~ 10 Years and Still Going Strong
Every time a package arrives at your doorstep, you are picking up a bit of logistical magic—a whole process of connecting companies of all sizes with customers throughout the world has occurred. Every type of product imaginable that can be ordered completes this journey. Who is behind one of the most, hidden but integral aspects of a product’s journey? Fulfillment companies. Especially in the new shopping environment of COVID-19 where more and more shopping is being done virtually and delivered directly to customers’ homes, fulfillment companies are playing an even more vital role in the retail space. In 2019, e-commerce in the U.S. increased by almost 15% to $601.75 billion (U.S. Department of Commerce). During the height of the COVID-19 related stay at home orders, e-commerce increased precipitously in March and April with a 129% increase over 2019. While the increase has flattened, the change in the retail landscape and shopping trends are expected to continue in the long term (Forbes).
Beginning in 2010, Beacon’s Warehousing & Fulfillment department has provided high-quality receiving, warehousing, pulling, packing, and shipping of orders to a variety of businesses all the while creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Customers range from start-ups to long-established small business owners to non-profits. Beacon’s fulfillment team ships around 15,000 packages annually from our Tucson based location. Already in 2020, Beacon has sent out 7,200 packages. “Bag It has been using Beacon’s warehouse and fulfillment services for over 8 years now. Great communication, organization and quick fulfillment has kept this relationship strong,” explains Annettra Farrington from the cancer advocacy and education non-profit Bag It .
Normally there are six workers in Beacon’s Warehousing & Fulfillment department including people with disabilities who are part of a Customized Work Team (CWT) with a full-time job coach. Anyone on the team must be able to train and utilize a range of skills such as interpreting inventory lists and locating products within the Beacon warehouse. Everyone on the team earns at least minimum wage. Generally, once a team member completes an initial training, he or she is able to work more autonomously with continued Beacon’s supports. Quality checks also occur throughout the process, which ensures that high quality is maintained and serves as a check-in to provide more training if needed.
Like many fulfillment companies such as Amazon, Beacon has also implemented a range of safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These new workflow logistics ensure proper social distancing and safe handling of fulfillment orders. Dave Johnson, Vice President of Operations at Beacon Group explains, “The pandemic has challenged our fulfillment business, as it has so many others. We are working hard to provide the absolute safest environment we can for our employees, while safely and efficiently getting our customers’ packages to their destinations.” Similar to other fulfillment companies, Beacon Warehousing & Fulfillment also experienced a rise in customer demand, having a record month with 1,700 orders in April 2020.
Although many of the business customers share similar needs, like each product, each company that utilizes Beacon’s fulfillment services has unique business needs which Beacon staff work diligently to accommodate. One such customer is Tyler’s Coffee, which began working with Beacon in 2018. Based in Tucson and founded by Tyler Ornstein in 2007, Tyler’s Coffee is the first no acid coffee with a customer focus on the individual who has a sensitivity to that acid. They have a proprietary roasting process, and Tyler’s Coffee sells to both individuals directly via their website and to retailers such as Amazon, Wal-mart.com, and Natural Grocers.
From its early days as a start-up, Tyler’s Coffee eventually grew out of their initial fulfillment process at their office space and limited capacity to complete orders with a single staff. They tried an out of state fulfillment company, but the cost was too high. Ornstein explains, “I was looking for a fulfillment center that meets my needs. When I found Beacon, it was a game-changer. Not only were they able to meet my needs, but they are a nonprofit who empowers people with disabilities through employment. Beacon handles my fulfillment, and we get to do a give-back. I am very honored to work with them.”
Beacon completes a number of fulfillment tasks for Tyler’s Coffee—unpacking and housing inventory, monitoring website orders, printing order sheets, and mailing labels, preparing and separating orders bins with packing slips and labels, and pulling orders and selecting appropriate boxes. For wholesale customers, Beacon also assembles boxes and similarly packs orders. QA checks happened throughout the fulfillment process. Working with Beacon has meant growth for Tyler’s Coffee as Ornstein explains, “Beacon has singlehandedly improved our time constraints. I am now able to go out there and make bigger and better deals with my clients because I know that everything is being handled on the backend and that I don’t have to worry about it at all really. And it has been an absolute blessing.”
With an internationally focused business, Hammock Bliss has been a fulfillment customer with Beacon for almost ten years, beginning in 2010. Hammock Bliss manufactures a variety of high-quality hammocks with a focus on camping hammocks. Originally based out of Tucson, Dov Frazer and his family now run the company from Sydney, Australia. Beacon is a major part of Hammock Bliss’ U.S. business. Orders come from Amazon, individual website sales, and also retailers. Beacon fulfillment supports Hammock Bliss in a variety of ways. Beacon receives orders via e-mail from Frazer, from the website, or directly from Amazon Packing slips are then printed. The CWT members pull the appropriate hammock from inventory and choose appropriate packaging. Once packaged, items are weighed and then labels affixed. Staff complete QA checks throughout.
Before choosing Beacon Warehousing & Fulfillment for Hammock Bliss, Frazer shopped around but found that Beacon offered a nice facility with a great set-up and reasonable prices. As Frazer explains, “One of the things I really like about Beacon is that it is air-conditioned or climate-controlled. It is incredibly clean and they maintain it that way. They have designated walkways where you are supposed to go and not go. They clean it up every afternoon. To me, the biggest difference of where I used to be and Beacon is climate control and it is super clean and meticulous. I really like that.” Beacon carries 45 SKU’s, stock-keeping unit or the scannable bar code on a product, for Hammock Bliss and also works with Frazer if there is ever a rush order. Frazer has been so satisfied with the level of service, that he recommended Beacon to a fellow business owner who also similarly runs his business from abroad. That business now works with Beacon Warehousing & Fulfillment for its U.S. customers.
About being able to simultaneously achieve the needs of his U.S. business while also helping to provide people with disabilities jobs, Frazer notes, “I need a fulfillment company anyway. So, if I can use a fulfillment company that does what I need to do at a reasonable price but also has the added benefit of helping people with disabilities, that’s a positive for my business. That’s also a positive for me personally because it is helping people who are able to do work that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise.” We couldn’t agree more.
See Beacon Group’s Commercial Custodial Services for more information. If your organization is interested in cleaning services, including the Protexus Electrostatic System, for enhanced cleaning to help protect against the spread of COVID-19, contact us at Cleaning@BeaconGroup.org or call (602)300-5016.
To learn more about Beacon’s Warehousing & Fulfillment department or to request a custom quote for your business, visit Warehousing & Fulfillment or call 520-622-4874 x 105