How Waveform Lighting Uses ShipBob’s API for Their Customized Fulfillment Experience [Case Study]
February 18, 2021
Learn how Waveform Lighting built a custom API integration using ShipBob’s flexible and easy-to-use Developer tools and outsourced their lighting fulfillment.
Unlike most lighting companies that aim for maximum brightness at the lowest possible cost, Waveform Lighting recognizes the importance of the quality of light.
The central idea behind light quality is that lighting is more than just for seeing, and that lighting is an emotional and personal experience that touches on aspects of interior design, human psychology, and overall well-being.
The Waveform Lighting team knows that a one-size-fits-all approach does not always work for lighting, so they focus on designing and manufacturing products that meet the needs of various specialized lighting applications.
We sat down with the Waveform Lighting team to learn more about this unique business and how they improved fulfillment and shipping by working with ShipBob.
Encountering fulfillment challenges while shipping light bulbs in-house
As told to ShipBob by the Waveform Lighting team.
When we first started, we shipped all of our orders in-house. This was all very exciting in the beginning: after all, having orders to ship means paying customers!
As our business grew, however, fulfilling orders quickly became very time-consuming, and warehouse operations became a challenge.
In addition to the time spent packing and driving to the post office, we also spent a lot of time and mental energy making sure that we had enough boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and other supplies on-hand at all times.
We also quickly learned that there is a very wide variation in customer preferences when it comes to lighting.
From a fulfillment perspective, this has meant a much higher number of SKUs and potential order line-item combinations, making it difficult to keep our various inventory items both organized and readily accessible.
For example, our basic A19 light bulb comes in six different color temperatures, each of which represents a slightly different shade of white light.
Customers will often purchase various combinations of these colors (e.g., one color for their bedroom and another color for their home office), which can quickly complicate the picking process.
Furthermore, because the light bulbs themselves appear identical with only minor differences on the packaging, we used to frequently make picking mistakes, leading to customer frustration and unnecessary return and re-shipping costs.
With a growing business, we realized we needed to maintain our focus on the primary parts of the business — engaging with customers and continuing to invest in product development.
We knew we couldn’t focus so much of our time and energy on shipping and fulfillment, and so we set out to find a 3PL partner.
After starting our search, we found that many 3PLs were not interested in working with us because we had too many SKUs and not enough volume to work with them. Others lacked the ability to ship internationally or only shipped using one carrier.
We then found ShipBob, who checked all the boxes. They have ended up being the perfect solution for us and we have never looked back!
Using ShipBob’s powerful API for greater flexibility
Unlike other 3PLs, ShipBob has a Developer API in addition to their native integrations, which gives us the ability to have very strict control over the fulfillment process and is a huge plus for us.
“Due to lighting products being so complex, having an extra layer of control before things get sent to ShipBob through their API is very helpful.”
Waveform Lighting Team
When it comes to lighting, we have to be quite careful about product compatibility based on the customer’s location. For example, some of our light bulbs are only compatible with the North American voltage level of 120 volts.
So, if we receive an order whose shipping address is in, say, South Korea where they use 220 volts, we need to place the order on hold and get in touch with the customer, as the product wouldn’t work there and could even be a safety hazard.
To address these types of situations, we wrote our own internal fulfillment code to perform automated checks and verifications. Our fulfillment code interfaces directly with ShipBob’s powerful and versatile Orders API, so we are provided with full flexibility and control over which orders we release for fulfillment.
We also utilize ShipBob’s Inventory API, which allows us to programmatically retrieve real-time data on how many units of each product are currently stored at ShipBob’s warehouses. We currently use this API to generate custom reports to tie this inventory data into our accounting platforms.
For reverse logistics, we have also been leveraging ShipBob’s Returns API to automate and streamline our routine RMA processes.
Having ShipBob handle our returns has been a huge help in reducing our daily workload, and the ability to drive this process via API is wonderful.
Partnering with professionals for greater accuracy and optimization
There are many difficulties associated with fulfilling and shipping lighting products, including the need to handle fragile glass bulbs and oversize lighting fixtures such as our 4-ft LED tube lights, but ShipBob has been the perfect partner in overcoming these challenges.
ShipBob supplies a range of standard box sizes, but because some of our products have such unusual dimensions, some of our shipments were being sent out with lots of empty space, leading to higher shipping costs.
Our Merchant Success Manager, Meg, provided us with an in-depth analysis based on our order history and helped us understand which custom box sizes we should stock ourselves at ShipBob warehouses to help reduce our costs.
We have come to really appreciate this level of visibility and control merchants are given over how items are packed prior to shipping. Our customers’ first impression of our products is the package they receive in the mail, so having full control over this aspect of the customer experience is crucial.
“We’ve been very impressed by ShipBob’s high accuracy as well as their ability to meet their SLAs. Before we migrated to ShipBob, this was a challenge due to limited resources and time, and we used to frequently make shipping mistakes ourselves.”
Waveform Lighting Team
ShipBob’s simple and transparent SLAs are very helpful for us and our customers, as we can tell them when we expect an order to ship and have full confidence that it will happen. We couldn’t reliably or confidently do that when we fulfilled orders ourselves.
What we’ve learned is that ShipBob has an excellent system in place, with all the resources, workflows, and processes needed to quickly and accurately fulfill all of our orders, including those that include our fragile glass bulbs and oversize lighting products. We don’t know how ShipBob does it, but it just gets done.
Overall, we are so appreciative of how merchant-focused ShipBob is. Meg has been so helpful in making sure we and our customers are taken care of, and it’s been such a rewarding partnership.
“We feel like ShipBob is a partner that’s in it together with us. We never get the sense that ShipBob is just interested in getting our fulfillment fees. It is much more than that — they really care about our success and what makes us successful as a company.”
Waveform Lighting Team
There is always an opportunity to improve our logistics operations, and our current focus is on getting our inventory stored in additional warehouses across ShipBob’s network so that we can reduce shipment in-transit times for our customers.
We are very excited to see ShipBob continue to expand both domestically and abroad, and are thankful to have ShipBob as a partner in our journey.
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