership, to manage peaks in demand at a set unit cost, as well as offering extended hours for Customer Service, again at a pre-agreed budgeted fixed cost per contact.
It is difficult in F4E’s specialist arena of ’Third Party Fulfilment combined with Customer Service’ to highlight a single ‘Hero Innovation’. Our skill is the deliver a variety of Innovative solutions to numerous challenges as they arise: Innovations that have to be commercially viable. F4E has not charged Abbott Lyon a single extra penny following the initial set-up fees:
The host of Technology tweaks and process adaptations have been delivered through our in-house expertise with the aim of supporting this outstanding client: As they grow at considerable speed, so do our fees.
Abbott Lyon is our most exciting young client, who is demanding but fair. By stretching us, they making us a better and more skilful business. We always learn new innovations from each new client, which brings us satisfaction and vibrancy to our team. We are about to update our web site to include a sector highlighting our new specialist personalisation skills across engraving, embossing and flocking.
The hidden advantage for Jezz Skelton is that he is set free to concentrate keeping ahead of his competition in this incredibly dynamic environment of Influencer Marketing.
Everyone a winner.