January 4, 2024

Using same-day deliveries to ease the fulfillment load

Mai Vino works with small batch producers to make fine vegan wines. Their packaging reduces wine’s carbon footprint and keeps alcohol fresh for 30 days after opening.

We sat down with Mai Vu, Founder and CEO of Mai Vino, to learn how PrettyDamnQuick has saved their two-person team hours of manual fulfillment efforts. Conversation topics include: 

  1. How fulfillment done wrong can stunt your brand’s growth
  2. Why delivery transparency is the key to happy consumers
  3. The outsized value in streamlining same-day delivery

“PDQ has provided a major upgrade from our previous systems. We save at least 3–4 hours of work per week, which is crucial for our two-person brand. As we grow, the time savings are sure to multiply.” 

Phase 1: Ongoing Delivery Headaches

As a Brooklyn-based brand, Mai Vino sells DTC in 17 states with same-day eCom deliveries throughout New York City. Mai points out that same-day delivery has been enormously beneficial to her brand’s growth trajectory over the past 6-12 months in particular.

However, the brand’s same-day workflow soon became unsustainable in three ways. 

1. Non-Centralized Delivery Services

Before PDQ, the Mai Vino team juggled 3–4 disjointed providers and systems like FedEx and MetroSpeedy, a New York courier service — none of which could integrate with one another. 

This resulted in scattered processes and information, a fulfillment workflow that Mai recounts as “piecemeal” in its efficiency. There was simply too much for a small team to keep track of. 

2. Manual Workflows — And Room for Error

With these decentralized tools, Mai and her one full-time teammate had to manually input and manage all order info and delivery-related customer service requests. 

This was on top of all the other priorities they had to tend to as a two-person startup. Mai admits, plain and simple, that this setup resulted in hours wasted and the occasional errors. 

While being pulled in dozens of directions, one of them might: 

  • Forget to close out an order
  • Cut and paste the wrong Excel data
  • Mix up an order’s address or contents

In other words: This non-automated system carried by two people would not be scalable. 

3. Inability to Offload Fulfillment

Along those lines of non-scalability, the Mai Vino team found their fragmented fulfillment system was just too complicated to efficiently hire someone, train them, and offload these workflows. 

Simply, they couldn’t risk more mistakes by involving a less experienced team member. 

“As a two-person company, we were constantly picking and packing — on top of everything else we do. You don’t have the time. So you might fumble orders.” 

Phase 2: Finding a Partner in PDQ

Mai was eventually introduced to PDQ through a potential investor. As she recalls:

“The PDQ team was super enthusiastic. They clearly wanted to help us out and make things work.” 

At the same time, she dreaded the headache of potentially testing out or paying for a system and drastically altering the customer experience — only to have it not work out in the end. 

However, Mai and her team knew that they needed to nail their same-day delivery workflow in order to scale up and service increasing demand, especially in metropolitan areas like NYC.

In response, the PDQ team kicked off onboarding by sitting down with Mai to identify the specific backend features related to same-day delivery that her business could benefit from. 

They subsequently implemented only those elements (plus some custom-built integrations, i.e., with MetroSpeedy) to ensure Mai Vino could avoid a complete end-to-end transition or overhaul. 

"The PDQ team has generously held our hands throughout onboarding, built out custom integrations for us, and tailored things so we only adopt what we need." 

Benefit #1: Streamlined Same-Day Delivery

Since that onboarding, PDQ has enabled Mai Vino to migrate and unify its various systems, from FedEx to MetroSpeedy to Shopify, for a centralized fulfillment base and fast same-day delivery.

The team no longer has to jump between platforms each time they assign a new order to a particular provider, print a label, input order data, close out an order, and so on and so forth. 

By streamlining and semi-automating nearly all of these functions within PDQ, Mai’s team has significantly lessened their operational lift and saved: 

  • Several hours of manual fulfillment labor per week
  • The lost revenue of slower, error-prone manual fulfillment

"Using PDQ has for sure removed an operational load. It's far easier to execute everything in one streamlined platform, rather than juggle a bunch of apps." 

Benefit #2: Limiting Human Error

This operational streamlining further enables the Mai Vino team to finally kick off the hiring search for someone to take over the brand’s fulfillment efforts. 

With PDQ, explains Mai, she’s achieved peace of mind on two fronts: 

  1. Training someone to use such an intuitive system will require little-to-no effort
  2. PDQ functions in a way that significantly limits human error — even by a brand new user

From Mai’s perspective, due to the value that same-day delivery drives for her business, it was of utmost importance that human error was limited in the process of optimizing fulfillment flows.

“With PDQ, we can finally hire someone to own fulfillment and same-day delivery processes. Because the tool is so streamlined and easy to use, I know we can quickly onboard and train someone in a few minutes. That value is immense.”

Benefit #3: Reliable, Transparent CX

PDQ has also enabled a more reliable and transparent fulfillment experience for Mai Vino's users. 

Customer interviews return positive feedback on the brand's same-day delivery.

She considers this user satisfaction critical due to one unfortunate reality of DTC fulfillment: If your carriers or providers mess up, your brand will take the heat for it. 

For instance, one former long-time customer of Mai Vino recently churned because their package kept getting delayed by FedEx. Ultimately, they chose to hold Mai’s brand responsible. 

Same-Day Delivery Transparency = User Satisfaction

As such, the transparency around PDQ’s integrated fulfillment process — on both Mai Vino’s and the buyer’s ends — along every step of the package’s journey is a monumental improvement. 

Mai summarizes relying solely on one's carrier (in her case: FedEx) for real-time updates as ineffective. Their outdated tech or processes aren't built for heightened visibility. With PDQ’s multi-carrier capabilities they now can easily manage or switch carriers to get the fastest and cheapest delivery method while delivering on the customer delivery promise.

“Users don’t see a difference between FedEx’s mistakes and our mistakes. People don’t always mind slow delivery. They just want to know what’s going on.” 

Benefit #4: Quantitative Growth

These qualitative benefits by PDQ have also driven metric growth for Mai Vino on three fronts. 

1. Retention Improvements

As acquisition costs continue to soar, it becomes more and more critical for brands to retain the consumers they do acquire. 

Retention reflects how you service users. Whatever best serves your customer — from browsing to delivery to post-purchase — then best serves your business in the long run. 

She counts PDQ’s fast-tracked fulfillment experience for users among those best practices. 

2. LTV & Order Frequency

Both first-time and returning Mai Vino customers often reach out over email, social media, and even chat forums to ask questions like: 

  • “When can I expect to receive my wine?” 
  • Or, “I’m throwing a party. How much wine should I order?” 

People understandably want to support your brand when they enjoy your product. However, more importantly, they need to feel they can rely on you if they’re to become repeat buyers. 

PDQ's transparency and reliable delivery promises have therefore fostered a wave of growing-LTV users for the brand, particularly those in the same-day delivery cohort.

These individuals choose to forgo their nearby liquor store and count on Mai Vino instead to get great wines to their doorstep for same-day dinners, parties, birthday gifts, and more. 

3. Customer Referrals

Subsequently, these aforementioned growth points result in more positive word of mouth and unofficial evangelization among Mai Vino's customer base. 

Each order that holds true to its delivery promise means one more user willing to share their positive product, service, and fulfillment experience with friends, family, or the broader Internet. 

“Acquisition is so expensive, we aim to retain as many people as possible. If we fail to service and support our users from end to end, they’ll break from us.” 

Takeaways: Transparency is Key

Learning from Mai Vino's fulfillment journey, Mai lists three key takeaways for founders: 

  1. Set clear and intentional user expectations for deliveries
  2. Be transparent in your progress in meeting those expectations
  3. Use whatever tools are available to deliver on those expectations

For instance, a Mai Vino order placed for same-day delivery likely won’t receive a tracking URL from the carrier until 4 or 5 PM, which could be hours after the order is placed.

To address this, PDQ automatically sends text alongside a user’s order confirmation, letting them know to expect the URL (and their purchased items) sooner rather than later. 

It’s a simple yet significant step in reassuring consumers that their same-day order wasn’t simply submitted and forgotten about. Again, Mai emphasizes that, at the end of the day, all customers want is a bit of reassurance – especially when they’re expecting their delivery asap.

“Today’s buyers are accustomed to two-day deliveries and live tracking. So just be transparent and execute on your delivery promises and you’ll be fine.” 

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