When the team behind San Francisco-based startup Ficks and Co. launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in October 2013 to offer a presale of its nutritionally enhanced cocktail additives, they were both thrilled and daunted by the response.
“We got 700 orders from 18 different countries, which was great, but we were running in circles trying to figure out how to package and ship everything,” recalls Ficks’ CEO Ron Alvarado. “Were we going to have to go to the post office with 700 boxes? We just had no idea what to do.”
As Alvarado and his team quickly learned, while new sales are great, entrepreneurs have to figure out how to fulfill orders efficiently. If you don’t meet your customers’ expectations when it comes to those new sales, your small business will suffer. The risks include: not capturing initial goodwill; losing potential brand advocates; and jeopardizing future repeat sales.
The Ficks team knew they didn’t have the expertise (or the time) in-house to prevent those problems. So, they turned to social media and tweeted UPS®, asking for help in shipping its product both domestically and internationally. A UPS representative responded almost immediately, which led to a UPS CONNECT whiteboard session to learn about Ficks’ needs and to brainstorm solutions, Alvarado remembers. Since then, the UPS CONNECT team has functioned as a dedicated partner to Ficks, helping it operate efficiently and cost-effectively.
That first whiteboarding session with UPS CONNECT was integral to Ficks’ strong launch, Alvarado says. The company’s three business partners were connected remotely. In that session a UPS CONNECT logistics expert identified their main problems and walked through the different services available to address them.
The whole package
“They explained things about packaging, shipping, logistics and customs that were completely unknown to us. The whiteboarding session was so proactive because it started a dialogue with them immediately, rather than going back and forth over email or trying to find information in their website,” Alvarado says. “It saved us a lot of time and money right from the start.”
Today, as Alvarado’s company has expanded, so has his relationship with UPS CONNECT. After securing a retail presence in Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom, Ficks has moved into freight shipping as well, and he says UPS CONNECT provided the same service and support to get those operations launched, from packaging and routing to palletizing orders.
Now Ficks is expanding globally, and the company is getting that same kind of advice from UPS CONNECT, not only setting up systems to streamline international shipping but also leveraging its own network of experts to connect the Ficks team with other industry resources.
Anticipating the unexpected
“They’ve made all of the right contacts for us to learn about the complications that can happen when you go international, which was incredibly helpful,” Alvarado says.
But while the expert advice and business insights are important, it is the dedicated service and support that Ficks counts on.
“They’re like members of our team in that we know we can call them and we’ll get a quick response with an answer to a question or advice about the best way to proceed,” Alvarado says. “They've been there for us through every stage of our growth, and they're always there to help us, which is something we absolutely need.”