How Eco-Friendly CPG Brand Food Huggers Manages Viral Fulfilment With ShipBob [Case Study]

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Learn why reusable food storage brand Food Huggers partners with ShipBob to navigate demand surges and support growth.

“Whether we’re doing regular order volumes or selling a year’s worth of orders in one day, ShipBob is prepared and able to fulfil those orders.”

— Juliana Brasil, Director of Operations at Food Huggers

Customer Profile

Food Huggers is a brand on a mission to create durable tools that replace single-use plastic at home, and that make it convenient, stylish, and affordable to have a sustainable kitchen. Each of their 5 product types use the unique properties of silicone to keep food fresher for longer, minimise food waste, and come in a variety of sizes to fit every fruit, veggie, jar, or bunch. With mixed-product bundles and an array of colours, Food Huggers make it both easy and fun to adopt better, more eco-conscious reusable food storage solutions in the kitchen.  

Key Metrics

  • 2 patents 
  • $183,000+ raised on Kickstarter by 5,414 backers 
  • 497% increase in average monthly sales in January 2021
  • Made of 100% FDA food grade silicone that is dishwasher, microwave, and freezer-safe
  • 100% BPA and phthalate-free

We’ve all had it happen: the perfectly-good tomato, lemon, or avocado half that you saved goes bad after just a couple days, and you have to throw it out. You’re forced to waste more food, spend more money on groceries, and are left wondering: “How can I stop wasting food?”     

Back in 2013 (before eco-friendly products were as popular as they are now), two women thought of a solution.

They called it a Food Hugger: a reusable silicone food storage device that would suction to a half-used fruit or vegetable to preserve it for longer, so that you can use the rest of the item and reduce the amount of food that’s thrown away. 

The two founders made mockups (one for round fruits or vegetables, and one especially for avocados), and put the idea up on Kickstarter. Through crowdfunding, they raised more than $183,000 — proof that there was demand for products that facilitated eco-conscious choices. 

After fulfiling their backer rewards and launching their first products on an ecommerce store, the team began developing even more types of Huggers, including jar lids and snap-shut bags. Then, in 2016, a video featuring Food Huggers garnered millions of views and catapulted Food Huggers to a whole new level of viral growth.

Ever since, Food Huggers has continued to build on that recognition, creating a multichannel ecommerce brand that keeps expanding as time goes on.    

We sat down with Food Huggers Director of Operations Juliana Brasil to learn more about the brand’s viral success and fulfilment journey.      

@foodhuggers Food Huggers & Avocado Huggers keep your delicious food fresh for longer. #fyp #foodhuggers #avocadohuggers #plasticfree #oddlysatifying ♬ original sound – foodhuggers

Discovering logistics support regardless of business size

As told to ShipBob by Juliana Brasil, Director of Operations at Food Huggers.

Not all fulfilment companies are created equal. 

Before we partnered with ShipBob, we worked with a 3PL that was absolutely massive. Because we were such a small part of their business, they turned out to be completely unapproachable — we couldn’t even talk to someone from their team on the phone. 

When we went viral in 2016 and suddenly had thousands of additional orders to fill, we knew we had to outsource to a different 3PL that could give us the attention we needed, regardless of our size. 

We moved to ShipBob right after that, and have received dedicated support ever since! We’ve had a handful of Merchant Success Managers as our main point of contact at ShipBob, and each one has been stellar. With real individuals helping us troubleshoot and provide guidance, we know that the next time we go viral, we will always be ready.  

One of the reasons we chose ShipBob was we wanted a fulfilment partner that would be more approachable. We wanted to actually be able to talk to a live person for support, and have an account manager — and with ShipBob, we do! Our current Merchant Success Manager is awesome — she’s always proactively reaching out to us to see how she can help grow our business.

— Juliana Brasil, Director of Operations at Food Huggers

Flexing up fulfilment when order volume spikes

Sure enough, we went viral again in January of 2021, after Food Huggers appeared on The Today Show. Our order volume just exploded! In the first week alone, it increased 786% compared to our previous weekly average.  

It was a tight, tight crunch — but thanks to ShipBob, we were able to keep up with the crazy demand no problem, and fulfil 97.3% of the orders on time! Even after the initial spike that led to a continued increase in orders, ShipBob maintained a 98.2% OTIF rate for the whole month of January (meaning that 98.2% of orders were delivered on-time and in-full) which helped us achieve 497% growth in sales month over month.    

Partnering with ShipBob allows us to not only do really well in moments like these, but really enjoy them without worrying about fulfilment capacity. Whether we’re doing regular order volumes or selling a year’s worth of orders in one day, ShipBob is prepared and able to fulfil those orders. ShipBob’s ability to handle such big spikes allows us to be there for customers no matter when they order, and gets us excited about growth instead of getting overwhelmed by it. 

“Spikes in order volume can happen at any time, so knowing that our 3PL partner is able to manage huge peaks in business and fulfil thousands of orders in a short time if needed is priceless. With ShipBob, we’re not afraid of going viral! We’re not afraid of blowing up, because we know that ShipBob will be able to handle surges in demand.”

— Juliana Brasil, Director of Operations at Food Huggers

Gaining inventory insights & an integrated tech stack

Our team and operations are geo-dispersed, so even though Food Huggers is a consumer packaged goods company, we rely on technology to move everything. Another thing I love about ShipBob is the dashboard!  

ShipBob’s focus on technology was one of the reasons we chose them for fulfilment in the first place. When I first toured ShipBob’s headquarters, I saw tech everywhere: the hundreds of office computers and monitors, the analytics dashboard, the warehouse management system that runs ShipBob’s warehouses, and more. It all comes together to form a solution that is easy to use, but comprehensive in scope.     

“ShipBob’s analytics are a huge bonus for a merchant looking to partner with a single 3PL that has a built-in order management tool. I was so stoked about being able to see the optimised layout of where you should be distributing your inventory is great. Having inventory and warehouse management capabilities built into your 3PL is such a value-add, especially for smaller companies.”

— Juliana Brasil, Director of Operations at Food Huggers

As we’ve grown, we’ve incorporated other ecommerce partners into our tech stack. Our online store is powered by Shopify, we use Skubana for order management, and rely on Gorgias for customer service and support. 

All of these partners integrate with ShipBob, which makes things so much simpler for streamlined ecommerce and logistics workflows. At the end of the day, we choose partners because they’re the best at what they do, and ShipBob is no exception. 

Sharing ideas with openness to feedback to implement real changes

Food Huggers started out as a wholesale business, and focused on creating a solid B2B business before shifting to DTC. 

When we onboarded with ShipBob several years ago, they didn’t do as complex B2B fulfilment and shipping as they do now. When I spoke with ShipBob about their potential B2B roadmap and changes in the past, I was so happy to then hear that all of my suggestions were actually implemented!

I’ve always really appreciated how ShipBob listens to its customers. Knowing that you’re working with a partner, not a tool, is super important to us, and that is what we’ve always gotten with ShipBob.”

— Juliana Brasil, Director of Operations at Food Huggers

ShipBob is going to continue to do incredibly well with B2B, especially having implemented feedback from real merchants and having made those changes and improvements. 

Food Huggers has also been instrumental in developing other initiatives ShipBob undertakes based on real feedback from the customer community, like ShipBob’s automatic shipping calculator. I’ve participated in other sessions with a few of ShipBob’s product development team members to share my thoughts on what’s helpful, and seen things come to life. They’ve always looped me in, which I really appreciate.

Streamlining product bundles for better inventory visibility

One thing that ShipBob enables us to offer on our DTC website that we don’t offer through B2B channels is product bundles. 

ShipBob’s dashboard makes it easy for us to create bundles of our reusable food storage options that are tailored to match different needs, which helps even more customers reach their sustainable kitchen goals. We can also update existing bundles, and synchronize inventory levels when bundled items are picked, packed, and shipped.

ShipBob’s simplified pricing model that includes several picks included in particular has always been very interesting and important for us — it allows us to flex with our bundles, without being charged more like other 3PLs do. In addition to the cost structure, it’s been good financially on the sales as well; over time, offering bundles through ShipBob has actually increased our overall order value and our units sold.

Maintaining sustainability throughout the supply chain

As a brand focused and founded on helping customers create sustainable kitchens, ShipBob’s ability to support eco-friendly packaging is a huge plus. With several picks included in ShipBob’s all-in fulfilment cost, we can introduce eco packaging into fulfilment really easily by simply storing it as a SKU and counting it as one of the picks — no costs on top of that for custom packaging and offering a consistent brand experience. 

Utilising ShipBob’s network of fulfilment centres allows us to lessen our carbon footprint as well. We’re currently storing inventory in some of ShipBob’s Southern California and Chicago facilities, which means that when we receive an order destined for someplace like New York, we don’t have to ship it from all the way across the country. 

By shortening the transit distance, we get to shorten transit time and reduce the amount of pollution produced in the shipping process. Even in the final stages of fulfilment and last-mile delivery, ShipBob enables us to stay true to our mission! 

What’s next for Food Huggers?

So much is happening at Food Huggers! First and foremost, we’re constantly innovating new reusable food storage tools. Apart from our new line of new Hugger Bags, we’re about to launch a product we’re calling Food Huggers Fabric: a silicone-coated organic cotton that looks and feels like cotton, but that can be dishwashed and machine-washed like silicone!

We’re also developing Cheese Huggers that come in 5 sizes to preserve cheese blocks, which will be launching very soon, and plan to eventually expand into the area of micro greens to help people grow their own fresh foods at home!  

Besides product development, we are also hoping to branch out and expand our DTC business into new geographies. Part of our plan this year is to start shipping DTC internationally, so ShipBob’s operating facilities in Canada, the UK, the EU, and Australia will definitely come in handy for us! It’s always exciting to see the potential of where else we can go as ShipBob keeps expanding its warehouse locations. 

Most of all, we are excited to keep growing as a brand and continue helping to answer the question of how to have a sustainable kitchen. We believe that people will make environmentally-friendly decisions if you design eco-friendly products that are fun, easy-to-use, and last forever — and that is precisely what we plan to do!   

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Written By:

Rachel is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes blog articles, eGuides, and other resources to help small business owners master their logistics.

Read all posts written by Rachel Hand