ChannelApe Swoops in to Provide Birdies Supply Chain With Flexibility
Longtime friends Marisa Sharkey and Bianca Gates wanted “unicorn footwear” — a slipper that was both comfortable and stylish. They figured other women might want the same thing, so they created Birdies slippers and started selling them. Then something unexpected happened: Customers loved Birdies so much that they were wearing them everywhere.
“We very quickly made some product improvements, so the shoes would be even better for outside, everyday wear,” Sharkey says. Birdies combine the “support of a sneaker with the softness of a slipper and the style of a designer flat.”
Sharkey and Gates never expected their company to become a wunderkind of the shoe business, but that’s precisely what happened, practically from the day the company was launched in 2015.
“In the earliest days, we were shipping the shoes ourselves from our garage,” Sharkey says. “That got very time- and space-consuming. We started working with a 3PL and moved on to bigger 3PLs as we grew. And at some point, we realized we needed more control over our own logistics — we didn’t want to be dependent on just one 3PL and their technology. We were looking for someone who could help us scale to more than one warehouse with one or more 3PLs, and who could help us route the orders to the right place with an easy technology and with flexibility to adjust over time.”
Birdies found just what they were looking for in ChannelApe.
“ChannelApe gives us the flexibility we didn’t have before.”
Moving product to a new building is fairly simple, but programming fulfillment rules, understanding SOPs and figuring out the technological handshake can get very complicated. ChannelApe makes warehouse integrations seamless — in about a third of the time of an average move.
“We were not able to use two warehouses before, and now we are, because ChannelApe routes the orders,” Sharkey says. “We happen to be using two warehouses with one 3PL, but we could easily use ChannelApe to add a different 3PL. It makes us less dependent on where our inventory happens to be today, because we always have the option to put inventory somewhere else and have ChannelApe add that location — without disturbing any of the current relationships we have. ChannelApe gives us the flexibility we didn’t have before.”
“Our warehouse and shipping partner is a terrific 3PL called Quiet Logistics. ChannelApe provides the connection between our orders and Quiet, with the technology that tells an order to go to one warehouse or the other.”
In addition to giving Birdies the ability to expand and ship from multiple locations, ChannelApe technology currently provides accurate, real-time visibility into their inventory sitting in multiple warehouses, stores and any physical locations, and it manages preorders to maximize the sales and fulfillment processes.
“ChannelApe allows me to have a hands-off approach and see a larger picture.”
Many small and medium-size brands rely on piecemeal inventory and fulfillment systems — including spreadsheets, shopping apps and physical warehouse tracking. The configurable ChannelApe platform enables Birdies to manage the entire fulfillment lifecycle and provides complete visibility into that process. It gives the growing business a single point of truth as to what their real inventory is, wherever it is, at all times.
“If a company doesn’t know its actual inventory at any given point in time, it will oversell, which then leads to unnecessary customer service–team work, unhappy customers and, ultimately, brand degradation,” says ChannelApe adviser Evan Cagner. “Birdies was looking for brand enhancement, and that is exactly what ChannelApe continues to deliver.”
“ChannelApe allows me to have a hands-off approach and see a larger picture,” says Kalina Joffray, Birdies’ operations associate. “The reporting system has given us visibility into inventory that we share with our team and our partners. Plus, they do a great job in raising any problem orders to us, rather than me having to look through every single order that flows through our system to find issues.”
“We’re really excited to have ChannelApe’s preorder capabilities.”
Generally, warehouses can do a great job of shipping what they have on the shelf. But if a brand sends a warehouse an order for something they don’t have — such as a backordered or preordered item — it becomes more difficult to handle.
ChannelApe manages the rules for backorders and preorders, which allows a brand to control that order before it gets to the warehouse. Through the ChannelApe platform, the only things the brand sends to the warehouse are orders they can always fulfill, ensuring successful fulfillment on the part of the warehouse — and in the eyes of the customer.
“Previously, we had a very manual pre-order process,” Joffray says. “We’re really excited to have ChannelApe’s preorder capabilities, because it takes a lot of the manual processes we’ve been using and turns them into a properly flowing process.”
“ChannelApe is providing us with scalable solutions.”
“Ultimately, ChannelApe is helping us scale,” Sharkey says. “They help us handle having more than one warehouse and the complications of routing the right order at the right time, based on the inventory, to the right place for the right price. They are sophisticated in how they think that through, and they make recommendations to us on how to execute all of that.”
ChannelApe makes its experience-born best practices available to all clients. If a customer encounters an issue, they can turn to ChannelApe’s library to see best-in-class solutions, based on years of the ChannelApe platform getting smarter, because so many orders are passing through the platform.
“They take the functionality and make it available to everybody who uses their technology, which we wouldn’t necessarily be able to do on our own,” Sharkey says. “ChannelApe is providing us with scalable solutions.”
Every time they purchase a pair of magical sneaker-slipper-flats, Birdies’ customers can take comfort in knowing their shoes will reach them, as promised, via a seamless, hassle-free fulfillment process. Since Birdies started using ChannelApe, Sharkey notes, “We can more quickly and affordably ship to our customers. We’ve had significantly fewer shipping issues — and that makes our customers happier.”