United by Blue started in 2010 as a brick and mortar store on a mission to design and sell products made from sustainably sourced materials.
In 2013, they expanded their business model to include ecommerce and used their reach to inspire community cleanup initiatives across the country. Their goal is to use their products and platform to encourage individuals to live less wasteful lives.
To further their mission, United by Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product purchased.
During the height of the pandemic, United by Blue scaled back their internal purchase orders. They began toying with the idea of dropshipping and wondering whether it could be a viable part of their strategy. They decided to use the dropship model to start conversations with fresh brands and float new products without taking on additional inventory.
“Dropshipping was easily justifiable as COVID hit everyone’s supply chains in pretty profound ways,” said Daniel Taylor, Omnichannel Merchandiser at United by Blue. “We began reaching out to vendors who wanted to unload excess inventory based on the uncertainty of how the year would play out.”
At first, they began targeted dropship launches with each brand in the way that worked best for the supplier. This was a hands-on process that typically resulted in manual inventory and order management methods. As suppliers provided inventory through CSV files and emails, data entry, keeping up with product availability, and preventing stock outs became an issue.
United by Blue turned to Flxpoint to ease some of the challenges of managing a dropshipping business, including sourcing products from multiple vendors. Soon, they were using the Flxpoint platform to initiate conversations with brands around integration.
They had a unique perspective of what they were asking of their brands when suggesting they integrate through Flxpoint.
“When onboarding as a vendor for another Flxpoint client, our ops team was impressed by the easy integration process. We thought it would be a pleasant pitch to partners to say, ‘here’s how easy it is to set up,’ having done so from the other end,” said Daniel.
United by Blue connects to its brands in various ways, including CSV and API integrations, as well as using brands’ Shopify stores as sources. The vendors utilize Shopify locations, multiple pricing structures, tags, and collections to control the products they wish to give United by Blue access to.
“Using Flxpoint, we’ve been able to successfully react to the specific needs of each of our partners. It feels like there’s enough flexibility to determine a suitable workaround if they don’t want to do things a certain way.”
Integrating with vendors and automating inventory and order management processes have afforded United by Blue significant time savings. “Before, our customer experience manager was tasked with sending order and tracking information emails to customers in addition to his regular duties. Now, all of those emails are automated.”
United by Blue can now focus more on partnering with factories with ethical manufacturing standards to create and sell products with purpose. The addition of the dropship model helps United by Blue put their sales goals over the top.