Bright Perspective Episode 5: Warehouse management WMS software grows The Daily Grace
Episode 5 of Bright Perspective kicks off a new series: The Supply Chain Diaries: WMS Edition, where we will be speaking with leaders in the supply chain about their warehouse management software (WMS) buying journey. Today's guest is The Daily Grace Co., an ecommerce seller of gospel-centered resources, to discuss the tremendous growth they have experienced as a result of implementing Deposco’s WMS software for ecommerce.
If you’re an ecommerce business, you know the agony of having 3X more orders than your WMS software can keep up with. In the beginning, your first reaction is to buy a minimum-viable WMS product that is cheap and affordable, and can essentially sustain your day-to-day warehouse operations.
But then, growth happens.
You quickly realize that all the manual work and inventory systems not talking to each other cause orders and pick lists to go missing. Shipping costs slip out of control. Inefficiencies in quality control, rate shopping, pick-pack-ship, and more prompt the need for something much more. Something offering a sophisticated level of WMS software solutions for ecommerce that offer modern automation, adaptability, and control.
That was the story of today’s guest, The Daily Grace Co., before they partnered with UPS and Deposco to consolidate into one robust WMS software solution for ecommerce fulfillment.
What is the ROI of WMS software for ecommerce
This episode walks through the WMS software behind their successes. Using Deposco, The Daily Grace Co. has unlocked modern warehouse management system functionalities, such as automated rate shopping, binning and scan validation.
These processes, in conjunction with a best-of-breed WMS software implementation team, have led The Daily Grace to a 6.5X increase in top-line revenue and 275% rise in daily orders fulfilled, with 99.97% order accuracy. Through significant time and resources savings, they are now able to expand to warehouses across the country, as well as fulfilling orders internationally.
Want to learn more about the ROI of their WMS software investment? Jump to The Daily Grace Co. success story.
Welcome to the Bright Perspective Podcast! I’m Carina Wingel and in this first episode of the series, I’m joined by Logan Brewer, Director of Warehouse and Logistics at The Daily Grace Co. Thanks so much for joining me today!
Hey, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for having us on.
I’m excited to dive into learning more about The Daily Grace Co. For those listening, tell us, who is The Daily Grace? What do you guys do?
The Daily Grace Co. is an ecommerce seller of gospel-centered resources. One of our unique qualities is creating products that are beautiful, theologically rich, and accessible to all people.
How did the business get started?
We have two founders, Kristin Schmucker and Jeremy Schmucker. They’re a married couple with 6 children, one of whom was a stillborn named Sophia. That experience is where our business originates.
Kristin was writing in her journal about what she was going through and was able to share some of that with other women in our area. Her thoughts in the journal inspired the creation of our first Study, as The Daily Grace Co. We’ve just grown immensely out of that one Study and through the life of Sophia.
Wow, what a beautiful way to come out of that situation and help others. Very inspiring.
You guys have been growing like crazy. When looking at warehouse management systems in the beginning, obviously the Company couldn’t ship out of a garage or house much longer with the growth it was experiencing. What key factors were you looking for in your warehouse management operations?
Back then, Jeremy and Kristin ran everything. They were looking first and foremost for a WMS that was cheap and affordable, and essentially sustainable day-to-day. They started out of their basement and eventually grew into what is now 2 warehouses – one that’s for overflow and one that is operational. In the beginning, a basic inventory system or two was all they thought they needed.
That’s where a lot of small businesses start, in the basement looking for a solution that can get them out of that space and into a warehouse. That’s an area I think a lot of people struggle with when starting an ecommerce business on marketplaces like Shopify.
Logan, when you came on board, what did inventory fulfillment look like in the systems you were using?
We started from the beginning with SkuVault and ShipStation, kind of a combined effort on that front, to fulfill our orders. That carried us until I started in 2020. It was sufficient at first, but then growth exploded and we had to come up with a solution for that.
What were some of those challenges that you were facing then?
There were a lot of manual tasks we had to do, which are now automated with Deposco, such as pick waves. We use a picking cart that has 20 bins on it. Each bin is an order. Now that we use Deposco, those 20 orders are allocated into a wave.
Before, we had to manually wave those, selecting 20 orders, going down and making sure that nobody was picking a duplicate wave. That happened several times, which was super frustrating because then we’d have to put product back.
Packing slips were placed in every bin. Deposco has allowed us to pick the bin, which has disregarded that whole process of placing packing slips and bins to communicate between SkuVault and ShipStation for our pickers to shippers.
Deposco’s WMS enabled us to automate an entire quality control role. Now, this task is placed into the shipper’s role to fulfill that. Deposco allowed us to put more of those people who were on that task into different positions – whether that’s more pickers, more shippers, or what have you.
Those are the kinds of day-to-day functions that we saw as challenges, but now we’ve been able to free up people for other things, thanks to warehouse automation functionalities of Deposco.
I know those manual tasks can take a lot of time. It seems to be a common issue that a lot of rapidly growing businesses eventually run into when they hit their max capacity. Was there an order limit, or maximum, where you would say that these manual processes really started to cause issues?
Yeah. One example that comes to mind was around Christmas of 2020. Our peak season is during the Advent launch in October and, like most ecommerce platforms, business explodes around then in preparation for the holiday season.
So in Christmas of 2020, we were seeing 8,000 to 9,000 orders enter the queue. At that point in time, we’d seen order fulfillment volumes of only 1,000 a day (if we were lucky).
Looking at that many orders in the queue, with that many customers to please, those orders just sat there for days – sometimes a week. It was really frustrating for our customers and for us.
We had people working overtime. I was working 60 to 70 hours a week as an hourly employee, which was insane. But it was the only way we could keep up with our volume.
It was absolute chaos just trying to use the processes that we had, and to plan. Obviously, our inventory fulfillment processes weren’t sustainable for growth.
You want to deliver faster. I understand that you guys had some issues connecting to and syncing inventory between Shopify and 2 other systems. Could you tell me more about that?
Sure. There were some issues between SkuVault, ShipStation, and Shopify all trying to work together. Deposco has helped us immensely by putting our picking and shipping under one umbrella.
Before then, we would have missing shipments, combined shipments, missing packing slips. Things like that. We were putting time and effort into places where we didn’t need to. I think a lot of it came from the manual quality control aspect. Now we’ve been able to disregard that whole role.
Our quality control task was to take all the products out of the bins that had been picked and recheck them to make sure the correct product was in the bins. There was no over-product or product that wasn’t there. I think the more people you get to touch your products before they go out the door, the more mistakes that are bound to happen.
We realized we had to fix the issue of SkuVault, ShipStation and Shopify not working well together. Shipments were going missing, or quality control was combining shipments, or we were losing the little packing slips.
There were also a lot of moving parts with the quality control process. We were trying to improve our accuracy; but at the end of the day, our accuracy was failing due to too many hands in the cookie jar.
Too many hands increases risk of human error, for sure.
In looking at a new system after that moment of, “Oh my gosh; we cannot go through another Christmas like this”, what were some of the factors that were important to you guys as a growing business?
Ultimately, we were just looking for simpler warehouse management processes that was going to make us more efficient.
The first thing we needed desperately was to automate rate shopping. All of our shippers were going through ShipStation, manually and checking the shipping rates of priority mail, First-Class, UPS Ground posts, what have you. They had to manually research the best option for every single package. With that kind of volume, getting an automated process would ultimately create much more business value there.
The second thing we were looking for was a process for our pickers to eliminate that quality control aspect of creating a better flow in our warehouse. SkuVault just didn’t offer those kinds of features and functionalities we needed.
We had ideas in mind of things we wanted and needed to implement, but the systems we had were not capable of supporting those ideas.
Sounds like that’s where The Daily Grace Co. really hits your limit. You’re looking up every order because, as a small business, you want to save on shipping the best you can for the customer, yet still provide the best experience.
And the time effort of having to rate shop manually… It sounds like you guys just hit those walls in a hurry. It was a new year, and a new time for assistance.
Yeah, for sure. We definitely hit a ceiling which we could not break through for a while.
During that process, where did you guys start looking for better WMS functionality?
The process for us was probably a lot different than many other companies. For us, we had a UPS warehouse engineer come into our facility to re-evaluate our processes. What looked good? What needed improvement? He made several suggestions.
One recommendation was to move away from SkuVault and ShipStation to Deposco, putting warehouse management under one umbrella. That’s how we heard about Deposco.
It was a super-simple buying process. We didn’t look at a lot of competitors; we were almost set on UPS’s recommendation. That was in June. Our conversation with Deposco started to take place in July, which was fairly quick.
So why were you able to depend on that UPS recommendation? What was your relationship with UPS like then, as a small business?
UPS has helped us immensely in a number of processes. They’ve set us up with different vendors to help us improve.
For example, we used to use packing peanuts, which was an absolute mess at the end of the day. Our customers loved it, but our shippers did not. Allowing us to move away from that and use sealed air pillows has helped our efficiency at ship stations.
Going through UPS’s recommendation of Deposco, how was that buying process for you?
We’ve had great relationships with our UPS representatives, who have guided us thoroughly, making sure we are being taken care of. That’s a huge piece of making this happen. Not only was Deposco going to be helping us, but UPS stepped in and, together, they made sure we were getting what we actually wanted.
Was the functionality going to be exceptional for us? Did we have room for growth? Our UPS representatives had seen where we’d been, packing-wise, and where we are going. Seeing the forecast, that they knew what we needed, and Deposco was that solution for us.
That totally makes sense. UPS is such a trusted partner for a lot of businesses. That’s really the first partner for many smaller businesses that are growing because you have to ship out your products.
Having gone through that buying process, what advice would you give to someone who’s going through the same thing now?
If you think your processes are stagnant and you cannot keep up with your growth, make the switch immediately.
That was one of our hindrances. We were trying to function on systems that were barely holding on for us. We’ve switched our mindset now from being reactive to proactive. That has really helped us in not just trying to fix the problems we already have, but looking ahead at problems we might see in the future.
Some of the upgrades that Deposco is giving us will really set us up. Maybe we don’t need those WMS capabilities right now, but making room for them early is going to help us in the future. When we do need them, we’re not scrambling in the moment for another solution.
And all that data, you get to keep as forward.
That’s exactly right. I will say that as a transition, it’s going to be difficult. However, after you’re 2 months into a Deposco implementation, you can totally look back and say, “Wow, this was well worth it”.
We’re so glad we made that transition. Even though you’re going to have bugs, you just got to roll with the punches because once you get through them, you will be very happy with your choice of Deposco.
How did implementation go for The Daily Grace Co.?
We did a full implementation from our starting conversation with Deposco to go-live in just 2 months, which is very quick. We had Advent season ahead, which is where peak season starts. Being able to get in about a month early allowed us to work out all the bugs and fixes before that season started.
Probably the biggest thing is mapping out what specifically your needs are to ensure the implementation goes smoothly.
What results have you seen since implementing Deposco?
There are numerous benefits that we can talk about. Shipping efficiency and accuracy has increased drastically for us since implementing Deposco. The more fluent systems keep it all under one umbrella.
The pick and ship functionality has gotten our fulfillment times down under 0.7 days this year. We are fulfilling orders in less than a day, which also allows us to put business rules in place specifically for shipping couriers, which we didn’t have before.
That goes into rate shopping as well, a functionality where Deposco has really helped us. If it’s under a pound, it’s going to this way; if it’s 1-2 pounds, it’s going this over 2 pounds, it’s XYZ. Putting those business rules in place has helped us immensely for faster delivery times.
We are sitting under 5 days, whereas before were at 7 or 8 days. Looking at couriers and knowing that we can utilize those as an option, but keeping them cheaper and offering the best transit time, are all crucial variables for our customers. They’re super satisfied with what what’s coming to their doors.
I think that’s the key to any small business owner: “How can I make my customers happier? How can I keep them coming back?” And, the supply chain, especially in this past year, has been very much at the forefront of that customer experience.
Amazon has made it where consumers ‘want it now’ or ‘want it in 2 days’. They expect it from a lot of small businesses, and that’s not something that every business can do. But it is becoming the new standard that everyone must meet.
Yeah, it is very difficult.
Another benefit we’ve seen since the Deposco implementation has been growth in our order fulfillment volume. Like I said before, we were sitting at 800 to 1,000 packages a day, and now we are comfortable shipping 2,000 to 2,500 a day during our peak season, with just a couple days of overtime.
For the first time ever, we actually shipped 3,000 packages in a day, which was a huge milestone for us. So if you look back at our numbers in 2021 and 2022, we’ve almost tripled our shipment throughput due to Deposco’s WMS making things more efficient and accurate.
And that’s with basically the same staff. Maybe one or two more. But it’s not like you guys doubled in staff. You just doubled order fulfillment!
So what’s next for The Daily Grace Co.?
At The Daily Grace Co., we are very quick to move. We like things done quickly. The best time to do something was yesterday. So we’re always looking for improvements.
Two of our core values are innovation and adaptability. We’re always looking for ways to improve our systems and make them better than they were the day before. With that comes adaptability. People have to look at the new WMS and say, “Hey, this is how we’re going to fit into that system”.
We’re always looking for improvements — one of which is having Deposco help us place some of our product in a 3PL in other countries. Right now, we’re specifically looking at the United Kingdom and Canada to get our international orders into those 2 regions, out to our customers quicker and cheaper as well.
We are also opening a second location in Houston, which will be our headquarters. That facility will hopefully be up and running into in 2 to 3 years. Jeremy, the founder is moving in this January.
We are super excited about what that holds down there and kind of having our own space. Our own warehouse. It’s going to be massive to roll out the new Deposco features that we are implementing here.
What are some of those features you’re looking at as you make that expansion?
Right now, we are in the middle of an upgrade to Deposco Bright Suite. We have lots of features that we and our reps are working hard to get implemented.
One is an Amazon integration. Deposco’s WMS software integrations pull in Amazon point-of-sale (POS) automatically. We have a workaround system with Deposco right now where we can fulfill those orders. Automating those functions will pool 3 or 4 people out of that job specifically as far as shippers go, but then it goes back to operations, pooling, NPOs, accepting POS, confirming them, making sure quantities are correct, etc.
Another feature in Amazon which we hope to accomplish is tracking that inventory. Kind of using another virtual facility. We are also going to start utilizing cartonization, which is going to allow shippers to grab a box that the computer tells them to, rather than saying, “Oh, it might fit in”.
It’s going to make pack-ship process even more efficient and simple. We’ve just implemented a first in first out (FIFO) feature for our products as well, which allows us to get out the older products, or products with publishing errors, first. We’re excited about those things.
Those are just a few things in the works right now, but we have tons on our change request form for Deposco to start working on. It’s super-exciting stuff that’s going to be great for our growth.
It sounds like you guys have a lot of plans and a lot of things going.
Absolutely always here at The Daily Grace Co.!
Thanks so much, Logan for joining me today. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and learning about Daily Grace. This is definitely a story to which a lot of small businesses can relate. I’m really excited for what’s in the future for you guys.
Absolutely. It’s always a privilege to share our success story, see where we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going, and be able to share that with others. Thank you for the opportunity and we hope that Deposco will continue to be a great partner for us!
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