The ShipTo Story
Amid an urgent need for outsourced shipping services, Simon Cote found a way to help struggling businesses survive a pandemic.
Cote is President of Canada-based Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider, ShipTo Partners. But while outsourced logistics are commonplace in the United States, it’s a new concept to Canadian retailers. Cote knew the key to survival for many sellers was clear: let experts like ShipTo Partners handle the logistics while the business focuses on growth.
“We had to get out there and really talk about what we were doing, the fulfillment business and how we could help people just fulfill their orders and really focus on what they do best,” said Cote. “Focus on selling, and we’ll ship your stuff.”
Armed with a 2,000 square foot warehouse and a handful of new clients, the challenge for Cote became spreading the 3PL news and helping companies streamline their logisics.
The ShipTo Partners team started their business without any software. No IMS. No accounting. Nothing. This left them a blank slate to choose any solution, but the absence of any technology caught up quickly.
Their shipping needs were as diverse as the products, with some needing local deliveries and others needing national and international shipping. Clients’ sales came in from websites, marketplaces, brick and mortar, and elsewhere.
For example, one client brought in upwards of 400 SKUs, while another sold products with 600 color variations and multiple sales channels.
Because they weren’t managing or tracking their inventory initially, the ShipTo team relied on what they thought they had in stock.
Inventory quantities didn’t always add up. Local sales quantities, for example, didn’t match inventory in the warehouse because they simply didn’t have the visibility. As a result, picking a small number of orders would take too long.
What’s more, clients couldn’t find a way to view inventory quantities for each channel in one place. And he didn’t know how to show them that information either—sometimes resorting to manually logging into each client’s sales channel portals to view inventory quantity.
Cote knew technology could bring transparency to his business, but the idea of implementation seemed daunting. Surely a process for a bigger company, but not a new, small 3PL business with only a handful of clients.
The lack of inventory visibility and a pileup of misinformation said otherwise.
Four months into business and it was time to find an inventory management software, and fast.
Cote needed software that provided inventory tracking and visibility for every business that utilized his 3PL warehouse space and services.
After a thorough search, ShipTo Partners implemented SkuVault inventory management software.In consultation with the SkuVault team, ShipTo implemented Wave Picking to reduce pick times, Kitting, and advanced Quality Control to cut mis-ships and mis-picks..
The customization of the Wave Picking feature allowed him to customize pick lists and routes for each client, depending on their needs. This paved the way for better accuracy and decreased pick times.
Similarly, the Quality Control process made their process error-free.
“Now our largest risk of error is literally customers not labeling their stock correctly. The risk of error is outside of our work,” he said. “I will still think, ‘You mislabeled this, I have to take it out.’ But because the print barcodes are right there in SkuVault, it’s no problem to print it out, put them on, and be finished in 10 seconds without realizing.”
3PL companies provide their clients with access to outsourced warehouse space, staffing, and logistics services. To keep client billing separate and correct, a robust suite of reports was needed. Cote said he uses SkuVault’s Transaction Report heavily for invoicing and other automated exports to charge clients based on how they utilize his warehouse space.
“Because we ship per order, we bill per order, and per pick, I need a report that tells me every pick I did for every company,” Cote said. “Beforehand there was a lot more number-crunching to be able to do that. Now I have zero work to do. At the end of the month, I compile it and say, ‘Alright, you used x number of cubic feet each day,’ and I add it up.”
With a centralized home for inventory reports available in SkuVault, ShipTo Partners often have more visibility into the client’s multi-channel sales than the client. The ability to gather this kind of information in one place is an added selling bonus to working with his business.
“A client that has an Amazon, a Shopify, and an Etsy cannot see a single sales report. There’s no way to just pull those three reports and make it work, especially since Amazon has different SKU numbers,” he said. “But now I can see a column with Amazon, a column with Etsy, and a column with Shopify with the number of sales they did. They’re asking us for these reports now.”
The Growth Results
Peace of mind is priceless.
With the help of SkuVault, the ShipTo Partners team quickly outgrew their small warehouse and now operate inside an 8,500 sq. ft. space. Now they can focus on picking and packing products, knowing it’s all scanned in accurately and automatically. As a result, clients no longer worry about their inventory.
Cote and his team are empowered with accurate inventory data to help their clients grow and make forecasting decisions in ways they couldn’t see before.
“Forecasting is huge, and they never had any visibility in this,” he said. “So it’s very exciting to see the discovery of, ‘Oh, I can do more now.’”
SkuVault’s powerful inventory management and tracking capabilities touch every part of the warehouse. So when Cote has questions about features that might win a new client,,SkuVault’s Customer Success team is there to answer his questions quickly.
“An air conditioning company with a website was about to pick a 3PL, and they had a question about the kits, and at that time, I didn’t use the kits yet,” he said. “So I reached out to the customer service and said, ‘I need this answer right now because I’m about to sign a client that needs that feature, and I need you to explain it to me.’ Within the hour, they showed me how the kits would work and all that.”
In fact, he said each person throughout the SkuVault sales and onboarding process has been fantastic to work with, from sales to tech support.
As the 3PL sector continues to grow in Canada, the sky’s the limit. For 3PL companies looking to implement an IMS, Cote said SkuVault is the solution they need for fast implementation and unlimited opportunity.
“I know they [3PL companies] could be set up with SkuVault and be operational within a couple weeks with a really reasonable cost,” he said. “There’s no limits on how many SKUs or how many platforms. It’s really scalable and it just works great and people understand.”