Dollar Beard Club partners with Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment to support a complex subscription business model.
Dollar Beard Club became a viral success in June 2015 when the company, focused on men’s beard grooming products, launched a viral video endorsing facial hair and encouraging its growth. The founders recognized an opportunity to capitalize on a niche market of facial hair enthusiasts and pursued it. “I’ll never get tired of saying it. When a bearded guy passes another bearded guy on the street, they look at each other and there’s this underlying brotherhood and there’s this sense of comradery,” said Chris Stoikos, Founder and CEO in an interview with BuzzFeed. “This is big. This is bigger than beard oil or balm or mustache wax […] it’s a lifestyle brand.”
Not only did Dollar Beard Club find a market gap, they filled it and locked in repeat customers at the same time. Offering the right products and prices through a subscription model, the company reported $7.4 million in sales during their first eight and a half months of business. However, the success of viral popularity is dependent on supporting sales all the way through delivery. Enter Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment.
Gaining efficiency through outsourcing
Within two days of launch, Dollar Beard Club subscribed 2,000 Beard Club members. The orders kept coming and the task of fulfilling them was left to interns working out of a garage. It was clear that manual operations would prohibit the company’s success, and after a brief experience with another provider, they found a long-term partner in Ingram Micro Commerce.
The scale of Ingram Micro Commerce’s global fulfillment network combined with access to intelligent supply chain management technology was attractive to Dollar Beard Club. Reflecting on their previous experience, Brett Anderson, COO said, “There was no integration, no automation and it was a very manual time-consuming process. The key difference is there was no web platform.”
Ingram Micro Commerce’s web platform, Shipwire, integrates with the company’s custom shopping cart technology and offers attractive flexibility and data management. Today, the Shipwire Platform provides Dollar Beard Club with reports on metrics like outbound shipping volumes, enables them to manage real-time data (e.g. inventory tracking) and feeds information directly into the company’s forecasting tools, enabling them to improve forecasting accuracy and business strategy.
Simple concept, complex logistics
While the idea behind Dollar Beard Club’s business is simple, the logistics are complex.
Online, their customers build a custom kit of grooming supplies selecting from items like oils and accelerators, then proceed through checkout, becoming Beard Club members. From there, they receive personalized kits in the mail each month.
A look at the operation required to support a custom-kitted subscription model reveals nuances and an impressive collaboration between Dollar Beard Club and Ingram Micro Commerce. From a fulfillment perspective, Dollar Beard Club is unique because Beard Club members choose what items are included in their monthly deliveries, which translates to more product combinations than are typically involved in a subscription model (most subscription services offer a pre-planned combination of products in their kits). For a company that has grown from 10 to 25 SKUs, variations from kit to kit have only become more complex over time.
Adding to their already high-volume operation, Dollar Beard Club sees frequent spikes in order volume driven by viral videos and celebrity endorsements. Sudden changes in demand requires Ingram Micro Commerce to be flexible in resourcing labor, space and equipment — all things that are manageable and planned for through their dedicated Account Manager, who ensures communication and execution is smooth.
For a pure-play ecommerce company, packaging is one of the most critical components in delivering a positive brand experience, since there are no storefronts or sales associates to enhance the brand’s impact. “Unboxing” has become a major part of the end customer experience is key to the brand integrity of lifestyle brands like Dollar Beard Club.
The kits created by Ingram Micro Commerce bring Dollar Beard Club’s brand to life and deliver the masculine, rugged feel portrayed in their advertising right to customers’ doorsteps. “Grow your beard” scrolls across branded boxes and products are nested in a bed of kraft paper that is functional and contributes to the brand’s aesthetic. Ingram Micro Commerce ensures that Dollar Beard Club’s brand is represented consistently across every order, conveying a feeling of quality to end customers.
What’s next for Dollar Beard Club?
Dollar Beard Club is initiating an aggressive scaling strategy to double their membership in the next calendar year. They plan on using the Ingram Micro Commerce network to expand their service internationally at the end of 2017. Also in the works is a brand update that will take them from “Dollar Beard Club” to “The Beard Club,” a subtle, but telling change that hints at an evolving business and product offering. Ingram Micro Commerce looks forward to supporting their bright future.