For most brands, winning endorsement from Kim Kardashian, with her 290 million Instagram followers, is the stuff dreams are made of. For oral cosmetics brand Snow, the Kardashian seal of approval is one in a long line of celebrity recommendations, including from film stars such as Chris Pratt, TV legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, and a host of NFL players.
Needless to say, being backed by A-listers catapulted Snow, best known for its transformative teeth whitening kits, into the mainstream and cemented its status as a mid-market retailer and a household name in America, with sales topping $100M a year.
However, even without its celeb fans, the multichannel, Shopify Plus-powered brand was destined for phenomenal success. It was launched by Josh Snow in 2017 with just one SKU and a powerful vision to innovate and disrupt the stagnant oral cosmetics industry.
Snow quickly secured retail placements at America’s biggest stores, including Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Walgreens, and expanded its product line to include toothpaste, wireless whitening systems, and charcoal floss — earning millions of loyal customers in the process.
However, behind the brand’s pearly white exterior and 90 percent year-over-year growth, there was operational chaos.
“When the pandemic hit and dental offices were forced to close, consumers went online to look for oral health products they could trust — and our direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) demand went through the roof,” said Trevor Martin, Snow’s vice president of operations. “Our systems were siloed, we had no automation in place, and there were spreadsheets plugging lots of gaps. We were frequently running out of stock and upsetting our customers, who sometimes had to wait up to eight weeks for items to arrive. It was at that point that I was brought in to come up with a solution.”
With tons of operational experience under his belt, Martin's top priority was to implement a cutting-edge retail operations system (ROS).
“I needed an ERP-like system that could consolidate all the aspects of our business into a single source of truth on a much more stable platform," Martin noted. "I wanted visualization at our fingertips and more control over the business in general.
“I carefully analyzed 22 different solutions before deciding on the right option for us. Brightpearl came out on top. As a fast-growing D-to-C brand that's constantly innovating and pushing forward, I was determined to partner with a provider that had the same values — and Brightpearl could deliver on that front, too.”
There were three standout features that confirmed Brightpearl was the right operational solution for Snow:
- A powerful automation engine, which saves the average customer two months every year and reduces errors by 65 percent.
- A demand planner, which factors in peak periods and promotions to accurately forecast stock requirements. Snow was desperate for a solution to its frequent stock-outs that were frustrating its customers. Brightpearl’s Demand Planner has successfully eliminated all stock-related issues by providing clear, consistent forecasting, which has also boosted customer experience.
- A library of plug-and-play integrations, which offers instant connectivity to a range of apps and tools, including Shopify Plus, which powers Snow’s D-to-C website.
Like Pulling Teeth
Martin weighed the option of using a traditional ERP, but found there were unnecessary layers of complexity. Meanwhile, lower-end solutions like order management systems (OMS) were unable to offer the functionality and handle the volume of orders Snow was dealing with.
“I know from experience that implementing classic ERPs can take 18 months, cost £200,000, and still ultimately fail," said Martin. "And self-guided implementation that comes with cheaper options is far too risky; I wouldn’t recommend going that route. Brightpearl sat somewhere in between both options, with all the functionality we needed plus expert-managed implementation.
“I decided on Brightpearl at the start of Q3. I was determined that it would be up and running before the start of Q4, which is our peak season, so I needed a turnaround time of less than three months.
“The worst thing you can do as a growing retailer is get into an implementation that fails. The pre-peak season deadline was a risk for us, but we trusted the Brightpearl team and it stepped up to make it happen. Despite being under significant time pressures, we felt fully supported from start to finish. Implementation with Brightpearl is handled by experts, and it shows. We consequently had our best Q4 ever!”
Something to Smile About
Since having Brightpearl in place, Snow has been able to consolidate its systems and multiple channels, including Shopify Plus and Amazon.com, into one central system.
Like all Brightpearl customers, Snow has benefited from advanced, real-time reporting, which makes it easier and faster to make data-driven decisions.
The automation engine has dramatically sped up workflows. This meant that even during Snow’s peak season, the brand could maintain same-day dispatch. It’s had a profound impact on customer experience, too, with customer ticket wait times cut from 14 days to just 12 minutes.
“Brightpearl’s automation engine transformed how we manage peak — it was incredible how it sped up our time to ship," said Martin. "Without the automation engine, I would have had to double our warehouse and operations staff. It would have been a nightmare. Brightpearl saved us tens of hires.
“The demand planner has also been phenomenal for us. It factors in seasonality so that we can look at the data and instantly say ‘OK, we need to order 100,000 of that item, not 10,000 — otherwise we’re going to run out in two months.'
“The plug-and-play integrations with apps, tools and 3PL providers have helped us realize key savings on shipping as well as iron out issues within our supply chain. And Brightpearl has quickly set up some custom integrations for us, too. You just don’t see that level of integration at the mid-market level. These are all things you can’t get from traditional ERPs or low-end solutions like an OMS.
“The real bang for your buck with Brightpearl is in the connectivity, in my opinion. Having a central source of truth for all your data, across all your channels, is simply invaluable as you scale.”
In-built accounting functionality, as well as the ability to connect "out of the box" with accounting providers like QuickBooks, and complete warehouse management software have also been game-changing features for Snow.
“SPS is key for us to be able to scale and reach new big player retailers," Martin noted. "Being able to connect it to Brightpearl takes away the risk of errors and improves operational efficiency even further.
“It’s always been important to us to partner with a brand that’s constantly innovating and looking to the future, as we are. The recent announcement that Sage, with all its scale and financial expertise, has acquired Brightpearl was music to my ears.
Snow is looking to scale even further, with its sights set on acquisitions and an expanded international reach (currently up to eight percent of its sales are to international customers).
“Brightpearl’s mantra is to help brands grow fearlessly and our mantra is to help people smile fearlessly, so we’re completely aligned" said Martin. "Brightpearl is a great fit for D-to-C brands in a high scale mode because it has a similar growth mindset and is attuned to their needs.”
As for Snow's future, Martin added: “There are 7 billion people in the world with teeth. We’re on a mission to reach as many of them as we can, and to continue to innovate as we do.”
Mark Hook is the vice president of global brand, communications and PR at Brightpearl, a retail operating system (ROS) for retailers and wholesalers with a clear mission to automate operational complexity so merchants can spend their time and money growing fearlessly.
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