How Brummell Delivered on Holiday Sales With Last-Minute Ecommerce Fulfillment From ShipBob [Case Study]

Discover how menswear brand Brummell launched flawlessly right before the holidays by partnering with ShipBob to fulfill their ecommerce orders.

Customer Profile

Brummell is a men’s lifestyle brand offering premium subscription socks for those who value their time and convenience, understand that loud socks don’t always add personality, and love the feeling of new socks.

Key metrics:

  • 15,000 units arrived at founder and CEO’s apartment the day before Thanksgiving
  • 1 day to get inventory into a ShipBob fulfillment center
  • 3 days from inventory received to first order shipped by ShipBob

Steve Staffan is not a fan of colorful, gimmicky socks. As an investment banker, he often sees his sharply dressed colleagues sporting socks with crazy designs.

While this trend gained traction among men working in several industries, Steve recognized there weren’t any simple but sleek socks in the marketplace that were both made from premium materials and affordable.

Steve founded Brummell and launched a subscription service for men that want to make meaningful fashion choices without draining their checkbook.

Steve shares how he thought of and launched Brummell in under 2.5 months — while working his full-time finance job — and how he sold 5,000 socks during December alone, as Brummell took off as a men’s lifestyle brand by partnering with ShipBob.

Launching a subscription sock business

As told to ShipBob by Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell.

Last September 25, I came up with the idea of what would be Brummell — a subscription model where you can get your desired amount of new socks every quarter without having to run to a department store and pay 5-10 times what they should actually cost.

Since I was working my 7:00 am – 7:00 pm weekday finance job at a boutique bank in Chicago, I had nights and weekends to figure out how to launch my ecommerce endeavor.

I partnered with one of the bigger satirical Wall Street Twitter accounts, GSElevator, managed by John LeFevre, who also runs successful Medium and Business Insider pages, to launch Brummell. I locked in the social media aspect beforehand to launch to 1 million followers off the bat. The pressure was on to get everything done on time.

I vetted manufactures, found a supplier through Alibaba, and after hundreds of sock samples, I  found the perfect design.

I didn’t know how to (nor did I want to) handle fulfillment, so I set out to find help, fast. I quickly realized that most 3PLs require months of planning and onboarding, and this was cutting it very close to securing a last-minute fulfillment provider before the holidays.

I read about ShipBob as a growing fulfillment tech company in Chicago that had just closed a large round of funding.

In mid-October, still unsure of how I was going to start this sock company or manage logistics, I began the conversation with ShipBob.

Getting a 3PL at the last minute for the holiday rush

ShipBob represents what I was looking for in a 3PL as a seller — the exact opposite of Amazon in terms of user interface, customer service, and harsh fees.

Just from the first call with ShipBob, they were super helpful. I was introduced to custom sticker and packaging companies, communities of like-minded entrepreneurs, and other resources and partners that ultimately helped with the process of building Brummell.

It wasn’t until November 22 — the day before Thanksgiving — that I received my first round of inventory from my supplier, and 15,000 pairs of socks arrived at my apartment in downtown Chicago. That may have been the most stressful week of my life.

I had to hire movers to transfer my inventory from my apartment before Thanksgiving in preparation for Cyber Monday and Brummell’s Business Insider launch, scheduled for December 1.

One day after I received the inventory in my apartment, on November 23, the inventory was in ShipBob’s Chicago fulfillment center. By November 25, we were successfully shipping orders out to customers.

All of this was done seamlessly and just in time for our big launch on December 1st with Business Insider. It’s hard to put into words how lucky we consider ourselves to have gotten in touch with ShipBob when we did.

“Looking back, I’m still not sure how we pulled everything off, and I have no clue what I would have done without ShipBob. I probably would have recruited a ton of friends to pack boxes and bring hundreds of shipments to the post office at one time, which would be terrible.”

Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell

We went from zero units sold to 5,000 in the first month and have been growing ever since. I know it would not have been possible to do without ShipBob, especially during the holidays.

Expanding with the right fulfillment network

In addition to ShipBob’s Chicago fulfillment center, we are also expanding into more of their fulfillment network to increase our geographic footprint.

Because 17% of our orders are shipped to New York, we are moving next into ShipBob’s Brooklyn fulfillment center. This will help reduce the shipping zones, and, as a result, our average time in transit and shipping cost.

As we’ve grown, ShipBob customer service continues to be very responsive to emails, and I always get the support I need right away.

“I can’t express enough how happy I have been to work with ShipBob. They have been instrumental to both the start-up stage and growth of our company. We have had a great experience over the past 12 months and look forward to the longer relationship.”

Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell

Having the right tech to ship Shopify orders with confidence

In contrast to working in the Amazon fulfillment dashboard, which looks like a Bloomberg terminal upon opening it, the ShipBob dashboard is awesome and extremely user-friendly.

Since our store is powered by Shopify, the integration between ShipBob and Shopify has made it really easy to manage everything from inventory and warehousing to customer communication.

It’s been really helpful when clients reach out, for example, when they enter the wrong address at checkout. I can jump into ShipBob and edit it.

“ShipBob has been a major help. I have the ShipBob app open next to the Shopify app and get to respond to emails and work on new product development — and never have to pack any socks.”

Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell

Looking ahead

brummell shipbobToday, about 35% of our customers are on a subscription plan. We’ve had a lot of success delivering premium-quality socks at a significant discount at regular intervals.

As we look forward, there is a lot in the works for Brummell — from celebrity endorsements and sponsorships to building out a referral program and expanding into new product lines — and we’ll continue to craft a strong gentlemen’s lifestyle brand off the Brummell legacy.

We are pleased to have a strong fulfillment partner during Q4 and throughout the entire year, and hope to 3x our holiday shipments this year. We are lucky to have ShipBob by our side.

Learn more

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