St. Frank believes in the power of stories. Their artisanal home products showcase the stories of the artisans, small businesses, communities, and vintage dealers who craft each piece with the utmost intention and care. As St. Frank expanded into an omnichannel business, they encountered a plethora of order, inventory, and fulfillment challenges which the team was able to quickly and efficiently solve with Pipe17.
Shopify, ShipStation, Mochila, VeraCore, and Point of Sale Systems
Order routing, inventory management, bundles and kits, fulfill from store, purchase orders and transfer orders
About St. Frank
St. Frank launched in 2013 with a dream of bringing beautiful, artisanal textiles and crafts to the mainstream market. Co-founders Christina Bryant Herbert and Stephanie Peng sought to build a company that offers exceptional products, with unique origins, that are ethically sourced while ensuring that the artists who create these products make a good living from their handiwork. St. Frank’s success is intertwined with the products they sell and the people who make them, which is one reason why Christina and Stephanie made sure to embed sustainability and social impact into the company’s mission.
St. Frank’s product line consists of three parts – contemporary handmade, vintage, and printed pieces. Almost all of their products are either made on demand, one of a kind, or limited in stock. This small batch, artisan centered approach results in beautiful products that share stories of their creators and communities.
St. Frank got its start selling products in a San Francisco brick-and-mortar store (it’s a must visit for any Bay Area resident or traveler stopping through). Since then, St. Frank has expanded to become an omnichannel retailer with a second brick-and-mortar store in Florida, numerous in person and online showroom partners, and a booming ecommerce business powered by Shopify.
Omnichannel success hinges on connectivity
St. Frank’s omnichannel expansion skyrocketed sales for their sustainable, and beautiful home goods. At the same time as sales were exploding, St. Frank’s small batch, low-volume, and made-to-order product strategy was creating significant connectivity, order management, inventory management, and fulfillment challenges for their omnichannel operations.
When St. Frank’s omnichannel operations work seamlessly, their brick-and-mortar stores complement the ecommerce and fulfillment business by serving as an order source, showroom, drop-shipping location, fulfillment center, and return handler. However, if St. Frank’s brick-and-mortar stores, Shopify storefront, multiple 3PLs, and warehouse management system aren’t connected, then data becomes untrustworthy and trapped in channel silos which causes omnichannel operations to break down. For St. Frank’s omnichannel operations to work, their commerce applications needed to be constantly sending, receiving, and actioning real-time order, fulfillment, inventory, and product catalog data amongst each other.
St. Frank needed a connectivity solution that would enable their current, and future, commerce applications to work in lockstep with the flow of orders, fulfillments, and inventory.
St. Frank first started working with Pipe17 because they wanted to create a connected, accurate, and reliable source of truth that spanned their entire omnichannel operations. Using Pipe17’s no-code connectivity hub, St. Frank was able to connect their Shopify storefront and brick-and-mortar point of sale systems in 15 minutes. With their orders now flowing into one centralized location, the team turned to fulfillment. In under an hour, with no development or IT assistance, St. Frank was able to connect their multiple 3PL vendors (ShipStation and Mochila) as well as their warehouse management system (VeraCore) to Pipe17.
Automated order routing based on business priorities
With their ecommerce channel driving the majority of orders, any product that St. Frank stocked in their brick-and-mortar stores also needed to be available for purchase on their ecommerce site. When a brick-and-mortar store was the only location where St. Frank had product inventory, that store would need to handle fulfillment if an ecommerce order was received for that product. When a product was stocked at a brick-and-mortar store, but also had inventory at St. Frank’s warehouse or a 3PL, St. Frank wanted the warehouse or 3PL to fulfill any ecommerce orders for that product so they wouldn’t lose an opportunity to make a sale to a walk-in customer.
St. Frank needed an order management solution that would automatically route orders from every sales channel to the most preferred fulfillment location.
With their sales and fulfillment channels connected and communicating with each other in real-time, St. Frank was ready to automate their order-to-fulfillment process with Pipe17. Using Pipe17’s built in order routing functionality, St. Frank created rules to designate which orders get routed to which fulfillment location based on available inventory, SKU, total line items, and location closest to the customer.
With just a few clicks in Pipe17, St. Frank was also able to designate their brick-and-mortar stores as fulfillment locations. This enabled St. Frank to add brick-and-mortar stores to their order routing fulfillment prioritization. Now, St. Frank’s brick-and-mortar stores would be routed orders to fulfill only if their warehouse and 3PLs lacked the available inventory to fulfill the order.
Synchronized inventory management with purchase and transfer order creation
A large portion of St. Frank’s products are sold as bundles and kits. To manage inventory for their product catalog, where a single product could be sold standalone or as a component in one of a hundred different bundles and kits, St. Frank needed to synchronize their inventory. Whenever a product was sold, shipped or restocked, all of St. Frank’s sales channels and fulfillment locations needed to reflect the inventory change for that product SKU, and any bundle or kit that contained that SKU, in real-time. With small inventory stock by design, St. Frank also needed to streamline purchase order and transfer order creation so they could act quickly when demand changed to restock or move inventory between locations.
St. Frank needed an inventory management solution that would synchronize inventory across channels in real-time, and that enabled them to effortlessly create purchase orders and transfer orders.
Since St. Frank connected all of their sales and fulfillment channels with Pipe17, synchronizing inventory was a breeze. When a St. Frank fulfillment location ships an order, or receives new stock, Pipe17 automatically updates the products, as well as any impacted bundles and kits, inventory availability across all Pipe17 connected channels. Without doing any additional work, St. Frank had found their synchronized inventory management solution with Pipe17.
When a location, be it a brick-and-mortar store or a 3PL, is running low on inventory, St. Frank uses Pipe17’s native purchase order and transfer order functionality to effortlessly restock or move inventory between locations. In Pipe17, St. Frank can also see when a Pipe17 created purchase order or transfer order is going to arrive at a fulfillment location. Now, when a sold out product has replenishment inventory in transit, St. Frank can continue to take orders for that product and properly set expectations with the customer for when their order will be delivered.
On-time and accurate bundle and kit fulfillment at scale
Scaling 3PL fulfillment was another dilemma for St. Frank. As their sales grew they needed to use 3PLs to keep up with fulfillment, but 3PLs were constantly missing delivery times and shipping inaccurate orders.
Most 3PLs have rigid requirements for how an order must be sent to them if they are going to pick, pack, and ship bundles and kits. Complicating things further, even St. Frank’s standalone products were having trouble being fulfilled by 3PLs because most of their products are accompanied by a unique printed card that shares the history and story of the artisan and product.
When St. Frank receives an order for a handmade pillow, they need to ship a pillow case, pillow insert, and the matching printed card for that pillow. While St. Frank could easily fulfill this order themselves from a brick-and-mortar store, when 3PLs tried fulfilling the order information was getting lost in translation and items were being excluded or mismatched printed cards were being included.
St. Frank needed an automated bundling and kitting solution so they could achieve on-time and accurate fulfillment with 3PLs at scale.
By toggling a single setting in Pipe17, St. Frank was able to automatically split orders (bundles and kits as well as standalone products that have a matching printed card) into their individual line items. By splitting orders into individual line items, St. Frank can route those items to any fulfillment location, including 3PLs, and confidently know that no item will be missing or incorrectly added during fulfillment.
Now, when St. Frank sells a bundle or kit, they don’t worry about how fulfillment will interpret the order and what items will get sent to the customer. St. Frank can also optimize shipping costs using Pipe17’s fill-or-kill functionality which allows St. Frank to control if they want a fulfillment location to partially fulfill an order, or only accept orders they can fulfill completely.
Streamlining omnichannel operations with Pipe17
St. Frank has scaled their omnichannel business with Pipe17, all without needing to hire an in-house development team or pay consultants to build expensive customized systems. St. Frank uses Pipe17 to:
- Connect sales and fulfillment channels with bi-directional communication
- Automate omnichannel order routing based on business priorities
- Prioritize fulfillment locations including warehouse, 3PL, and fulfill from store
- Synchronize inventory availability across sales and fulfillment channels in real-time
- Effortlessly create, and track the arrival of, purchase orders and transfer orders
- Automatically split bundles and kits into their individual line items for 3PL fulfillment
- Optimize shipping costs with fill-or-kill fulfillment
“What Pipe17 does really well is managing complex logistics for merchants who don’t want to build a custom solution. Pipe17 has the capability to manage lots of different channels and functionality that solves complex use cases — that’s where they really shine.”
If you’re interested in one-of-a-kind, artisanal home goods sourced from traditional craftspeople, make sure to check out St. Frank.