How Tonies Shipped 1M+ Tonieboxes in the US Alone With ShipBob [Case Study]

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Learn how toy brand Tonies partners with ShipBob to scale fulfilment, navigate peak season pressures, achieve real-time data, and more.

Customer Profile

In a world inundated with screens, award-winning toy brand Tonies is creating new ways for kids to engage their imaginations. Its durable, screen-free speaker system pairs with special tonie figurines – including popular characters like Peppa Pig, Spiderman, Toy Story, and countless Disney favorites – to play hours of audio storytelling, songs, educational content, and more, making it a favorite among parents and celebrities worldwide. Tonies is the fastest-growing toy company in Europe and a rising star in the US, having been named among Fast Company’s prestigious World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021 and top-ranked in Education.  

Key metrics

  • 3 ShipBob fulfilment centres 
  • 50% YoY growth every year 
  • 3 years in the US market     
  • Activated in 100+ countries  
  • 5.7M+ boxes and 72M Tonies sold worldwide 
  • 6,000 retail partnerships 

About Tonies

If you’re a parent and you’re worried about your children spending too much time in front of screens, you’re not alone. In 2016, friends Patric Faßbender and Marcus Stahl were troubled by how digital their children’s worlds had become, and set out to develop an alternative form of entertainment.  

The duo created Tonies: a physical speaker system that, when paired with a specially-designed Tonies figure, would play audio content. The product helped kids engage with feel-good educational material and pique their imaginations through immersive storytelling.  

After launching in Germany, the brand quickly became one of the most popular toy brands in the country. Tonies has since expanded to the US, and partnered with both multi-national large-scale retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Pottery Barn as well as smaller, local retailers and toy shops. 

In search of a fulfilment provider with expertise in direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels and a large US network, Tonies partnered with ShipBob in 2021. Ever since, the brand has continued to grow and thrive in the US market, and delight thousands of kids around the world.   

We sat down with several members of the Tonies’ Operations team to discuss how they leverage ShipBob’s partnership and fulfilment and supply chain software to scale their brand.  

Innovating together to improve the customer experience

@tonies.us

This holiday, we hope you and your little one Discover Imagination with tonies® and remember that the best gift of the season, of the year, and of a lifetime, is the joy of imagination. Learn more about tonies® and the #screenfree #Toniebox Audio Player now at the link in our bio. 🎶📣✨

♬ original sound – tonies US

As told to ShipBob by Jessica Cedarleaf, VP of Operations at Tonies.  

In the last couple of years, we’ve evaluated our business to understand where we’re going and how we want to grow, and we’ve done it in partnership with ShipBob.

Our ecommerce website is our flagship business in the US, and it’s where we want our customers to go. The visibility of retail is great, but DTC is really where you can enhance the consumer experience, and we’ve done a lot with ShipBob to determine what we could feasibly and affordably do to improve the customer experience. 

ShipBob has been a great partner for us because they have the same “continuous improvement” mindset as we do. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our operations, keep our budget down while making the experience better for our customers, and ShipBob has been so open to that. They’ve helped us find ways to expand while achieving cost-savings, streamlining processes, and delivering quicker shipping services – they’re really teamed up with us to give our customers a great experience. 

“We love our team at ShipBob. They are so supportive and are truly an extension of our team – it’s not like an outsourced partner. It’s as if we’re one team, not two separate businesses. And we really lean on ShipBob for their supply chain expertise.”  

Jessica Cedarleaf, VP of Operations at Tonies

We’ve learned so much from ShipBob, and I think ShipBob has learned from us. I’ve worked with all sorts of partners, but the best ones have always been those where their team works really collaboratively with ours – and that’s how it feels with ShipBob. I legitimately work with ShipBob’s team every day, so that’s been a huge plus for me.  

Leveraging ShipBob’s real-time data & reporting as our source of truth  

I can’t say enough about ShipBob’s software and reporting capabilities. It really has made things easy for us to look at the data and make better decisions. Not all partners are set up that way – oftentimes when you’re using other providers’ technology, you have to pull the data yourself, and there’s a lot of work to be done on the back end. 

“I often brag about ShipBob’s software. We’ve actually shown it off to other software partners to say, ‘We want your system to tell us the things that ShipBob’s software tells us.’ You can tell that ShipBob’s platform was built with the mindset of making their customers’ lives easier.”

Ryan Steffenson, Senior Manager, Channel Operations at Tonies

ShipBob’s reporting is very robust and meets all of our needs. We get visibility into receiving, order volume, SKU availability – everything from inbounds and inventory transactions to individual order statuses (whether it’s on hold, in processing, an exception order, and other detailed descriptions).  

All this data is real-time, meaning that we’re always seeing the most accurate, up-to-date information. Having this real-time data is crucial for my team, so the fact that there’s not hours of lag time waiting for data to update is huge.  

“Our fulfilment data feeds into our ERP, but a lot of times, we’ll go to ShipBob’s dashboard because the data is instant and real-time. We know ShipBob’s data is accurate as of this minute, so we can utilise ShipBob’s software as our real-time source of truth.” 

Jessica Cedarleaf, VP of Operations at Tonies

Customising operations through flexible solutions  

ShipBob’s fulfilment solutions are remarkably flexible, especially compared to those of other fulfilment providers. A lot of 3PLs don’t have the ability to perform tasks or handle problems in multiple ways – it’s usually an all-or-nothing ultimatum because the systems are so rigid. But with ShipBob, we can manage our operations at a really granular level, and we love that.  

For instance, ShipBob’s platform allows us to split orders into multiple shipments on our own if we can’t have customers waiting too long. On multiple occasions, ShipBob’s team has even helped us prioritize which orders to split, and which to keep on hold to optimise based on impending inbound SKU availability.  

It’s so great to know we have the ability to be flexible in those situations, and to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. ShipBob’s solution isn’t an all-or-nothing one, and that’s allowed us to be successful and to keep our customers happier.  

@tonies.us

Joing us for #screenfree storytime with the new Spidey and His Amazing Friends Tonies for #Toniebox 📸 @The Harvey’s 🩵

♬ original sound – tonies US

Navigating peak season pressures with expert support 

When we started selling in the US, we were still adjusting to the learning curve and didn’t fully understand how seasonal our business would become. In working with ShipBob, they were able to help us understand what had happened with similar clients in the toy space during the holidays in previous years so that we were prepared for what’s to come. 

Now we know that our business is extremely seasonal – and when combined with our brand’s 50% year-over-year growth rate, it makes maintaining fulfilment a really hard challenge to tackle. But we can just send ShipBob’s team forecasts for order volume, and ShipBob makes sure there’s enough manpower to handle it without us having to manage anything. 

“ShipBob has proved that they can weather sudden and intense spikes in demand without compromising on fulfilment speed or quality. ShipBob’s ability to staff appropriately as demand ebbs and flows has been a huge advantage for us, especially during peak. It makes our lives so much easier, and we don’t have to worry about handling it ourselves.” 

Molly Noonan, Senior Manager, Supply Chain at Tonies

Peak seasons don’t always go smoothly, so we rely on ShipBob to help us handle disasters without disrupting service. We’ve had some perfect storms – when forecasts were off, there were weather delays, etc. – but our team and ShipBob’s came together to work some magic and make it happen. When things came down to the wire, ShipBob’s team was always there to support and problem solve with us, and we still managed to make it all go perfectly. 

During peak season one year, there was flooding in California, and things were a bit of a mess. We never expected or planned for our containers to be flooded – nobody thought we were going to be able to recover. But with ShipBob’s support, we were able to get our inventory live and online in time to meet the demand surge! We feel really good about how we handled that peak, and we could not have done it without ShipBob’s team. 

Read more about Tonies’ peak season experience with ShipBob here.

Scaling capabilities and channels with a single fulfilment partner  

“There are so many growth opportunities on the table for us – and because ShipBob offers so many different solutions and growth levers, we’re able to leverage our existing partnership to scale instead of having to go out and find different providers for every new expansion.” 

Jessica Cedarleaf, VP of Operations at Tonies

Being able to expand our business without having to look for new partners was huge for us – and ShipBob makes it possible. ShipBob has a growth mindset, and is constantly adding new features and capabilities that are super beneficial to us, so we haven’t needed to look elsewhere for the tools to scale.

For example, everybody expects Amazon-level shipping speeds and 2-day or next-day delivery. To provide that to our customers via ground shipping, we need to increase the number of fulfilment centres we use to reduce shipment time. Instead of partnering with a bunch of different providers that each have one or two warehouses, we can just distribute inventory across ShipBob’s dozens of US fulfilment centres.  

ShipBob’s Inventory Placement Program will even let us send all our inventory to a single hub, and use ShipBob’s algorithms to calculate and automate ideal regional distribution from there. My team wouldn’t have to do it themselves and we can trust ShipBob to get it right, which would be a huge time-saver.  

We’re going to start sending out Amazon subscription boxes using ShipBob’s Amazon Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) solution. We’ve already processed thousands of these orders and are getting more and more every month, so we’re really looking forward to managing it all through one provider. We’re even working to get some custom printed bubble mailers for those orders, which ShipBob can also support.  

Finally, to better service our smaller retailers, we’re considering leveraging ShipBob’s EDI dropshipping solution. ShipBob has a whole list of retailers that they can dropship to, and it’s something that we think they could do really well. Plus, with ShipBob’s ability to ship from multiple locations across the country, it’s kind of a no-brainer from a logistics standpoint.  

There’s just so many ways we can grow with ShipBob, and we’re excited to take advantage of all of them.  

What’s next for Tonies 

We’re continuing to focus on growing globally. The US is still a fairly new market for us, but we’ve made huge strides and we’ve only been in the market for a few years. We’ve made incredible progress in operations over the last year, and I don’t think we could have done what we did without the ShipBob team.  

Our team will keep finding creative solutions with our partners – including ShipBob! – to push to new global markets, and keep bringing joy to kids all over the world.  

Tonies’ team at ShipBob

Makenna Bell

Makenna is the Merchant Success Manager at ShipBob who supportsTonies.

Divey Gulati

Divey is the Co-Founder and COO of ShipBob, and serves as the Executive Sponsor for Tonies.

Shipton Bogle

Shipton is the Sr. Enterprise Account Executive who helped Tonies get started with ShipBob.

Get started with ShipBob

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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