Anyone who owns an eCommerce business will tell you that the logistics of managing inventory, satisfying customers, and reducing both labor costs and order errors can be a real challenge. And it can be even more challenging—and even scary—when a business is started in a room in your house and you must invest all of your own money into it in order to succeed.
The vision and the product may come naturally. And at first, selling online and managing orders might be easy. But as you begin to grow and must manage more and more orders, you might find yourself needing help. How can you grow your business using manual processes? How do you become more operationally efficient while keeping customers happy? For brother and sister duo Jim and Maureen Keough, co-owners of Too Fast Apparel, the key challenges were integrating their retail and wholesale businesses into one system in order to eliminate double work in accounting, and managing their inventory and shipping while keeping margins profitable.
A Motley Crew in the Making
Too Fast Apparel is a manufacturer and retailer of punk, tattoo, pinup, and steampunk clothing as well as a reseller of name brand and hard to find merchandise. In 2005 this brother and sister duo started their two-person business in the basement of a salon. Everything they were creating was based on their love of punk rock as well as their rockabilly influence. Today, Too Fast Apparel is a well-known global brand with retail and wholesale operation. They sell their inventory online via their website—toofastonline.com—as well as on their members-only wholesale website. Their vision for producing unique, fashion-forward products and their incredible passion for creating great clothes and accessories proved an effective combination, but their path wasn’t always a smooth one.
As Too Fast Apparel began to see success, things turned chaotic for the sibling business partners. As they received more orders, Jim and Maureen quickly realized that they would need more inventory, more efficient order processing, and streamlined shipping processes. The manual processes they were using to run their business would no longer scale. Too Fast Apparel—and any growing merchant—eventually face the challenge of finding the right balance between minimizing operational costs and maximizing customer service and satisfaction. It soon became obvious that they needed a solution to address their most pressing needs.
Rockin’ and Rollin’
Since Maureen is the fashion genius behind Too Fast Apparel, Jim headed up the operational side. One of his first decisions was to implement a robust solution to support order management. According to Jim, “Managing inventory is probably the biggest benefit that [the software] has given us.” Almost immediately, Too Fast Apparel had the ability to manage inventory and orders, as well as fulfill and ship orders more efficiently; and Too Fast Apparel grew, well… fast.
Jim and Maureen gained efficiency through automation knowing that to profitably scale their business, they couldn’t simply add more labor. They continued to grow as they incrementally streamlined all aspects of their business, from inventory and order management, to fulfillment, shipping, and warehousing. They also saw an increase in customer satisfaction. When they were manually managing their inventory and orders, it was not only time consuming, but also is prone to errors. When orders take too long to ship or the wrong items are shipped, customer satisfaction suffers and repeat sales decline. However, the siblings gained more and more customer satisfaction and sales growth by eliminating their old manual processes and relying on their automated inventory management system to keep customers satisfied, ensuring orders are being processed in a timely fashion.
Business at One Speed: Too Fast
Too Fast Apparel always had a passion for delivering quality apparel products to consumers, with their own personal twist. Jim and Maureen quickly grew their business and realized they needed help managing the chaos of their business and ensure long-term growth. Too Fast Apparel found just that help in order management software and started to efficiently manage all orders from their retail website, wholesale website, and even tradeshows. Moreover, they moved from just storing inventory in their warehouse willy-nilly to a well thought out, operationally efficient layout of their warehouse including inventory locations, shelving layout, picking processes, and packing location. Once they were armed with these tools, they reduced their labor costs, nearly eliminated packing errors, and ultimately increased customer satisfaction.
Any online merchant or brick-and-mortar seller will tell you that the ultimate goal in business is growth, and the team at Too Fast Apparel is no different. They want to keep expanding into new markets, with possible distribution in China, Australia, Europe, and Canada. They would also like to branch off and create new brands focused on more mainstream products. Jim explained, “For us, the sky’s the limit. We’ve built our foundation with [our order management software] and now we can easily move forward with more channels.”
To learn more about Jim and Maureen and the ways in which Too Fast Apparel continues to expand and grow their business, visit the Too Fast Apparel Heroes page.
Heroes of eCommerce
Each month we’ll profile a new eCommerce Hero. Next month we will feature the husband and wife duo Will and Laura, amazing eCommerce sellers and co-owners of Accessory Export, LLC, a family-owned and operated mobile phone and tablet accessories company based in Southern California. Stay tuned… there’s a lot to learn from Will and Laura’s story.
Heroes are everywhere. They are growing. And they could include you. Learn how.