Move over Air Bud… Humphrey the French Bulldog may not be able to sink a three pointer, but he can sell dog accessories while saving the planet like it’s nobody’s business. Except, it is his business! Enter: Spotted By Humphrey — a specialty dog boutique with a playfully curated selection of thoughtfully-designed, well-made, premium dog accessories, which comes along with a promise of net-neutral climate emissions.
Spotted By Humphrey – “with its quirky name for a shop that has the personality to match” – is a community-driven online destination for dog parents around the world who are looking to find something special and unique for their dogs.
Humphrey aka Spotted Humphrey (@spottedhumphrey) has over 120K followers on Instagram, and is the inspiration behind the business, as founders Sandy and Yong-Soo Chung (also Humphrey’s parents) wanted to create a shop that would make the experience of shopping for your dog just as fun and community-oriented as Humphrey’s Instagram.
Naturally, social media plays a key element in the shop’s marketing strategy; however, both Sandy and Yong-Soo believe that their success largely comes from establishing a strong operational foundation, which ultimately creates a better experience for their customers.
Having founded his own ecommerce shop Urban EDC Supply prior to the launch of Spotted By Humphrey, Yong-Soo leveraged his existing ecommerce experience to establish Spotted By Humphrey, which Sandy has taken on and grown organically ever since. Yong-Soo eventually founded an all-encompassing ecommerce brand accelerator with the first ever net-negative carbon emitting 3PL in the industry, so every shipment that goes out actually benefits the planet instead of harming it.
“Frustrated by the lack of accountability and execution, I decided to take fulfillment in-house. First, we used another WMS other than ShipHero. It was slow, we had a lot of mis-shipments, and it was difficult tracking inventory. When I finally stumbled upon ShipHero, it was a game changer. The software was intuitive to use and it had a lot more features that made it easier to streamline our fulfillment operations.”Yong-SooFounder and CEO of GrowthJet
Yong-Soo utilizes ShipHero’s warehouse management software across his ecommerce brand accelerator, GrowthJet, along with his two internal brands, Spotted By Humphrey and Urban EDC Supply, a boutique everyday carry shop. So we asked Humphrey and Yong-Soo to ‘sit, stay and roll over’ what made ShipHero the right choice for his business.
ShipHero: Humphrey, tell us about your business(es).
Humphrey: OUAF OUAF!
SH: Ah, I don’t speak French. Yong-Soo, care to translate?
Yong-Soo: “In a nutshell, GrowthJet is an ecommerce brand accelerator with two internal brands, Urban EDC Supply (launched 2015) & Spotted By Humphrey (launched 2018).
Urban EDC Supply is an everyday carry shop with a strong focus on the EDC and knife community. We collaborate with world-renowned designers like Jesper Voxnaes to create stylish and functional everyday carry gear for our community of gear enthusiasts. Taking a page out of the streetwear clothing culture, weekly drops feature a limited supply of exclusive goods that sell out within hours, and sometimes minutes, or even a few seconds. While there’s a wide range of goods available for sale, some of these high-end collectibles can sell for as much as $2,000.
Spotted By Humphrey is a specialty dog boutique inspired by our french bulldog, Humphrey. As of today, Humphrey has 120k followers (@spottedhumphrey) on Instagram. We wanted to create a shop that would make the experience of shopping for your dog fun and community-oriented. Sandy and Humphrey made an appearance on the first episode of Shopify’s “Guess My Hustle” series (produced by Portal A, an award-winning digital studio), as well as Shopify’s “New Money” series (episode titled, “How To Make Money In The Million Dollar Dog Accessories Industry”).
Having built two fast-growing brands, in 2019, several colleagues approached us asking about our product photography, our fulfillment operations, and other e-commerce related ops questions. We decided to build and launch GrowthJet as the backbone infrastructure support to grow e-commerce brands. We’ve been growing very quickly through word-of-mouth ever since.”
SH: During your journey, you went from using a third party logistics (3PL) provider to fulfilling on your own. What was the catalyst for this switch?
Yong-Soo: “When I launched Urban EDC Supply back in October 2015 from my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, I did a tremendous amount of research on finding the best 3PL. After weeks of digging in, I settled on a 3PL that was based here in the Bay Area, and one that had the best reviews and ratings.
Unfortunately, I had one of the most frustrating experiences with this particular 3PL. I lost close to $5,000 worth of inventory due to negligence by the fulfillment staff. There was one particular instance where one of the employees opened up the box that was being shipped to my customer, took the item out, and then shipped out an empty box to my customer in Alaska. It turns out that this particular employee’s last day was the next day. When confronted with this news, the employee never returned to collect his final paycheck the next day.
Frustrated by the lack of accountability and execution, I decided to take fulfillment in-house.
SH: Sounds like they were in the doghouse, eh Humphrey?
SH: Too true, too true. So when you were searching for WMS solutions, what were your main fulfillment goals?
Yong-Soo: “When we took fulfillment in-house and launched GrowthJet, the main goals were to improve order accuracy through proper barcoding, speed up the process of fulfillment, and generally, have more accountability and insight into our shipment data.
For us, the [most important criteria] was our ability to have an open dialogue with our fulfillment center. When we needed something, calling a phone number and being greeted by a “voice mailbox is full” message is never fun. Neither is sending out an urgent support email and not receiving a response for over a week. So for GrowthJet, we made it a point to be transparent and open to communication. Also, the ability to flex and work collaboratively with the 3PL is an important part of what we do at GrowthJet.”
SH: And why did you choose ShipHero?
Yong-Soo: “First, we used another WMS other than ShipHero. It was slow, we had a lot of mis-shipments, and it was difficult tracking inventory. When I finally stumbled upon ShipHero, it was a game changer. The software was intuitive to use and it had a lot more features that made it easier to streamline our fulfillment operations.
Integrating ShipHero was relatively easy, especially with one of the Solutions Engineers Matt D. helping us.”
“First, we used another WMS other than ShipHero. It was slow, we had a lot of mis-shipments, and it was difficult tracking inventory. When I finally stumbled upon ShipHero, it was a game changer. The software was intuitive to use and it had a lot more features that made it easier to streamline our fulfillment operations.”
SH: Every ShipHero customer is assigned a Solutions Engineer to help simplify the onboarding and integration process because we look after our customers, dawg.
SH: So what was your inspiration for the climate neutral pledge, and how do you plan to become a Carbon Negative 3PL?
Yong-Soo: “When we launched GrowthJet, we realized how bad the waste and carbon footprint is for logistics and fulfillment. We think a lot about ecosystems not only for the environment, but the entire lifecycle of every item that comes through our warehouse including packaging materials, pallets, used equipment, etc.
We want to reduce as much as possible, then reuse, then recycle what we can before we decide to throw something away. Even then, we offset the carbon footprint of our garbage by purchasing carbon credits through ClimateNeutral.org.
On top of our Climate Neutral certification, we will be implementing our own tree-planting initiative in 2021. As far as we know, we will be the first carbon negative 3PL in the world. This means that for every package we ship out for our brand partners, we’re actually helping our planet fight against climate change. Counter-intuitive, isn’t it?
SH: Planting trees to help climate change, care to comment Humphrey?
SH: Surprisingly on topic. And what has been the response from your customer base?
Yong-Soo: “Overall, the response from our brand partners has been very positive. They love and appreciate our proactive commitment to saving our planet, rather than being part of the problem. We’re also different from most 3PLs in that we’re more selective about who we bring on as a partner. We want to make sure we’re aligned on values first and foremost. Like any relationship, it’s a two-way partnership. We have a bias for thinking long-term so we want to make sure there’s a fit first before making a long-term commitment.”
SH: Finally, how has your business been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns?
Yong-Soo: Our business actually saw an increase due to COVID. With e-commerce getting a huge boost, we were fortunate to be in a position of leverage during the pandemic. Of course, there were additional costs such as PPE equipment and being more cognizant of social distancing within the warehouse, but all in all, we feel very lucky to come out of the pandemic stronger than before.
SH: Amazing, thank you for sharing your story and allowing us to write this case study. Humphrey, final thoughts?
Humphrey: WOOF WOOF!
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