Did you know that US consumers will spend $933.30 billion on ecommerce in 2021 alone? Whether it is from convenience, the ability to price shop and compare items directly, folks staying home from COVID concerns, free delivery or more, online shopping is king. With this huge shift to online spending, customers are looking for fast and reliable shipping and great customer service, in addition to a great product. As a company grows, how can they still provide this while growing their customer base? That is where fulfillment centers like PackYak in Salt Lake City come in! Keep reading to learn more from our September Business of the Month and newest client here:
UMLF: For those who aren’t in the know, who is PackYak? What do y’all do?
PackYak: PackYak is an eCommerce fulfillment company. We integrate eCommerce merchants’ online storefronts with our warehouse management software, receive products from their manufacturers, process and store their inventory, and upon an order being placed, we pick the appropriate product, package it, and ship it off to the end-consumer. What sets us apart is our hands-on approach and transparent billing practices. We provide immediate support to our clients via dedicated Slack messaging channels so that they can have unparalleled control and transparency over their product while still outsourcing the operations, fulfillment, and warehousing side of their eCommerce business. We also make it a point to be very upfront and clear about everything a customer will be billed for when they partner with PackYak, which, believe it or not, isn’t as common as you would think in our industry.
UMLF: Tell us about your team and your backgrounds?
PackYak: PackYak has four owners with extensive fulfillment and eCommerce experience. Erik is an Information Systems graduate from the University of Cincinnati, a serial entrepreneur, and cryptocurrency enthusiast. He has an extensive background in sales, marketing, music, epic campfire stories, and eCommerce. Grant is a Belmont University Marketing graduate, an attorney, musician, web designer, and content creator. Sean is a graduate from Wayne State’s Detroit School of Business with extensive sales experience at two Fortune 100 companies prior to founding PackYak. Sam went to Northern Kentucky University for Business Administration and has worked at numerous startups, focusing on marketing, operations, and client relationships.
UMLF: When should a business consider utilizing fulfillment services?
PackYak: A business should consider utilizing fulfillment services when they’ve reached a point where they have more online orders than they can keep up with on their own, are paying too much for shipping labels, or simply just don’t want to undertake the costs associated with acquiring more space and staff to manage the warehousing and fulfillment side of their business. A lot of people don’t realize that partnering with a fulfillment service can afford them way faster delivery times as well as lower shipping rates than they’re currently paying. Partnering with a fulfillment center like PackYak lets eCommerce business owners focus solely on growing and marketing their business instead of spending countless hours with a small staff just trying to keep up with large order volumes.
UMLF: What are some of the types of companies you fulfill for?
PackYak: We provide fulfillment for all kinds of companies all over the world! We have customers based in Thailand, the United Kingdom, Salt Lake City, and beyond. Primarily, we partner with eCommerce brands that ship small parcel items, but we have solutions for customers with larger parcel items as well. We currently have partners that sell apparel, workout devices, bluetooth speakers, decorative pins and patches, and more. We are open to working with eCommerce entrepreneurs from all walks, and pride ourselves on being able to provide custom-tailored solutions for our clients so that everyone comes out on top.
UMLF: Customer service seems key to your company’s core values. What are some of the ways you achieve this?
PackYak: Customer service is an absolutely critical aspect of our business and something we really pride ourselves on. In fact, it’s a large part of why we went into business. You can read countless horror stories from eCommerce business owners that partnered with a fulfillment center and had it go poorly - they can end up with enormous bills full of hidden fees they had no idea about, mis-shipped orders, and damaged or lost products. A recurring complaint is that they never had good communication with their fulfillment center and never really knew what was going on with their account. When we decided to start PackYak, we knew that this was the solution we wanted to solve. Most large fulfillment centers treat every customer with the same cookie cutter approach, which seems crazy to us at PackYak since we believe every business is a unique entity with very different needs. The way we solve the customer service problem in fulfillment is by setting up a dedicated Slack channel when we onboard customers so they can instantly communicate with the PackYak representative that is going to manage their account. We respond to all communications same-day and it's been an incredibly effective way for us to manage customer requests, questions, and special projects. Our customers love it, and it really helps us stay up to date with all of our client’s wants and needs.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
PackYak: To start PackYak, our four founders moved from across the country into an Airbnb in Salt Lake City, knowing that this was where we wanted our business to be based. Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, things got a little bit tricky for us. Our first two weeks in Utah looked like this: two of our founders contracted Covid-19, we had two warehouse locations fall through on us, and the pipes burst in our Airbnb rental and damaged a lot of our belongings. We would be lying if we said things weren’t a little bit dicey to start out - we worked long hours under stressful circumstances, but by staying persistent, we were able to get our first warehouse under lease and even signed our first two customers very soon after.
UMLF: How do you feel like the Utah Microloan Fund has helped your business?
PackYak: The UMLF has been an incredible lifeline for us at PackYak. One of our biggest upfront expenses are shipping costs - which can pile up really quickly in our business. The UMLF provided us with an invaluable reserve to cover unexpectedly high shipping costs, some additional funding to help purchase some of the racking for our warehouse, and funds to increase our advertising budget so that we can acquire new customers. Without the funding support, our business would be on a much slower growth trajectory than we are now. After just a couple of months in business, we are thriving and are on track to do well over $1 million dollars in revenue in year one.
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