How Subo Products Reduced Shipping Time By 300% With Automation

By

September 8, 2021

81%

increase in average order processing speed

50%

decrease in both fulfillment time and labor

90%

reduction in errors

The Challenge

Feed kids in a fun and eco-conscious way while keeping up with increasing shipping orders.

The Solution

Implement ShipStation and Sendle to reduce labour costs while improving delivery speed and accuracy.

The idea for the Subo food bottle was one born from necessity. Husband and wife team Glen and Julie-Anne Mayer were busy raising their three young children. But they wanted a kids feeding product that would give them the convenience of pouch-style foods without the packaging waste or mess from overzealous squeezing.

Using pump bottle toothpaste packaging for their inspiration, they created their own reusable prototype. They took this prototype and launched Subo Products to the Australian market in 2016. Their Australian-made, non-squeezable and reusable feeding bottles are a no-mess approach to feeding kids. With Subo, food ends up in tummies instead of everywhere else. The patented technology means the bottles can be refilled over and over again. This means customers can avoid the need for single-use squeezable packaged foods.

Around the Packing Table

Over the next few years, the business would steadily grow, gaining significant momentum with the unexpected arrival of COVID-19. Selling directly to customers through their Shopify store, it was clear that getting fulfillment right was now the most important part of the business. Yet, fulfillment was the area they struggled with the most. On especially busy days, dispatch times could be impacted. 

Subo Products Operations Manager Jen Wales says the very manual process the Subo team were relying on to get customer orders out the door was costing the business time, money and accuracy in fulfilling customer orders. ‘It wasn’t sustainable. It took so much time. We also couldn’t double check so errors would sneak in, too,’ she said. 

‘There has to be a better way!’ is rhetoric that all businesses can relate to. But when it was bandied about the Subo packing table one night in August 2020, it was a sentiment the business took seriously. 

Within days of the packing table conversation, co-owner Glen was speaking with ShipStation and once the decision was made, “we were up and running in a day”. It was just as well. Two days later Victoria went into stage 4 restrictions and Subo would have its busiest year with more than 43,000 bottles sold. That’s three times more than the previous three years combined.

Small Things Make a Big Difference in Small Business

Since implementing ShipStation, Subo has seen an 81% increase in average order processing speed and a 90% reduction in errors. This has had a significant effect on the efficiency of the team and business. They have also seen a number of other benefits off the back of the integration that are making a difference at Subo. 

Customisable automation rules help Subo save time and keep order fulfillment flowing. For example, Sendle is set as their default carrier, but addresses with PO boxes and parcel lockers are automatically set to Australia Post. This saves the team time since they no longer need to check for these unique delivery addresses, manually change the carrier, or enter delivery information.

“Another really good feature is that we get alerts to combine orders when there are orders to the same address. Customers might place multiple orders through if they forget to add something. But the alerts mean we can easily identify and combine the orders, refund the shipping for the customer, and save ourselves time. We also provide the customer with a better experience in the process,” says Jen. 

Fewer Errors for Better Results

The Subo, ShipStation, and Sendle integration helps save time and delivery errors from occurring with address validation. Orders are imported from Subo’s Shopify store to ShipStation and then Sendle, where addresses are automatically checked. Sendle technology picks up any mistakes in the address before the item is sent.  

Product tags were another welcome administrative time saver. The ShipStation platform allows Subo to add tags to products. The team at Subo has been using this method to track samples they send to influencers. ‘It sounds small but it’s really useful in terms of keeping track of how many sample bottles we have sent out, we do the same with any products that might need a replacement part—there are fewer spreadsheets to maintain and we can easily pull a report for each of the tags at the end of the month and see where things are sitting,’ said Jen. 

The ShipStation integration between Shopify and Sendle has also given the team much greater visibility on order processing in general. “It’s really easy to look up and track where an order is at so we can respond to customer enquiries more efficiently,” she says. 

A Partner, not Just a Platform

The growth of Subo Products in the last 12 months has shown that ShipStation is the right partner for a business looking to scale. 

“I remember processing orders late one night and couldn’t print any more labels–I checked and could see we’d used our monthly allocation. With more labels to print, we simply upgraded our subscription to the next plan. We could continue processing the orders that very instant. ShipStation can grow in the moment with you,” says Jen. 

The team behind the technology have given Subo the confidence they have a partner and not just a platform. “Whenever we are looking for a more efficient way of approaching an aspect of fulfillment I send an email to customer service to see if the platform has a feature that we can utilise. They always have suggestions on ways we can get even more out of ShipStation. They will happily jump on a call to walk us through anything we need support with,” says Jen. 

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend in November is a key moment for online retail. This time saw the team at Subo face an unexpected problem that needed to be resolved quickly. “We emailed the customer service team who immediately jumped in and fixed things and said not to worry, they knew how busy the weekend would be for their customers so there was a team on call all weekend—if anything happened to contact them. It made me think, wow, that’s really cool they know what’s going on for our business,” said Jen. 

The Bottom Line 

Since implementing ShipStation in August 2020, Subo was able to decrease their manual labour needs. This in turn reduced labour costs and gave the team the opportunity to focus on growth.

Today, orders are imported from Shopify and through a number of customised automation tags the team set up themselves, allocated to the correct carriers. Labels are printed and products quickly packed and double-checked before they are sent to customers. This has seen Subo:

  • Increase their average order processing speed by 81%
  • Decrease fulfilment time & labour cost by more than 50% 
  • Decrease the number of errors by 90% which has also reduced the number of customer service enquiries
  • A 300% time saving on adjusting and checking order details with automation rules
  • Meet the demands of 250% growth in sales without a lag in dispatch.

What’s Next for Subo Products

Time is everything to a business. And, when you’re an ecommerce business, fulfillment makes up a big part of that. The implementation of ShipStation along with Sendle has seen some significant efficiencies for Subo Products. Now, owners Glen and Julie-Anne have the opportunity to work on the business, not just in it.

The time and resources they have saved on fulfillment are being channeled into business growth. 2021 will see a new product release along with a brand refresh, a focus on marketing, and a new factory and office space. 

Follow Subo Products on Instagram or check out their products at suboproducts.com.au. You can also start a free 30-day trial with ShipStation. 

81%

increase in average order processing speed

50%

decrease in both fulfillment time and labor

90%

reduction in errors