A look at how DCs are using equipment and services to rev up their operations
LEADERS AT ORAL ESSENTIALS NEED-ed a way to manage explosive growth in demand for the company’s products while also sticking to its core values: being good stewards of the environment and providing first-rate customer service. They found their answer in third-party logistics service provider (3PL) ODW Logistics, which has helped the natural oral-care products company improve its fulfillment processes, eliminate packaging waste, and reduce costs as it went from filling hundreds of orders per week to more than 10,000 a week over the past two years.
"We were looking to partner with an organization that could handle retail distribution and [direct-to-consumer] distribution," explains Joshua Rizack, president and COO of California-based Oral Essentials Inc., which makes the Lumineux Oral Essentials line of toothpaste, tooth whiteners, and mouthwash. "To us, the most important thing was the customer experience—the customer getting a package that looked good, that reflected our core values, and that got there in a reasonable amount of time."
ODW’s ability to provide a dedicated team to manage all aspects of the company’s fulfillment, including its direct e-commerce business and a growing number of accounts with some of the nation’s largest retailers, sealed the deal. Today, Oral Essentials outsources its entire fulfillment process to ODW and is reaping the rewards in better logistics operations and lower costs.
SATISFYING DEMAND, PROVIDING SOLUTIONS
Rizack joined Oral Essentials in 2019, when the company was still relatively small and filling orders out of a 4,750-square-foot warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. But things changed quickly, as demand for naturally derived products grew and the pandemic-related e-commerce boom of 2020 reshaped the consumer buying landscape. Oral Essentials began landing deals with large retailers such as Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Walgreens, while also dealing with a surging direct-to-consumer business. Its small warehouse couldn’t keep up. Company leaders wanted help managing the increased order volumes without scaling up and adding a lot of warehouse associates.
The company started shopping for 3PLs and worked with a few before developing an exclusive partnership with ODW. Keys to the deal: dedicated warehouse space and staff at ODW facilities in Southern California, and a solutions-based approach to improving logistics. It’s been just about two years since Oral Essentials moved its fulfillment operations to ODW’s facilities, and Rizack says the transition has been virtually seamless.
"They worked very closely with our people on how we did things," he says. "It was a very smooth transition. What I liked most of all is that when there was an issue, it was dealt with immediately."
That includes finding solutions to existing logistics challenges. ODW and Oral Essentials worked together from the start to develop programs that address productivity, sustainability, and cost-reduction goals. A case in point: new packaging that yielded an 18% decrease in shipping costs and 40% improvement in order processing. As Rizack explains, Oral Essentials wanted to reduce the size of its packaging as a way to eliminate waste and maximize storage space. ODW helped design a solution that utilized the smallest box possible for a product while also minimizing packing material inside the box. The result was a lighter package that takes up less space, helping the company maximize truckload shipments, reduce costs, and improve sustainability.
"We wanted to find solutions that [addressed] all these obstacles we were experiencing," Rizack says. "[The new packaging] reduced costs, saving us substantial amounts of money every month, and it’s better for the environment. As a company, we are always asking how we can be better stewards of the environment."
Providing such services is at the core of what ODW Logistics does, adds Casey Nofziger, ODW’s director of business development, who works closely with the Oral Essentials team.
"We are processing things out of the building daily, so we can see how there may be better ways to bag, box, or redesign things," he says. "We provide recommendations, but at the same time, we ask ‘What are your customers saying? What is the experience they are currently having?’ We gather the feedback and make improvements."
Emblazoned with the Lumineux brand name, the new packaging is designed for easy construction, an attribute that has helped free up labor for fulfillment activities. The change has reduced overtime and sped up the order fulfillment process, according to both Rizack and Nofziger.
PRAISING UNSUNG HEROES
Rizack emphasizes the profound effect a good logistics process has on an organization and says it’s something that often goes unrecognized. ODW is helping Oral Essentials develop new distribution strategies that will get products to customers faster, using the least fuel, and at the lowest overall cost, for example.
"You’re only as good as your weakest link. You can say how great your sales team is because they got you into Whole Foods, or your packaging team because of the beautiful package," Rizack explains. "But the person who never gets credit is the guy who gets [the product] in the box and gets it to the retailer. If that doesn’t happen, everything else that everyone has done is a waste of time. I can’t emphasize enough how important your logistics team is. They don’t get the credit they deserve."