If you have children, you've probably already encountered (perhaps on the floor, in the car, or scattered across your kitchen table) silly bands, the brightly colored plastic bracelets that come in a variety of fanciful shapes. They're the latest craze among school-aged children, who collect, wear, and trade them by the dozen.
Exploding demand for the bracelets has been a bonanza for suppliers, of course. But it has also created some headaches for the back end of their operations—like orders that are rolling in faster than suppliers can fill them.
That was the situation Stretchy Shapes was in. In less than six months, the Birmingham, Ala.-based startup's shipments went from zero to 3.6 million animal-shaped bracelets a week. With demand from customers like Nordstrom soaring, Stretchy Shapes realized it had to step up the pace of deliveries. Under the distribution process it was using at the time (which involved a traditional forwarding agent with multiple hand-offs), the journey from factories in Xiamen, China, to the company's Birmingham DC was averaging 8 to 12 days. And that was no longer cutting it.
To expedite orders, Stretchy Shapes turned to DHL Express for help. Now, DHL picks up the shipments at the factories, brings them to its hub in Hong Kong, clears U.S. Customs at its Cincinnati hub, and delivers the cartons to Stretchy Shapes in Birmingham—all in just two to three days.
Toy fads quickly come and go, but DHL undoubtedly is hoping this one will have staying power. It's a nice piece of business: DHL is Stretchy Shapes' exclusive international carrier, and it's now helping the young company expand into international markets.