By the Numbers
hours saved per year on PO management
revenue growth in 12 months during the global pandemic
delay on goods in transit
Founded in 2001, Victoria Plum is a fast growing bathroom eCommerce brand that helps over 2 million customers across the UK achieve their own “Little Bathroom Victories”, as the company calls them. Operating a diverse and large supply chain, the Victoria Plum business successfully reacted to the severe disruption of the global movement of goods and materials caused by Covid-19 with a combination of agile commercial thinking and carefully devised contingency plans.
The nature of Victoria Plum’s operation means that one customer renovating one bathroom will typically buy a range of goods involving multiple manufacturers; each with their own unique supply chain challenges. As a result, making sure the range of items that make up a bathroom - from a toilet, to sink and shower - are each manufactured, shipped and delivered to the customer at the same time is a complicated process.
The goal of Victoria Plum’s operations team is to ensure customers receive a seamless experience, with one order and one delivery, irrespective of the multiple factories and locations goods are coming from in the world.
As global ocean capacity dropped in early 2020, ensuring equipment was available and in the right place became a challenge for Victoria Plum. Easter in particular is one of many moments in the year where the business sees higher than usual sales (alongside Black Friday and January promotions). In the last two years, this extra demand has exacerbated existing global shipping peaks; Easter 2020 saw capacity continually stretched as global demand for PPE sky-rocketed and the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world. In 2021, March saw the Suez Canal become blocked by the Ever Given, resulting in a backlog for almost any shipper moving goods from Asia to Europe.
Strong supplier relationships and logistics has always been a major priority for Victoria Plum, with trying to meet transit times, avoiding stock shortages, and ensuring accuracy of orders the biggest challenges.
“As a business, availability and breadth of range is one of our most important measures, so getting goods to the port, onto the ships and to the destination port in the UK is critical to our success,” comments Andrew Svenson, Operations Director at Victoria Plum.
With a well-established supply chain and deep routed supplier relationships, and with Flexport on board as its logistics technology provider, the Victoria Plum business remained resilient, seeing growth and enabling the company to scale ranges and invest in new products, despite a challenging ocean market.
“Flexport supports Victoria Plum very well by ensuring the equipment we need to transport goods from factories in China to the UK is available when we need it, continues Svenson. “With Flexport on board we’ve been able to sell more stock as customers need it, helping us to move from a £70 million to £100 million business. We are targeting double digit growth year-on-year. To do that we must be the first choice supplier, with the best range available, that we can get to customers in a timely fashion. Logistics and consequently Flexport is a key part of achieving that ambition.”
The Flexport Platform has been essential to the management of containers and goods as they transit. Prior to Flexport coming on board, to find out the status of a shipment and critically in order to plan for any disruption, Freight Logistics Manager Sarah Dunn would have to call or email a forwarder, who in turn would contact different shippers about individual containers one-by-one. The feedback delay would be further increased by time zones, meaning it could take days to receive a simple update.
“Now with the Flexport platform I can easily download a report, share it with other parts of the business and action it; and if I need to ask a question I can contact suppliers and shippers alike through the platform for a fast response,” explains Dunn. “I’ve really noticed the benefits of this when vessels are delayed. I can get information straight away and we can also plan ahead to avoid bottlenecks.”
With all conversations taking place in the Flexport Platform and with supplier communications more regular as a result, Victoria Plum has been able to improve relationships with suppliers.
Flexport has helped the supply chain team to take on greater responsibility and deliver further value to the business with its Order Management solution, saving the team over two hours a day (500+ hours over the course of a year) by automating the reporting of purchase orders (PO).
Prior to Flexport coming on board, Sarah Dunn would have to physically go through each PO to identify any that had not been booked for shipment. Flexport does this for her, meaning she is now able to quickly identify any shipments that need booking and dedicate her newly acquired spare time to delivering greater value to the Victoria Plum business.
“Going through POs used to take 2-3 hours and I’m now doing it in 45 minutes with Flexport,” comments Sarah Dunn.
“We’re really proud of our relationship with Flexport’s teams in the UK and Asia, and the partnership is key to our growth strategy,” concludes Svenson. “Regular updates and helpful information delivered in real-time via the platform has enabled us to keep the wider business aware of what is going on in our supply chain.”
“The working relationship with the Flexport team has also been key to success. With a team member always just a phone call away, we always feel really important to Flexport and value their input on our business. The team is always working to try and provide the best solutions for us, and we always look forward to our weekly calls and enjoy the genuine partnership we have with the team. With Flexport’s support we’re able to make intelligent decisions quickly, and maintain growth through a challenging freight landscape.”
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