May 7, 2024

Why Begin Health switched from ShipStation to PrettyDamnQuick

The best fulfillment partners deliver on scalability, support and design. 

Take it from the team at Begin Health, the science-forward digestive health company for kids, who made the switch to PDQ after struggling with an antiquated, impersonal fulfillment & shipping software platform. 

Our conversation covers topics like: 

  1. The company’s tricky search for a dedicated order-to-delivery partner
  2. PDQ’s white-glove service and eagerness to innovate on client needs
  3. How PDQ modernized and streamlined their workflow in a rural warehouse

"Begin Health is growing fast. We needed a partner who's willing to match our pace and innovate alongside us. PDQ has been that partner." 

The Early Days: Vendor Frustration

Like many eCommerce teams, Begin Health started using an industry standard for fulfillment and shipping (in their case, it was ShipStation) because it was the norm. 

Unfortunately, Madeline had to learn firsthand that many tech design standards have grown antiquated. 

She was buying labels manually from Shopify, and wanted to upgrade to ShipStation, but quickly ran into trouble, having technical issues and more confusion.

The drag was unbearable, so Madeline reached out to ShipStation support. 

Sadly, they wouldn't provide a contact email or an account manager. All inquiries were referred to generic support, which meant impersonal solutions. 

Value Alignment is Essential for Partners

Madeline eventually learned that most of these issues were due to ShipStation’s recent acquisition by a private equity firm. They were reaping the benefits of ShipStation’s cash flow without investing in its development. 

Aside from the logistical frustrations, this was highly incompatible with Madeline's tech ethos. 

Put simply, she cares about “pretty tech.” How clean a product looks and the quality of the user environment it provides are both game-changers. 

ShipStation felt like the antithesis of this, with its clunky, stagnant user experience. 

It was definitely the wrong match for Begin Health, who were looking to scale soon and fast. 

"Trying to get support from ShipStation felt generic and impersonal. It didn't feel like they were invested in us at all, which was what we were looking for." 

Finding an Equally Innovative Partner in PDQ

For their next fulfillment/delivery partner, the Begin Health team needed a vendor who’d be willing to innovate and grow alongside them. 

In other words, they’d have to match pace with a scrappy startup. 

ShipStation's lack of urgency to provide support showed they weren't the ones for the job and the product updates they did roll out weren’t helpful.

Madeline spoke to another founder in her network who highly recommended PDQ.

From there, she checked out our site and noted three things: 

  1. We encapsulated her definition of “pretty tech”
  2. We were also scaling rapidly as an enablement tech startup
  3. We’d just closed a hefty seed round, so we’d be hungry to keep growing

She figured it was worth it to give PDQ a shot and reach out — and she’s glad she did. 

PDQ Enables Seamless & Scalable Fulfillment Workflows

With PDQ, Madeline describes Begin Health's fulfillment workflow as "thoughtful and beautiful." 

It’s a clean-cut, three-step process: 

  1. Their support agent verifies and batches the orders daily
  2. Their warehouse workers come in and handle all the open batches
  3. They print the orders directly, create a manifest, and prepare for carrier pick up

Begin Health does this every day, and it works smoothly for them. 

On the rare occasion that the systems gets buggy (i.e., if labels aren’t printing correctly), Madeline notes that the PDQ team will jump right in to troubleshoot. 

Overall, they love running their own warehouse in a tech-enabled, modern way. 

While the Begin Health team uses Slack and all the typical baseline tools of a startup, their warehouse is located in rural Illinois. As such, it’s been impressive to see PDQ bring the latest tech to such a remote area. 

As for the interface itself, Madeline enjoys PDQ’s UI/UX because their design front is highly streamlined — one of the key points that drew her to our product in the first place. 

After all, comfortable, effortless tech integration is essential to keep scaling Begin Health. The company intends to grow a ton in the coming years. 

Easy enablement will be vital to make that happen. 

"We love that we can run our warehouse in a tech-enabled, modern way. It's in rural Illinois, so it's cool that we have the latest tech running our platform there." 

PDQ Innovates to Meet Every Client’s Unique Needs

Madeline emphasizes the fact that PDQ supports Begin Health at every step along the way. 

She loves how our team prioritizes responsiveness and accessibility for clients. PDQ reps are on Slack with the Begin Health team at almost every hour, which makes her feel as if our companies are mutually investing in one another. 

Working with PDQ is a genuine partnership, she explains, because both sides wind up meeting halfway and growing together. 

She’s especially seen this in PDQ’s willingness to innovate and develop and roll out improvements based on Begin Health’s deeper needs and feedback. 

How PDQ Develops Bespoke Shipping Solutions

As an example of a unique pain point, Begin Health’s fulfillment team was struggling with their daily shipping manifests, which outline international package contents for customs officials. 

This was PDQ’s first time working with a client who required these daily reports. 

Even more, they’re essential to Begin Health’s ability to function. Post offices won’t accept certain shipments without them. So, the PDQ team spent the next few weeks researching the issue. We were adamant about building a potential solution for Begin Health. 

And PDQ did just that, adding a feature that can easily generate shipping manifests. 

For Madeline, this feedback and iteration process demonstrated PDQ’s commitment to both constant innovation and improvement as well as meeting client needs down to the detail. 

"The PDQ team is always incredibly responsive. That feeds into the real feeling that we're almost two companies investing in each other." 

How Your End Customers Benefit from PDQ

Beyond the admin side, PDQ provides end customers with visibility into their deliveries that existing fulfillment tech has long lacked. 

Madeline points out that great fulfillment doesn't just deliver packages faster. 

Once the package is handed over to the post office, it’s out of your control — and that process will inevitably include events like weather delays or even a misplaced package especially during the Holiday Season. 

In the past, Begin Health would only know something had gone wrong fulfillment-wise when a customer called them up to complain about a package that never arrived. 

Now, the team benefits from PDQ’s real-time tracking and visibility into delivery progress. They can be proactive instead of reactive, eliminating doubt while keeping customers updated and customers really appreciate this.  

Of course, this level of communication and transparency — enabled by PDQ — allows Begin Health customers to both enjoy an easier, more predictable delivery experience and feel as if Begin Health is looking out for them. 

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