We have amazing users who sell great products, and we love to tell the stories about their business and how they use ShipStation. Today’s user success story comes from Paleo Treats.
Nik Hawks, Owner
Paleo Treats came about back in 2009, before the Paleo diet/lifestyle was mainstream. How did you come to find the diet?
We found Paleo when a friend of ours temporarily moved in with us. He was really into Paleo and was (still is) a pretty intense dude. Rather than have separate meals or get too fussed about his diet vs our diet, my wife Lee & I decided to join him on Paleo. We loved it; felt better, looked better, lingering sniffles cleared up, sleep was deeper…the usual convert’s story. About two weeks into Paleo we realized there wasn’t a dessert available (fruits don’t count as dessert), so we decided to fill the gap and see if the three of us could make it a fun business.
We made about 2,000 in our tiny kitchen and took ’em up to the 2009 CrossFit Games, when they were still at The Ranch in Aromas. We figured we’d sell as many as we could, give a bunch away, and whatever was left over we’d bring back down to San Diego and sell to the local CrossFit gyms there. At the time, CrossFit was the only community (outside of fringe wilder-dudes) really following Paleo.
It was a 3 day event, and we sold out at 10 in the morning on the second day! That’s when we knew we had the potential for a great business, so we drove back down to San Diego and started working on logistics.
What challenges have you found shipping (frozen) food?
The big challenge was how to ship a product that by nature has no preservatives or stabilizers and is made primarily of ingredients that melt above 75F. That first season we sent everything in small uninsulated boxes and hoped for the best, but pretty soon we realized that wasn’t a great solution.
Over the years we’ve really refined how we ship. We now run an algorithm that takes into account days in transit, temperature zones the package pass through, temperature at the delivery location, how much dry ice the box will need, gel packs, and more. It can still get dicey in the middle of a summer heat wave, but we’re pretty close to 100% happy deliveries, which is definitely better than when we started.
The smaller challenge was how do we take shipping and make it beautiful? This is something that we feel is really overlooked. The idea that everything, not just the website or the product, should deliver value and create joy. We use custom printed boxes that cost about double what a plain box does, but they’re beautiful and funny and reflect who we are as a business. We use shipping tape we had custom made in Korea that costs way more than plain brown tape, but we get complements on the design all the time, and more importantly it allows us to meet our own high standard for beauty and quality. It’s not really enough to affect the end cost of the product, but it’s certainly not something we have to do. Our aim was to not cut corners even when it doesn’t count, to do the right thing always, and to make the world a better and more beautiful place than we found it.
I’m partial to the Bandito but is there a universal favorite? One that is a MUST try?
At the end of the day it’s what’s inside the box that drives people to buy it, and of our five products there are 2 crowd favorites; the Bandito, which is a chocolate covered almond butter cup, and the Mustang Bar, which tastes like a dessert cup version of your favorite granola bar. The other three (Cacao Now, Brownie Bomb, and Mac Attack) all have their own cult following. In fact, Lee made the Cacao Now for herself and she eats one every day. She doesn’t give a hoot if no one buys ’em, she’ll still have them made just so she can enjoy them.
How has ShipStation helped you with your business?
Now, none of the above matters if you can’t easily get your product to the customer, and ShipStation is the first line in that long logistical chain. We’ve used other shipping software and found that ShipStation addresses our pain points better than anything out there.
What’s your favorite ShipStation feature?
I don’t know if there’s one favorite part that we have; it’s the overall connectedness of everything that makes it so dang valuable to us. Tracking numbers, tagging packages with whether or not they need to ship on Monday only or are going to a VIP or need an extra Treat or two thrown in, doing a spot check on shipping prices; everything is easy enough that we can focus on getting things done, and not on HOW they need to be done.
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