AÏYA CANDLE CO is a luxury candle brand founded by Influencer and Creative Strategist, Hayet Rida. From citrus to smoked vanilla, the delicate scents are designed as companions for creating grounding daily rituals. On the fulfillment side, the candles are encased in fragile glass and high-end packaging, so the team needed a 3PL who could deliver the brand experience to match the elegance of their product.
Here’s their story as told by Director of U.S. Operations and Customer Service, Erin Johnson.
When we first started AÏYA we had an ambitious launch date and couldn’t find a 3PL in time, so I started shipping orders on my own. We ordered all of the packaging and stored the product in my home, and very quickly the limitations of DIY fulfillment became clear. The process was taxing and took a lot of time.
Because candles are fragile to ship, everything had to be carefully bubble wrapped, and we have lots of custom packaging from the box and candle container to crinkle paper and stickers. I would spend at least 20 hours each week assembling orders, and we had to eventually hire someone part-time to help out with fulfillment. With our elaborate unboxing experience, it eventually became too much to handle this on our own.
When we were looking for 3PLs we learned that selecting a warehouse location far from our manufacturer would result in very expensive freight fees. This narrowed our search to California-based warehouses. We eliminated options that had smaller operations because we needed a 3PL who could keep up as we scale.
As we continued our search, we were met with lots of rejection because most warehouses wouldn’t let us use all of our custom packaging. Some would let us use our custom boxes, but not crinkle paper, or wouldn’t accommodate as much kitting as we needed. The branded experience we deliver to our customers is crucial for us, and only one other warehouse besides Airhouse was willing to do it all. At the end of the day, we needed a partner who could accommodate our packaging, had competitive rates for storage and shipping, and could deliver orders with speed.
“Most warehouses we spoke with wouldn’t use all of our custom packaging. Airhouse does, and consistently follows our packaging guidelines so that everyone gets the same brand experience when ordering from us.”
Once we signed with Airhouse, fulfillment instantly became a lot easier. For our first product release, fulfillment alone ate up over half of my week. Now all I do is check the Airhouse app every once in a while. Beyond saving us a ton of time, Airhouse has unexpectedly cut down on our costs, too. Outsourcing with Airhouse is much cheaper than paying for storage, hiring people to ship, and managing overall fulfillment.
Because our team is spread across the globe, it’s great that I can easily manage orders in the Airhouse app, and we can all get visibility into our operations as needed. Other 3PLs didn’t offer the same visibility that the Airhouse dashboard provides, so if I wanted to get inventory information I would have to track someone down at the warehouse, which isn’t practical or a good use of time.
Additionally, Airhouse’s high level of customer service is unusual in the 3PL space. For example, at one point we had a brief issue with manufacturing. The wax in a batch of candles was too soft, and since I couldn’t physically get there to inspect our product, I needed help with quality control. To investigate this issue our Account Manager promptly sent pictures as needed from the warehouse, and double-checked inventory for us to resolve the issue.
Since we’re outsourcing fulfillment for the first time, there are some gaps in our knowledge on what’s normal when it comes to logistics, especially with things changing all the time due to the pandemic. On the support side, we regularly receive valuable advice on what to keep an eye out for. This year, we were glad we could incorporate Airhouse’s advice on holiday shipping into our planning.
To date with Airhouse, our customers have only had positive things to say. They comment on the fast shipping and because our founder is an influencer, we get tagged on social media when customers receive their orders. It’s great seeing that the warehouse so consistently follows our packaging guidelines, so everyone gets the same brand experience when ordering from us.
Currently, we have two core candles in rotation, but we’re excited to be adding many new products soon. As we continue building the brand, we have peace of mind knowing that Airhouse is there for us.
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