Learn how probiotic supplement brand ZBiotics utilizes ShipBob’s Inventory Placement Program to balance their inventory throughout the fulfillment network to offer cheaper shipping to customers.
Zack Abbott and Stephen Lamb joined together to launch the world’s first genetically engineered probiotic in order to help people feel better the day after drinking alcohol. Customers drink the bottle of ZBiotics probiotic 0-120 minutes before their first alcoholic beverage in order to feel better the next morning after drinking.
- 15x increase in production scale
- 3 person supply chain team
- 4 ShipBob US fulfillment centers used in PA, NY, CA, and TX
After learning about the power of genetically engineered microbes and the role they could play in the human body during his PhD candidacy, ZBiotics founder Zack Abbott wanted to create a product that could help people live happier and healthier lives.
With dozens of ideas conjured up, Zack shared the list of potential products with friends and family members to help him decide which product to take to market. Surprisingly, the consensus pointed to a microbe that helped break down acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol, aimed at helping people feel better the day after drinking.
Once he created the product, Zack partnered with Stephen Lamb, a student wrapping up his JD and MBA, in order to launch ZBiotics and bring this technology to the masses. After working tirelessly for many years, the ZBiotics team launched the world’s first genetically engineered probiotic in 2019.
Since then, ZBiotics has used the power of engineered probiotics to make mornings easier and more productive for tens of thousands of people worldwide. As a result of the product’s popularity, ZBiotics needed a fulfillment provider that could be a partner in their growth and provide solutions to help them scale.
We talked to Michael Mullaney, ZBiotics’ VP of Supply Chain, to learn more about how the brand is optimizing their supply chain, how a quick hiatus made them realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and how ShipBob’s continuous improvements have helped the brand succeed.
Overhauling production and packaging to optimize the supply chain
As told to ShipBob by Michael Mullaney, VP of Supply Chain at ZBiotics.
I was brought onboard as the first supply chain hire at ZBiotics. As a high-growth company, we wanted to optimize how we were managing our supply chain. Things have changed drastically in the 2 years since I joined as we are making a concerted effort to improve our quality systems, build redundancy and resiliency in the supply chain, and manage overall costs.
My first task was securing a new manufacturer. We were working with a company out east, but we needed a partner who could scale faster and adapt their bottling process to the specifics of our probiotic. We pivoted to a new process and have a more consistent and higher quality product as a result.
Our production orders have scaled greatly, by 15X in the past 2 years. This growth opens the door to more opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiencies throughout the supply chain. Through RFPs in the past 2 years we have reduced both material and manufacturing costs, improved quality and food safety, and created a more robust and risk-resilient supply chain.
Specifically, we redesigned our secondary packaging (product boxes), reducing costs by source reduction (using less material), domestic manufacturing (lower freight), and greatly reduced lead times (for better cash flow). Downstream we reduced material and fulfillment costs, and minimized product breakage in transit.
Our Merchant Success Manager at ShipBob was helpful through this process. When we were deciding on new packaging, the ShipBob team would analyze dimensions to ensure we were staying under a certain weight band.
For instance, when they tested the first iteration of our new packaging, they found that the update wouldn’t have afforded us any cost savings based on how carriers charge for dimensional weight and weight/size tiers. So we went back to the drawing board to make the box smaller to get there.
Switching to a 3PL with flashy promises but archaic technology…and coming back
When I joined the ZBiotics team, we were working with ShipBob, but we actually transitioned to a different fulfillment provider shortly after. The experience was a bit of a mess, to be honest.
The other provider offered same-day delivery, which was the big draw for why we wanted to try working with them. But they were still in startup mode and had a lot of issues to work out with their dashboard. Their technology was a long way behind ShipBob’s software and didn’t have a lot of the core functionality we had become used to at ShipBob.
Using them was not a good experience, and we ended up working with them for less than 6 months. That led us back to ShipBob. And since switching back, working with ShipBob has been a really great experience.
Leveraging ShipBob’s Inventory Placement Program to balance SKU mix
At the beginning of this year, we got introduced to the team at ShipBob working on their Inventory Placement Program. They said ZBiotics had the right profile for the program because we sell a single product in various size options.
We talked through details like the volume and frequency we would be shipping to ShipBob’s Southwest receiving hub in California, which would cross-dock and send our inventory to several other regions from where we ship orders. We also talked in detail about how our pallets are set up and the amount of product that is on each pallet. This way, ShipBob knew exactly what they were receiving from us and how to break it down in order to send units to other fulfillment centers.
The way ShipBob has set up the Inventory Placement Program is pretty straightforward. We ship all of our products to the Moreno Valley, California facility and ShipBob’s real-time data analyzes our recent inventory positions across locations to decide how much of the new inventory to move to each fulfillment center. This is a great process because it takes a load off of our team, making inventory replenishment simpler and more up-to-date.
“All we have to do is send a truckload of product to one location, and ShipBob does the rest. They push the product out with the right SKU mix by fulfillment center based on calculations for which fulfillment centers need what. It was a no-brainer to start using ShipBob’s Inventory Placement Program program.”Michael Mullaney, VP of Supply Chain at ZBiotics
ZBiotics VP of Supply Chain, Michael Mullaney, on the benefits of ShipBob’s Inventory Placement Program at ShipBob’s merchant event, Fulfilled.
Before being a part of the Inventory Placement Program, we were shipping LTLs to each fulfillment center, so it made a lot of sense for us to take advantage of this program. Previously, our Inventory Planner was doing calculations to determine which SKUs needed to go where, but she doesn’t have to do that now. This solution has made our jobs easier, and the pricing was competitive.
There’s a level of visibility that allows us to see the internal transfers being made, so we know when products are expected to arrive at each fulfillment center. While I love working within spreadsheets, that type of modeling is rough because it isn’t updated in real-time. Using ShipBob’s real-time data and being able to see when inventory reaches the initial hub location really takes work off of our plates.
“My favorite thing about the Inventory Placement Program is that it takes the burden off of our team and it’s based on real-time calculations, giving us the right distribution by SKU at each fulfillment center. It’s comforting to know that we have a good balance between fulfillment centers on a day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month basis, so our customers receive packages via the lowest shipping zone possible among the four ShipBob fulfillment centers we’re in across the US.
That ultimately helps us get products to our customers faster, giving them a great ZBiotics experience from start to finish.”Michael Mullaney, VP of Supply Chain at ZBiotics
ZBiotic’s team at ShipBob
Brian is the Senior Manager, Mid Market Sales that brought ZBiotics into ShipBob.
Michael is the Senior Merchant Success Manager at ShipBob who supports the ZBiotics team.
Marc is part of ShipBob’s Merchant Care Team. He provides support to several IPP merchants like ZBiotics.
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Interested in leveraging ShipBob’s fulfillment platform and Inventory Placement Program for your business? Connect with our team to get started.