Inventory Management, Purchasing, Accounting, Demand Planning, WMS, Production
Subscription Box, Consumables
Universal Yums is a high-volume subscription box company that brings a unique collection of treats and candy from around the world to your doorstep every month. Each box is themed around a different country, and consumers can also buy individual treatsa la carte from the Yum Shop. At the time of onboarding with Fulfil, Matt Buonforte was the Controller for Universal Yums, and is now the Chief Operating Officer. Matt played a critical role in the successful onboarding of Universal Yums onto the Fulfil platform, which solved a variety of operational scaling challenges, and resulted in a 25X return on investment in their first year on the Fulfil platform alone.
While subscription-based businesses have obvious benefits, such as a larger LTV, they also bring their own set of unique challenges. For Universal Yums, these are amplified by the fact that each month’s box is unique, which requires careful planning far in advance of fulfillment. Universal Yums came to Fulfil looking for a solution to 3 Primary Challenges:
The Universal Yums team were operating out of a series of disconnected point solutions that all performed a specific activity, but weren’t integrated to share critical data between systems. This meant that any time the team would need information from different systems, it would require a manual, painful workflow involving exporting data from multiple sources, and consolidating it into a static spreadsheet.
As a specific example of this, the team’s financial information was spread across 3 different systems that were not integrated. This resulting export/import workflow was tedious and time consuming for Matt and his financial team to spend hours completing on a monthly basis.
“Accounting wise - I used to have to dump a ton of data from different systems to try and reconcile things together. The end of month reconciliations were a nightmare.”
The nature of a unique monthly subscription box means that the Purchasing team needs to place all Purchase Orders at least 6 months in advance of when the box gets shipped to a customer. To accomplish this, a careful Demand Planning workflow has to be followed which relies on accurate input data. Prior to Fulfil, not only did Universal Yums lack a single source of truth, but the separate systems often had conflicting information..
Finally, even when the Purchase Orders were able to be placed, the Purchasing and Finance departments did not have a place to store, and subsequently enforce, payment terms with suppliers. With 100s of suppliers around the world, and 1000s of open purchase orders to keep track of at any time, manually tracking this information was incredibly difficult.
The lack of a single source of truth for operational data had an extensive impact on Universal Yums across multiple departments, and they needed a solution.
The Universal Yums picking team needs to balance two very unique workflows - the high volume, monthly subscription box that comes in a wave, as well as the lower volume, but more frequent, Yum Shop orders. Each requires a different methodology to complete, and careful checks and balances to ensure the right product gets sent to the right customer.
However, the Warehouse team was stuck using a paper-based picking system which significantly impacted the productivity of the Pickers. Not only was it difficult to work with the paper-based workflow, but the lack of scanning as a control throughout the process resulted in a higher volume of mis-picks.
“Prior to Fulfil, Picking in the warehouse was a slow process that bogged us down - it was costing about 15% of our revenue for the pick/pack process alone.”
Effectively tracking the specific inventory movements for subscription boxes from:
Receiving → Overstock → Pickable Bins → Packing → Shipping
is an extremely difficult process, especially when dealing with a high volume of unique subscription boxes that contain a large number of sub-components.
In reality, these boxes follow a pre-production workflow, which means that inventory should be subtracted on a live basis as the boxes are individually assembled according to their bills of materials (BOMs). However, the previous software did not have the support for Production BOMs, which meant that they were forced to do periodic bulk adjustments for large sections of inventory, rather than keeping a real-time inventory log. This meant that their team never had live visibility into their inventory numbers, and couldn’t fully trust the data that was in their system.
Working with Fulfil, Universal Yums now has a single source of truth for all of their operational data. This starts at the demand planning stage, continues through to receiving supplier shipments, and culminates in the product getting picked, packed, and shipped via customer shipments.
Throughout this process, each team has access to the data that they need, within a single system. If the Demand Planning team needs to look at the sales velocity of a specific SKU, and compare that against incoming supplier shipments, that’s now centralized into a single system. Similarly, the accounting team avoids the painful, manual month-end reconciliation process, using Fulfil’s built-in accounting and financial capabilities.
In summary, centralizing Universal Yums’ data into a single system has:
⬇️ Decreased the amount of repetitive, manual data crunching that’s required.
⬆️ Increased the team’s confidence in the accuracy of the data.
Switching from the old paper-based picking to Fulfil’s mobile-friendly, paperless picking workflow, has decreased Universal Yums fulfillment overhead costs from 15% of GMV, down to only 8%. When looking at just this improvement alone, this represents a 25X return on investment in their ERP within the first year.
Previously, picking a single order could take as long as 20 minutes, which meant that it wasn’t possible to keep up with all of the orders on a daily basis. Now, every single order that’s placed is shipped out within the same day, with far less mis-pick errors and a much simpler, paperless workflow.
An additional benefit of using handheld picking for their warehouse management system, instead of printing out static pick lists, is that it allows Fulfil to optimize pick paths and batches in real time. Now, if new inventory is added to the system, or a specific bin is replenished, or a large number of new orders come in all at once, Fulfil will intelligently update the pick paths and batches in real time based on this live data.
Universal Yums uses Fulfil’s Production BOM capabilities to track in real time as inventory is used to create the finished goods subscription boxes. Whereas previously inventory management was a retroactive task that was done in bulk, inventory is now tracked in real time as the inputs (individual candy) are used to create the output (a box filled with delicious treats).
This newfound confidence in their inventory management workflows has enabled the team to launch their first ever expansion on the subscription box product line, as they dive into an entirely new market - tea! Almost Tea is a product line that Matt and the team have been working on for months, and which previously would not have been possible without being able to trust the accuracy of the purchasing and inventory data in their system.
Since partnering with Fulfil, Universal Yums has:
When Matt first started the search for an ERP, it was quite frankly not something he was looking forward to. An ERP implementation can be a large undertaking, and require careful change management to successfully execute. However, after finding Fulfil and looking back at the first year working together, Matt and the team have unlocked levels of productivity and efficiency that they didn’t think possible.
“Working with Fulfil during the onboarding process was a breath of fresh air, knowing there was a timeline and a dedicated team to work with.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how Fulfil can help you manage your inventory, consolidate your data, and transform your pick/pack/ship team, book a demo with our team!
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