Online retailer Uncommon Goods is getting orders to customers faster than ever these days, thanks in large part to its partnership with third-party logistics service provider (3PL) ITS Logistics. A recent technology integration and new West Coast distribution solution mean that Uncommon Goods can distribute to 90% of the United States within two days—even during the busy holiday season, when the specialty retailer’s volume increases by more than 3,000%.
“Our customers come to us for our creatively designed, unique products, but we realized that we needed to be faster and increasingly efficient to remain competitive [with] other retail options,” Robert Carucci, head of operations at Uncommon Goods, said in a statement describing its four-year partnership with ITS Logistics. “We needed a custom solution to efficiently scale to adjust to the drastic seasonal swings of our business, especially for the holiday season peak.”
And that’s exactly what they’ve received from ITS, which has spent the past few years developing programs to reduce delivery time, boost inbound vendor efficiency, and handle those massive swings in demand.
The nature of Uncommon Goods’ business makes fulfillment a big challenge. The Brooklyn, New York-based company sells unique, artisan-crafted goods from around the world and has a large inventory of extremely seasonal, multisized items that dictate variable pick-and-pack requirements. In response, ITS developed a custom technology and pick-and-pack process that allows for the rapid training and deployment of resources to support those sharp increases in volume. The collaborative solution can be used across ITS Logistics’ and Uncommon Goods’ facilities.
“The foundation of these processes is controlled by a custom applications suite that we’ve built to leverage order-specific flows, allowing for optimal processing of single-unit and multi-unit orders with distinct physical handling flows,” said Ryan Martin, president of asset operations for ITS. “All flows utilize our custom waveless processing technology, allowing for real-time order flow within defined and optimized pick paths. The outbound order process is built to scale over 30 times the non-seasonal run rate, utilizing decoupled processes designed to support rapid and accurate training methods.”
Essentially, ITS has designed a flexible fulfillment process to meet the retailer’s unique and changing needs.
In addition, Uncommon Goods and ITS opened a West Coast DC in Reno, Nevada, to enable faster shipping nationwide—a challenge the retailer faced in shipping only from its Brooklyn DC. As a result, Uncommon Goods can now provide two-day shipping to customers in the contiguous 48 states. The project included a technology integration that sends customers immediate notifications on the status of their orders, from shipment through final delivery, and the establishment of a West Coast vendor shipment consolidation point for East Coast-bound products, reducing inbound transportation costs.
Those moves help alleviate stress across Uncommon Goods’ fulfillment network.
“Our partnership allows us to have a much shorter time in transit to our customers in the West, which improves [the] customer experience and lowers transportation costs,” Carucci said. “This also allows us to take some of the pressure of a very sharp holiday peak season off of our Brooklyn operation.”
The technology tools and infrastructure additions of the past few years are adding up for Uncommon Goods. The company saw a 49% increase in units shipped by ITS in 2022 compared with 2021, for one thing. Looking ahead, the companies plan to expand the fulfillment solution into the Indianapolis market and create even more cost-savings and productivity-enhancing projects overall, according to ITS.
“We continue to build out our custom solution to ensure that we can accommodate the increased volumes that [Uncommon Goods] is enjoying and so that we can continue to optimize the outbound handling process,” Martin said. “Beyond the buildout, we’re exploring deeper engagement in transportation cost optimization in 2023 and beyond.”