How PetLab Co. Runs a $100M+ DTC & B2B Business With ShipBob [Case Study]

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Discover how leading pet vitamin and supplement brand, PetLab Co., scaled to 150,000+ DTC and B2B orders per month after partnering with ShipBob.

Fast forward almost two years: learn how ShipBob has enabled PetLab Co. to scale YoY in this updated case study.

Customer Profile

PetLab Co. is a pet-wellness brand designed for pets, built by pet lovers. Based in London and founded by Chris Masanto and Damian Grabarczyk in 2018, PetLab is focused on educating the public on building healthy habits for their beloved furry friends and providing the best, science-backed products for supporting and optimising pet health and quality of life. Today, PetLab’s offerings focus on canines with supplements boasting benefits such as immune support, joint care, gut health, and more. PetLab’s products cover dog parents’ common health concerns to keep their pets happy and healthy. 

Key metrics

  • 5 ShipBob fulfilment centres in the US
  • 20% increase in orders YoY
  • 45,000+ orders per week on average
  • Millions of items shipped
  • 85% of orders delivered in 0-4 days
  • 100+ employees
  • 2-person logistics team

About PetLab Co.

Dogs are more than pets – they’re family. No one knows this better than PetLab Co. founder, Chris Masanto. 

Chris’ family dog, Krystal, lived to be 18 years old. Toward the end of her life, Krystal suffered from severe arthritis that made it painful for her to walk. Chris’ family made Krystal as comfortable as possible and provided her with luxuries like human-grade food and a spacious stroller to improve and extend her time with them. But Chris, a health enthusiast himself, wished he had done more for her earlier. 

This got Chris wondering: what if there were more pet owners could do to extend and improve the quality of life for their dogs? Together with his friend and fellow pet enthusiast, Damian Grabarczyk, Chris started PetLab Co. to provide high-quality supplements to enhance the lives of dogs. 

This mission resonated with pet owners all over. As a result, in just 4 years, PetLab is one of the world’s leading canine supplement brands today.  

We spoke with PetLab’s Co-CEO, Stephanie Lee, to understand how the brand has grown, earned its spot at the top of the pet supplement industry, and partnered with ShipBob for its omnifulfillment capabilities. 

Finding the right fulfilment partner to navigate growth at scale 

As told to ShipBob by Stephanie Lee, Co-CEO at PetLab Co.

Our mission is simple. We want to help pet parents, starting with dog owners, provide the very best care for their pets. This means education is a huge component of what we do and providing high quality products that make it easier for people to give their pups the best care.

We, as a team, obsess over what we do:

  1. Our product developers prioritize ingredient efficacy and quality.
  2. Our creative and marketing teams relentlessly test best methods for delivering helpful tips and videos for pet parents.
  3. Our customer care agents are our customers’ biggest champions.
  4. Our compliance team polices accurate communication and claims.
  5. Our ops team stays up at night worrying about supply chain.
  6. Our people and culture team constantly advocate for creating the best work environment for our employees and their pets! 

You get the picture.

What we aren’t experts in is warehousing and fulfilment. While we obsess over getting it right, we know that we are currently better served in finding a partner who makes it their job to care as much about our business, our products, and customer experience as we do. Some of the largest petcare companies are based in the United States and being a UK-based brand, ShipBob helps us bridge the gap with a strong presence covering all regions of the US.

Stephanie Lee shares the importance of using a fulfilment partner when your operations team is lean at ShipBob’s Fulfilled 2023.

In an average week, we’re shipping out around 30,000 orders. When we first started with ShipBob, it was about 65% of that. The US is our biggest market, and we’ve been able to continue to deliver strong growth as a result of the strength of our internal team and our relationship with trusted partners like ShipBob. 

Scaling quickly comes with its challenges, but ShipBob was able to take some of the complexities of that growth off our hands. We needed a fulfilment partner that could keep up and get orders shipped out fast without additional work by us or our needing to hire additional staff. ShipBob filled that void. 

“The amount of volume ShipBob is doing for us is really impressive – almost 5,000 orders in a day, and we know they have capacity to do much more and scale with us as we continue to grow. At this point in time, we have no intention of setting up and managing our own warehouses, so using ShipBob for fulfilment with customisation, control, and visibility, while managing our volumes is key.”

Stephanie Lee, COO at PetLab Co.

We’re a petcare brand focused primarily on developing the best products for pet parents and creatively sharing all that we can on pet health. That is where our team concentrates its efforts. We don’t want to deal with the hassle of having our own facility, managing warehouse employees, figuring out regulatory requirements for operating fulfilment and storage facilities, and planning for the hiring needs that accompany the holiday season, so ShipBob is the perfect solution for a company like us. 

As we’ve grown over the past year, we’ve also experienced working with some partners who were not able to scale as quickly as we needed them to without having an impact on efficiency and quality. Quality is non-negotiable for us, and ShipBob has shown us time and again that they will treat our products like their products. 

At the same time, while ShipBob has exhibited its ability to manage large volumes, they have also made our experience working with them feel intimate. Each of our operations team members have a direct line with our ShipBob success team, and every time we voice making an improvement or requesting a change, they have come back with solutions so that together, we can do more. 

Leveraging ShipBob for both B2B and DTC fulfilment

When we onboarded with ShipBob last year, we hit the ground running with both DTC and B2B orders. In fact, we had just started with Chewy around the same time we partnered with ShipBob. 

Fulfilling orders quickly through our site and marketplaces is a must-have, not a nice-to-have for our business. From the beginning, we knew that the early Chewy orders would need to go through our fulfilment partner — all of our retail distribution orders from Chewy go through ShipBob’s fulfilment centres today. Selling on marketplaces is challenging enough, and ShipBob’s ability to service both D2C and B2B has enabled us to build more consistent procedures and practices across our different sales channels.

Along with Chewy, we’re also fulfilling orders through Amazon, as they are the two biggest online pet sales channels in the US. We utilise ShipBob’s EDI solution that is connected to our 3rd party EDI platform SPS Commerce for our Chewy orders, and when we don’t ship directly to Amazon, we rely on ShipBob’s direct integration with Amazon for FBA orders. We’re even exploring additional channels that ShipBob supports, such as Walmart.com.

Being an omnichannel brand is critical for us, so we can reach more pet lovers from more places. We’re glad that ShipBob helps us keep up with demand from all the places we reach our customers.

Simplifying our growingly complex operations

ShipBob takes the time to listen to its customers. I remember meeting Dhruv for the first time and all he wanted to know was what wasn’t meeting expectations. I mentioned an issue, we walked into the Cicero warehouse, and he immediately tried to recreate the circumstances I described. He’s a real problem solver, and I soon learned that the whole ShipBob team is driven by a desire for providing creative solutions for their partners. 

Early in the year, we mentioned to ShipBob that our work would be easier if they built a system in which we could ship our inventory to one central warehouse and ShipBob could take on the responsibility for allocating the inventory across its fulfilment network. We wanted better cross-docking solutions. Think Amazon FBA. 

Inventory placement takes a layer of inventory planning off our hands. That’s work that we wouldn’t have to do, especially as we add more fulfilment centres to be closer to our customers for faster and less expensive shipping. Sending product to one location and later seeing how the inventory is distributed across the fulfilment centres for faster delivery to customers and minimising out-of-stock instances would definitely free up our team’s time, reduce the cost of shipping to ShipBob, and help us plan more effectively.

Six months after we mentioned this request, ShipBob announced that they were beta testing this service and invited us into their pilot program. This level of service is amazing. It’s still early on in the program, but we know that ShipBob will continue to listen to its customers and provide real solutions to pressing issues. Each innovation helps our operations team create better experiences for our customers.

Curating and executing a custom brand experience 

We’ve recently been working on finding ways to make our unboxing experience better and revamping our packaging. When we first started with ShipBob, we had metal tins and bottles for our products. Unfortunately, we – and our customers – noticed that our tins and bottles were getting dented in transit. The primary packaging was exactly what we wanted, but they were not reaching customers in the form we had intended. 

We worked directly with our ShipBob team to uncover that in the packaging system we had in place, our boxes would benefit from a sturdier cardboard, our box sizes were not optimised to minimise rattling in transit – even with the added dunnage, and our metal product containers needed to be thicker. While our team explored long-term solutions for packaging, we worked closely with ShipBob to map out steps taken at the packing stations to minimise denting in transit. As part of this solution, we utilised both geami paper and extra dunnage and mapped out which order combinations would require either or both protective materials to cushion our products in transit while minimising the extra time required for packing.

“What made this process even better, was after we created this interim solution in one ShipBob fulfilment centre, we were able to roll it out across all of our five locations seemingly instantly. This gave us the confidence that we could design a multi-step packaging protocol and ShipBob would work with its team to have the process uniformly followed by all teams handling PetLab Co. orders.”

Stephanie Lee, COO at PetLab Co.

If someone is going to treat your products like their own, that’s the most you can hope for in a fulfilment partner. ShipBob does exactly that. The customer experience and brand consistency is really important to us, so to receive that level of support from ShipBob means so much to us.

This experience also taught us how important it was to involve fulfilment and logistics earlier in the packaging process. Because we don’t operate our own warehouse and fulfilment centres, we need to trust a 3PL team that is going to be invested in delivering our products to the best of their ability. During the past couple months, we’ve tested various ideas with the ShipBob team and had the opportunity to even test within their warehouses. This iterative and collaborative approach has been crucial in helping us rework packaging design while also being mindful of time and cost.

“One of my favorite things about ShipBob is how cohesive and standardized everything is across their entire fulfilment network. After having worked with a 3PL that only had two locations which were run almost independently, we wanted to scale with a 3PL partner that had multiple fulfilment centres for reducing shipping time and cost. But, we dreaded that we’d ultimately have to work with each fulfilment centre individually. That has not been the case – we can request a change with our ShipBob team and this change will be documented and consistently implemented in each of the locations that ship our products.”

Stephanie Lee, COO at PetLab Co.

Getting attention to detail for lot codes

A thoughtful fulfilment partner is really important for a company like ours. The ShipBob team has done a wonderful job of checking in on our inventory because we have batch codes and expiration dates to worry about. 

Our product batches are deliberately small to ensure quality control. We’re very careful about maintaining the highest quality possible because our products are ingested by our pets. Lot management through ShipBob helps us maintain organisation and inventory accuracy.

With ShipBob’s lot product return to sender feature, we can quickly know which products can be sent back out so we always have enough inventory.

Maintaining speed of delivery

In order to scale, large brands need to have a solid fulfilment partner in place because speed of delivery is important. Giant retailers like Amazon have created new norms for acceptable delivery times.

For now, consumers are more forgiving of DTC companies and generally deem the standard 3-5 business days for delivery to be adequate for orders in the US. This is an important metric for us, and we work with the ShipBob team to ensure that the vast majority of our orders are delivered within 2-3 business days. In closely monitoring this data, ShipBob has been able to identify regional couriers that work better for our orders. ShipBob really understands the importance of fast shipping and makes it a standard practice, even through big promotions and holiday sales.

“The network and team that ShipBob has are incredible. We’re able to leverage a vast network of domestic fulfilment centres. The ability to touch base with the team and use a data-driven approach for identifying areas of improvement and where we might benefit from expanding our use of the ShipBob fulfilment centre locations has saved us time and allowed us to provide better experiences for our customers.” 

Stephanie Lee, COO at PetLab Co.

PetLab Co. and ShipBob, almost two years later

As told to ShipBob by Stephanie Lee, Co-CEO at PetLab Co. 21 months after the original conversation from above. 

Since we last spoke, PetLab has been busy! Poor dental hygiene is such a common problem for pet parents, and after three years of R&D, we launched ProBright and ProBright Advanced to help address this concern.

We worked closely with nutritionists, clinical researchers, veterinarians, veterinarian dentists, scientists, and ingredient innovators, to develop these formulas, and we’ve been so happy to see the results that our customers are sharing and the positive impact ProBright and ProBright Advanced are making. And of course, ShipBob has been at the centre of getting our latest products into the hands of pet parents. 

Forecasting where demand will be highest is always a tricky exercise, especially when coupled with how much inventory we want to put into each fulfilment centre. We’ve been working together with ShipBob to figure out how much inventory we want to place in each of the fulfilment centres so that we can get our products into customers’ hands as quickly as possible.

“This collaborative effort has definitely had an impact. In 2022, 79% of our orders with ShipBob reached customers within 0-4 days, and in 2023, this same stat was 85%. Year over year, that’s a 7.45% improvement on average. For a subscription business, this speed and reliability are crucial. We’ve seen a positive effect on our customers in terms of compliments on our delivery times and fewer outreach related to shipment inquiries.”

Stephanie Lee, Co-CEO at PetLab Co.

Growing over $100M in revenue with a 2-person logistics team

The operations team at PetLab is relatively lean. Under that umbrella, we have supply chain, logistics, quality, and new product execution (which focuses on manufacturing and delivery of new products).

“When we first started with ShipBob, our team consisted of four people dedicated to logistics and fulfilment, but as we continued to work closely with ShipBob over the last two years, we were able to reduce our logistics team to two and allow our other teammates to focus on other departments.

We’re managing hundreds of thousands of orders regularly, working on new product launches, assessing OTIF data, determining inventory placement, preparing for peak season, and planning inventory availability around major marketing campaigns – we couldn’t do that without a partner like ShipBob, who helps us navigate so many of those obstacles.” 

Stephanie Lee, Co-CEO of PetLab Co.

There are consultants out there who will do logistics analyses that determine when and where to open a fulfilment centre to create efficiencies and improve transit times. We didn’t have to seek out a third-party to do that type of research, as ShipBob did that and continues to do this for us.

There’s an element of trust there – we needed to trust that the data in their analyses was correct, but we already had established that trust with ShipBob from historical experience and they’re constantly delivering accessible data in real-time. 

Finding a fulfilment partner that’s an extension of your brand 

As I’ve transitioned from COO to my new role as Co-CEO over the last year, the trust I have in ShipBob has helped me make the switch more seamlessly. The biggest obstacles you face as an ecommerce business are the unexpected ones. 

“When something unexpected happens, your first thought is: 1: What was the root cause of this issue? And 2: Do we have a partner that has the same sense of urgency as we do that can help us identify a solution? ShipBob is that partner for us. I know that if something goes wrong, we can lean on ShipBob to get it handled quickly. That’s what it means to have a true partner. Having that peace of mind makes everyone’s jobs easier, mine included.” 

Stephanie Lee, Co-CEO of PetLab Co.

Our trust in ShipBob goes deep as we know they will help us maintain our brand image. ShipBob is a better steward of our brand than some of our other partners at times. For example, during the inbound process, ShipBob inspected our products and found that some products had dust from the manufacturing facility. They reached out to us asking if we wanted customers to receive products in that condition – we didn’t. 

Luckily, we were able to intervene, get the containers wiped down, and ensure that our product went out to customers in the way we intended. A little dust isn’t something most consumers would submit a complaint about, but we know how important first impressions are for the brand experience. ShipBob is truly an extension of our brand.

Gaining insights from like-minded DTC brands at ShipBob’s Fulfilled events

I’ve had the opportunity to attend several of ShipBob’s Fulfilled events. These merchant offsites are great because you get the opportunity to meet with other DTC brands. You’re in good company because everyone has dealt with some version of what you’re dealing with, so they really understand what you’re going through and empathize with it. 

Everyone is really good at being transparent and sharing what has worked for them and what hasn’t. The open forum is really helpful because we’re all trying to figure out similar solutions. That’s the most gratifying part of Fulfilled. 

Additionally, ShipBob has fostered an environment where they’re asking “What can we do better?” and “Can you share ways you think we can improve?”

To my earlier point, ShipBob handles our customers’ first impressions of the brand with delivery and actually getting PetLab products into their hands. We do it digitally, but ShipBob does it physically. We’re always thinking of ways to improve that experience for our customers, so having Fulfilled as a space to explore those ideas is incredibly important to us, and to other DTC companies.  

What’s next for PetLab Co.

We’re testing out ShipBob’s Inventory Placement Program now with a couple of our SKUs. Having a solution like that will be really interesting for us, as it takes a lot of planning off of our plate. 

To get products to fulfilment centres, it’s sort of like a game of telephone – you talk to your manufacturer about how many units you need at each fulfilment centre but they might not get that right. Some might end up at the wrong fulfilment centre, or you receive fewer units at one facility than you needed. Those are pretty big headaches to resolve. 

ShipBob has also weeded out some last-mile couriers that weren’t working that well. In terms of data accuracy around when things actually get delivered has really improved and OTIF has improved. We pride ourselves at PetLab in constantly pushing ourselves to be better, and this has been a criteria for us in selecting our partners. We think “Are they also pushing themselves to improve and do better?”

We’re excited to see where we’ll be a year from now with ShipBob!

PetLab Co.’s team at ShipBob

Jessica St. John

Jessica is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at ShipBob and supports the PetLab Co. team.

Kevin Cliggett

Kevin is the Enterprise Account Executive that helped bring PetLab Co. into ShipBob.

Wes Duqette

Wes is the VP, Merchant Success & Implementation at ShipBob and PetLab’s Executive Sponsor.

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Written By:

Meredith is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes articles, eGuides, and other resources to help growing ecommerce businesses master their logistics and fulfillment.

Read all posts written by Meredith Flora