Parker Baby Talks Small Business Shipping
While on the surface Freightos.com is a digital freight platform, if you look deeper it is also a community of entrepreneurs building their great ideas into scalable businesses.
Many of our importers have had massive success, but not without ironing out a lot of kinks in their supply chains, including finding the best solutions for small business shipping.
For newer Freightos.com users, these experiences can be instructive so we’re talking to some successful small businesses in our community about lessons, tips, and tools they’ve picked up along the way.
Meet Parker Baby
One of our longtime users is Colorado-based Parker Baby, a company that provides accessible and exceptional baby products to parents.
Since founding in 2015, Parker Baby has grown from one SKU on Amazon to over 60 SKUs sold across a range of platforms and has experienced exponential year over year growth.
So, how did parents of four Sam and Kristen Huebner build a global brand?
Sam sat down with us to talk about Parker Baby and what he has learned about scaling a small business into something much, much bigger.
Picking the First Product
Parker is a sweet and wooded suburb about 25 miles southeast of Denver where Sam and Kristen are raising twin girls, a sweet toddler, and a new baby boy.
About five years ago, Sam was working as an investment banker and the young couple was starting their family and inevitably spending a lot of money on baby products – many of which Kristen wasn’t satisfied with.
Bibs, for example, are either generic, poorly designed, and cheap, or are from luxury brands, well designed, and exorbitantly expensive.
From her experience with twin daughters, one of whom had reflux, Kristen had some great ideas about making a better bib to simplify life.
Finding a gap in the market for a high quality, stylish, and affordable bib without scratchy velcro or ugly patterns, Kristen and Sam launched their first product under the Parker Baby brand.
And it was a hit.
Every product that Parker Baby creates is inspired by the realities of parenthood and the need for simplification.
From the perfect hair accessories for babies without hair to a portable diaper caddy to organize diapering on the go, Sam and Kristen use every product they create and design products with their children in mind.
“What is popular today may not be popular tomorrow. It’s important to have a large enough addressable market and audience, so think about products that will stand the test of time and that your customers will always need.” -Sam
3 Tips for SMB Supply Chain Success
While Parker Baby started out as a side project with just one product listed on Amazon, Sam has since left his job in investment banking and the company now has a team of employees, a catalogue of exceptional products, and a well-oiled supply chain. How did they do it?
From sourcing to fulfillment, Sam has some great insights.
1. Sourcing product for SMBs
When Sam and Kristen started figuring out where to source their first product, referrals from other eCommerce entrepreneurs were really valuable.
Learning about businesses from people who have already had dealings with them in the past can help you find the best supplier for your needs.
Once you have secured a supplier, building a relationship and even meeting face to face if possible will give you an ally when developing new products or finding solutions to issues as they arise.
Even if your supplier can’t help you with something, they’ll likely know someone who can and can help you troubleshoot in the local lingo.
Plus, taking time to know your suppliers will help you on the financing side as well.
Find suppliers that work with flexible payment terms to keep your cash flow steady.
With the constantly shifting landscape of global business, it’s important for small businesses to have multiple pathways to getting product.
This is something that trade tariffs and global pandemics have really shone a light on:
DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY
If one supplier shuts down or the total costs change, having other sources is vital to maintaining your momentum. Of course, when you pick a supplier, make sure they are as proximal to the port of exit to keep costs down.
Right now Parker Baby carries over 60 SKUs manufactured in China, India, Cambodia, and Turkey, so if one pipeline dries up or becomes a bottleneck, this doesn’t stop products from getting to customers.
2. Small business shipping
Shipping is not a one size fits all kind of business. For small business shipping, lowering costs and maintaining operations will likely mean finding different shipping solutions for different products or destinations.
For Parker Baby, getting a referral for Freightos.com helped a lot with researching a variety of shipping options before picking the right one.
Keeping small business shipping streamlined requires some organization. If you don’t account for lead time, you may wind up stuck with expensive air freight for large and heavy items.
While ocean freight might be cheaper, it can also be slow and depending on last leg logistics and warehousing, may not save you money after all.
On paper, the most economical way to ship is 40ft full container loads (FCL) by ocean freight, but sometimes the most economical way isn’t the best.
For Sam, for example, shipping fewer, light items from India works out better with air, but for shipping popular or bulky Parker Baby products in large quantities from China, ocean freight FCL is ideal.
Another consideration is lead time with FCL compared to LCL.
When you ship LCL, your products are part of a larger container. Once the freight forwarder that you book with gets the product landed, it will still need to be moved to a warehouse to be separated and shipped. This adds around ten days to the fulfillment leg, compared to FCL that ships straight away.
Other tips for optimizing small business shipping include:
- Leverage your relationship with suppliers to facilitate flexible payment and shipping solutions
- Diversify shipping methods to make sure you don’t have stock outs and to reduce the cost of duties
- If you are a larger importer, save time and money by purchasing an annual customs bond vs a single entry customs bond.
3. Fulfillment for SMBs
Parker Baby launched on Amazon initially and the platform has been the company’s bread and butter, but with the growth of the company Sam and Kristen decided it was time to diversify.
Now that their website accounts for a majority of sales, finding warehousing and fulfillment to foster continued growth became a new focus.
This illustrates an important point: fulfillment is something that you may not figure out from day one.
Your strategy may change as your small business expands, so keep checking out better, cheaper fulfillment options over the course of your business journey.
Coming from a finance background, Sam has insightful advice for small eCommerce businesses:
Know your margins and always build in around 20-30% customer acquisition cost to your margins, especially if selling from your own site.
Last leg logistics can pile on additional costs, so it’s also important to figure out what it will cost to get your products from the port of entry and into the hands of customers. For small business shipping, accounting for the entire supply journey is vital.
Parker Baby keeps their website fulfillment local, with a warehouse just outside of Denver, but also has a warehouse in California for bulk storage and keeps inventory in Amazon fulfillment facilities across the country.
Once again, diversifying is the key to maintaining a stable supply chain.
“Know your margins and monitor them at the SKU level constantly. This is especially important when you’re first starting out so you can leave enough margin to scale.” – Sam
To sum up…
As an eCommerce entrepreneur, ironing out logistics can be challenging when you’re first setting up your business. That’s where experienced importers can offer guidance for small business shipping, supply, and fulfillment solutions.
Thank you Parker Baby!