How Smartshake Improved Supply Chain Visibility and Customer Experience With Flexport
countries served and expanding its customer base and product portfolio rapidly, without adding additional headcount
email per month reduced email traffic since working with Flexport
Swedish Krona instant saving in improved customs process
Smartshake was founded in 2009 when founder Mikael Bergström’s personal experiences created a vision for a new breed of leak-proof shakers made from high-quality materials. Headquartered in Västerås, Sweden, Smartshake is an athletic apparel company supplying bottles and carriers for athletics, such as shaker cups, water bottles, lunch boxes and more.
Smartshake and its product range has evolved and developed to answer the needs of anyone living an active lifestyle. Inspired by the Swedish tradition of innovation and user-centric design, Smartshake's portfolio has expanded alongside its impressive range of customers from all over the world. Additionally, Smartshake produces private-label products for well-known healthcare and nutrition brands, with customers such as Herbalife, Forever Living, Amway and more.
Smartshake has been on an impressive growth journey, expanding its product range and customer portfolio.
As an international e-commerce business, Smartshake is under constant pressure to fulfil orders worldwide and meet its customers' delivery expectations while also managing their costs and profit margins. The lack of transparency in communications with suppliers and customers was a challenge for the Smartshake team, resulting in delays and complications which impacted the service the team were able to offer their customers. Additionally, a lack of visibility into their orders, and their latest status complicated communications with customers causing an increase in email traffic, as the team had to constantly check the status and share updates via email. Recognising the importance of increasing visibility and communications across its supply chain, Smartshake turned to Flexport to help develop more customer-centric supply chain processes.
“Our top priority is always to provide our customers with quality products, combined with a high level of communications and customer service.” Niels Lassbo, Head of Accounting at Smartshake. “So, we are always looking for ways in which we can improve the experience for them, and this starts with ensuring everything goes smoothly for them as soon as they make an order.”
Prior to onboarding with Flexport, Smartshake used numerous freight forwarders, leading to additional complexities with communication and accountability of responsibility when issues arise. When reviewing digital logistics providers to partner with, Smartshake were not only impressed with the Flexport team, and the capabilities of the platform, but also how quick and easy it was to be onboarded onto the platform.
“The onboarding process was quick and easy, which was important for us to get up and running as quickly as possible, so our customers didn’t’ feel any disruption.” Said Niels Lassbo, Head of Accounting at Smartshake. “We received one email with our account login, and we were immediately onboarded onto the Flexport platform and able to start our logistics processes.”
Visibility And Communication As a Differentiator
Smartshake works with a number of suppliers in China that ship out of the Ningbo region. Its supplier network is not particularly complex; however, communications with numerous suppliers can cause delays and complications if they are not clear, especially in the face of disruption.
Previously, when exporting, retail customers would often email Smartshake asking for the latest information regarding their shipment, enquiring about delays and the current status of their order. With the Flexport Platform, Smartshake can now send customers a link so they can view exactly where the order is and its current status.
This has improved the customer experience Smartshake has been able to offer, strengthening relationships and building trust with its customer base whilst reducing the time taken to consistently update customers over email regarding the latest status of their order.
Flexport also allows Smartshake to keep its retail partner network informed by bringing suppliers and internal teams together on the platform, making it easier to share communications and real-time updates. Additionally, the platform provides the tools to digitise, structure, and validate data from shipment documents such as PO’s and commercial invoices to create the most accurate digital representation of a shipment. The ability to consolidate its communications and documentation relating to each order into the Flexport Platform means that Smartshake can also minimise the volume of emails, which reduces the time taken to organise shipments and reduces the margin of error for miscommunication, ensuring unnecessary delays are avoided.
Additionally, the Shipping Order (SO) release function within the Flexport Platform means Smartshake can view where its containers are and if it has confirmed bookings on vessels or not – giving Smartshake a view over the status of each shipment and security over the placement of its containers.
Customs Made Easy
With a fast-growing, global customer base, complex customs processes resulted in delays and additional costs for Smartshake.
For instance, one long-term customer in Germany bought from Smartshake with a delivered duty paid (DDP) agreement while the shipment arrived from China. The customer was reluctant to handle any paperwork and wanted the product to arrive as quickly and efficiently as possible. Helping to address this issue, Flexport’s dedicated service team and customs experts were able to help with fiscal representation when moving the goods to Germany, allowing Smartshake to move its goods more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Flexport’s customs brokerage service has assisted Smartshake in clearing goods through customs agencies around the world, helping it comply with all relevant rules and regulations at both origin and destination.
Additionally, Flexport’s Platform tracks inventory in motion, making customs exceptions timelier and more actionable. This means Smartshake, its Suppliers, and Flexport can efficiently resolve issues before they result in clearance delays or additional scrutiny by customs.
The flexibility Smartshake can now offer with Incoterms has opened up more opportunities for potential customers, where customs and goods clearance may have previously been an issue. Smartshake is now able to provide an alternative solution.
Flexibility For Finance Teams
Since working with Flexport, Smartshake has also found that the platform has offered numerous benefits for the finance department. By providing easy access to the information needed when shipping or tracking its products, means that processes such as calculating landed costs are quicker and easier to manage for its finance teams.
“When moving products and goods around the world, they are affected by the cost of shipping, which need to be calculated and taken into account” Commented Lassbo, “The records associated with these costs such as Flexport invoices include very clear information which makes tracking and tracing what products are affected by which price easier and quicker, ensuring accurate recording of landed costs for each product.”
Additionally, when it comes to payment, Flexport credit payment option has enabled Smartshake to benefit from increased financial flexibility across its supply chain. As a result, this payment flexibility can also be passed on to its retail partner network, further improving the customer experience for Smartshakes partners.
Collaboration Is Key
For a business such as Smartshake that prioritises quality and customer service above everything else, Flexport’s dedicated service teams add value by providing local expertise that enables Smartshake to easily tailor its orders to prioritise speed of shipment, or cost, depending on the situation. The support provided by Smartshake’s dedicated Flexport squad ensures that any queries are handled quickly and efficiently, whilst their expert knowledge of the industry allows Smartshake to offer a flexible service to their customers where required. The collaboration between Smartshake and the Flexport team has been key to ensuring Smartshake can make the most out of the Flexport Platform, benefitting from features such as in-app communication that enables the Flexport team to swiftly support any issues or challenges Smartshake are facing.
“We feel comfortable asking the Flexport team anything including best practices, and how they can tailor our shipments to prioritise cost, or speed, depending on what we need,” commented Sanna Gradenäs Head of order and logistics at Smartshake. “Being able to speak to experts who understand the specifics of these processes enables us to be flexible and creative with the service we offer our customers.”
“A big benefit when working with Flexport has been the dedicated team, meaning that communications are not reliant on one team member, and ensuring that any issues can be picked up and dealt with by an expert at Flexport.”
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