Summer is just around the corner. What are you planning to do with it? Do you have a vacation scheduled?
For many executives – especially if their title includes the words ‘e-commerce’ or ‘operations’ – the answer is often no. If their role takes them anywhere near a supply chain, they’ve got to be on call around the clock. Go on a tropical getaway? Not if it’s out of cell phone range. Attend a backyard birthday party? Only if they can check their email. The last time they got to enjoy a summer Friday or a long weekend (without having to put out a fire) was probably during their entry-level years.
We get it. But we also think it’s time for that to change. Just because your supply chain doesn’t take a break doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to.
Take it from UBTech, a new AI and humanoid robotics company. UBTech creates robots for classrooms, recreation, or even sanitation purposes. Some of their products teach students how to build and program robots. Others can disinfect a large room in three minutes, utilizing a UV light.
Engaging young minds and removing harmful bacteria are causes that we can get behind, but this work didn’t come without headaches. In particular, managing the logistics was a challenge.
You see, UBTech is a global company with a major presence in most of the world. But they’re just now expanding into North America, which means that scaling is a top priority.
In addition to the usual growing pains, UBTech creates a highly technical product, which comes with its own set of concerns. As one might imagine, robots have some pretty specific storage and shipping requirements, so it’s important to find a partner who is ready to take on the challenge. UBTech learned this the hard way when, after contracting with another 3PL, they still spent far too much time tracking orders and chasing down service representatives.
“The challenge was that we needed to find a 3PL that could handle the growth of our company, and allot the space to it. A logistics provider would have to have the abilities to cover everything that goes on with retail and the challenges that come with that,” explains John Dunkel, operations manager at UBTech.
That combination of traits – experience with retail and the means to grow with a company was not easy to come by. Several prospective providers turned UBTech down, either because they did not feel prepared to store their product or because they simply wanted a larger client.
The company needed a unicorn 3PL that had the know-how and willingness to store a high-value item, and that wouldn’t kill the bottom line with exorbitant minimum billing charges. WSI turned out to be just the ticket. By utilizing a model based on the number of pallets used (instead of a minimum service level) we were able to deliver the service UBTech needed in a way that is accessible for a startup.
“WSI has a different approach that I haven’t seen very often, which is that you make a space commitment,” says Dunkel. “We made a commitment based on the number of pallets of storage that we would likely maintain between our retail, education, and enterprise businesses. The fact that WSI was willing to look at it from a space allocation side I’m sure is what’s bringing a lot of customers that ship to retail to their door.”
He’s onto us. Our business model is what allows us to eschew high monthly minimums and maintain the flexibility to work with retail clients that might get edged out of other business models.
Working with WSI meant that UBTech could finally get the support that it needed in several areas. For one thing, we know our high-value retail storage. Complicated or expensive products (like robots) don’t make us blink. Our system for handling shipments and quick response times didn’t go unnoticed, either.
“I can send an order over in the morning, and it will ship in the afternoon. The system that WSI has is that the driver provides an e-signature, and that signed attachment automatically gets emailed to my assistant and myself. It all happens on the same day. My sales people are amazed,” says Dunkel.
Streamlining operations is all in a day’s work for us. But even beyond technical acumen, UBTech found a partner who’s in it for the long haul. Plenty of 3PLs are happy to charge a service fee, but not everyone is invested in helping a new business succeed. But that’s exactly what we love most – helping a small enterprise grow into a large one.
The end result is that our friends at UBTech have a lot less to worry about, at least on the logistics side of their business. Gone are the days of chasing after a Bill of Lading or trying to educate a business representative who is unfamiliar with the lingo. We’ve got that covered. It’s given them time to focus on building new robots. Or maybe even take a few trips this summer.
You deserve a vacation too. Give us a call to find out how we can keep your products moving reliably through the supply chain this summer. Then grab a drink with an umbrella in it, head to the pool, and enjoy some time off!