3 Reasons to Outsource Order Fulfillment for Women Owned Businesses with Laura Kockler from Sub SupportHer
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like working with a fulfillment center as a small product based business this episode is for you. This week, episode 133 of the Product Powerhouse Podcast is about working with a fulfillment center for women owned product business, especially for subscription box owners!
Build your Shopify store in just 14 days. This roadmap walks you through exactly what you need to do to design a strategic and beautiful Shopify store.
In this episode of the Product Powerhouse Podcast, Laura Kockler from Sub Support Her is sharing exactly what it’s like working with a fulfillment center and how she’s revolutionizing the fulfillment industry by creating a fulfillment center that works only with female owned companies.
Laura Kockler is the creator of Sub Support Her, which is a full-service fulfillment center for woman owned subscription box and product-based businesses. She works hard to maintain a value led company centered on female empowerment, equality, passion, and fun. She has never been one to allow fear to hold her back, and she is on a mission to alter the warehouse and fulfillment industry.
Some of the talking points Laura and I go over in this episode include:
What it was like starting a subscription box at the start of the pandemic.
How her company Sub Support Her is changing the industry of fulfillment for small woman owned product businesses.
Ways that using a fulfillment center can create freedom in your business.
When taking a big leap is better than taking a baby step in your own business.
Be sure to tune in to all the episodes to receive tons of practical tips on growing your product shop and to hear even more about the points outlined above.
Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, take a screenshot of the episode to post in your stories and tag me! And don’t forget to follow, rate and review the podcast and tell me your key takeaways!
Learn more about Product Powerhouse and Erin at https://productpowerhouse.co/podcast/
TRANSCRIPT - 3 Reasons to Outsource Order Fulfillment for Women Owned Businesses with Laura Kockler from Sub SupportHer
[00:00:00]Erin Alexander: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the product powerhouse podcast. Hi friends. I'm so excited to be here with you today. I am chatting with a new friend today. Today we're talking to Laura kockler. From sub support her.
[00:00:19] Laura has created a fulfillment company for women business owners. Particularly women who are managing a subscription box, but she also does fulfillment for product based businesses. So this could be small businesses, just like yours that have a dedicated fulfillment team through Laura's company sub support her.
[00:00:43] I was really excited to chat with Laura because the world of fulfillment and dropship is so heavily. Spammy and smarmy. And like, it's just, it's very bro marketing, which we talk[00:01:00] about Laura and I.
[00:01:01] In this episode, we talk about how working with a company like Lorez can really help create freedom in your business. Freedom from having inventory that's taking over your house. I know I've seen pictures of some of my friends with product based businesses, where you just have like boxes all over your house.
[00:01:17] It can also create freedom in what you are spending your time doing, because I know you want to send out packages to your customers that just are fabulous. And they are excited to open them. And it can just create space for you to spend time working on the things that are important to you into growing your business.
[00:01:40] I think it's also creates freedom because you have a dedicated person tracking all of your shipments. In and out. Laura takes care of managing shipments that come in and shipments that go out. And so I really think this episode could possibly open up the idea of working with a fulfillment and outsourcing in your[00:02:00] business in a way that you never have before.
[00:02:02] As I was editing this episode, I just got really excited about what Laura is creating and how she has created this. Another part that I absolutely love is that Laura created this business after trying a couple different things and pivoting to find her place where it makes the most sense aligned with her passions and her lifestyle. I think that is so important as business owners, especially in my own shoes. I am doing that same thing.
[00:02:29] I've been in business for several years and I'm trying to find where do I fit in as my business has evolved. I think that this conversation is really, really relatable and I hope that you think so, too. So let's jump into this conversation with Laura, from sub support her.
[00:02:48] You're listening to Product Powerhouse, a podcast to inspire and empower you while you build a powerful product based business that fuels your passion and feeds your family. I'm your host, Erin[00:03:00] Alexander. I run an e-commerce web design agency that helps shop owners, build, grow, and scale. This podcast is all about actionable strategies specifically for your product based business.
[00:03:10] So friend, grab an iced coffee and let's chat because DIYing your business doesn't mean you have to do it alone.
[00:03:16]Erin Alexander: Hi Laura. How are you today?
[00:03:19]Laura Kockler: Hi, Erin. I'm so good. I'm so glad to be here with you.
[00:03:22]Erin Alexander: I am so excited. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. I am super excited for today's conversation. We're going to be talking about fulfillment for product based businesses. I think this is so cool. We've never talked about it on the podcast. I'm really excited. Before we dive in, let's tell everyone who you are and what you do.
[00:03:41]Laura Kockler: Yeah hi everyone. My name is Laura Kockler and I am the founder of Sub SupportHer. And, a little interesting fact Sub supporter is basically an all-encompassing brand where I support women owned subscription box businesses and e-commerce brands.[00:04:00] I never in a million years thought that I would ever have been a business owner, let alone e-commerce landscape.
[00:04:09] But I actually got into it a couple of years back when I launched my own subscription box, , and I kind of just fell in love. Everything that is about subscription boxes and e-commerce. The only thing that I was really missing was like the service part. I was always wanting to help the women with their businesses.
[00:04:30] Like I wanted to do so much more to get the name out for them and to help them, get their business even more well known. And so I made the decision. To pivot and close down the subscription part, of my business and pivot to a virtual assistant for that same demographic. I used like my first year in business, with sub supporter as getting my feet wet.
[00:04:58] I worked with some coaches, I've[00:05:00] worked with subscription boxes, and then this past May, I was like, okay, I really just wanna focus on e-commerce subscription boxes. that's the stamp. We're done. that's who we're working with. I am so excited to talk about fulfillment because it is, A male dominated industry, first of all,
[00:05:19] And this is a new service that I started, this past July. And there's a lot of, myths out there related to fulfillment, and it's this unknown, far away concept. A lot of times isn't attainable for smaller brands, which we're changing that.
[00:05:46]Erin Alexander: I wanna go back a little bit and hear a about your subscription box. What kind of subscription box did you have?
[00:05:52]Laura Kockler: Okay. I feel like. Like everyone, I dabbled in direct sales. when he had, I had kids, we, I stayed at home and then[00:06:00] I was like, okay, I'm gonna do direct sales. So I did direct sales and I was getting to the point where I just wanted something that was just mine. Like I didn't have to answer to anyone.
[00:06:09] It was whatever I wanted to do. And I said, what am I interested in? Enough to make a business out of and supporting women. And food is my love language. One day it just came to me at light bulb and I was like, subscription box. That sounds so fun. I have no idea how to do it. I just kind of was like, I, this is what I'm gonna do.
[00:06:35] And my husband was like, okay, and so I found like a bootcamp to help me like launch it cuz I'm the type of person when I decide on something like I want it done yesterday. So I was like, I cannot be Googling all this. And so within three months of me getting my llc, I shipped out my first box.
[00:06:54] It was called Laura's Kitchen table. The website is not up anymore, but my Instagram is, so you can go creep on that.[00:07:00] It was food and beverage items from women owned small businesses in the states. Again, very female empowerment. And I loved it. I loved it. I loved everything about it.
[00:07:11] It was such a learning experience that I think I had to go through that to get to where I am now. My first box went out February of 2020 and as we all know, that was not a good time but I always tell people like even with just starting a. Right before a pandemic shut down the world. I had the most dedicated subscribers, I just love them.
[00:07:39] And it's more than just like getting a box of items. It's like giving them this experience. It was like everything has fallen into place and I love doing that. And it's a lot. There's a, there's a lot. To running the subscription boxes. And that's kind of what led me to[00:08:00] be doing VA work because I was doing all the things for my business, while doing mom duty, and all that other stuff. I lived through having to juggle all the things and then that was like, you know what?
[00:08:15] I'm gonna help all the other women business owners get stuff.
[00:08:19]Erin Alexander: That's really fun, I love that it was called Laura's kitchen table. How cute. I feel like that is February, 2020 was like a terrible time to start a business, but also a good time to receive a subscription box
[00:08:33]Laura Kockler: Right. I mean, it honestly, it was such, it was like I had to do that. I had to have that experience and it was a little nerve-wracking, but, Like I said, like I am thankful for that experience and I'm thankful for my subscribers that like stuck with me and were cheering me on and even cheering me on when I decided to pivot. because that can be kind of a scary[00:09:00] thing.
[00:09:01]Erin Alexander: Absolutely. I love that you took this thing that you were passionate about and transitioned it into the parts that you were passionate about, because it takes a special kind of person to be able to do the operations of this type of business. I am not an operations person. I hired an OBM and she changed my life.
[00:09:18] Having that skill set and having this passion tie in together is really incredible. And I know that that type of. Support for someone who's really passionate about also creating a subscription box is gonna be really powerful.
[00:09:31]Laura Kockler: Yeah.
[00:09:31]Erin Alexander: So you transitioned into supporting subscription box business owners, and then you pivoted a little bit again into helping with fulfillment.
[00:09:43] This is really exciting because I think you touched on this. Business owners, small business owners, we think that fulfillment is unattainable. We're like, how can I have a business and have like a mountain of inventory? Like, do I have to buy a new house? Do I have to have a[00:10:00] storage unit? So let's tell people if they've never even heard of the phrase fulfillment, what is fulfillment?
[00:10:06]Laura Kockler: Yeah. Fulfillment warehouse, 3PL, those are all common. They're used interchange really, but mean different things. But basically a fulfillment is typically a center that it's their own staff. They receive your inventory and they package it and they ship it out.
[00:10:28] So they are fulfilling your box order or your one off orders, things like that. so you don't have the inventory in your house, it's at your fulfillment center. A funny I always tell my husband like, it's a, it's like fate that this landed, because he worked in distribution for 10 years and then went over to a men's skincare line and he runs the warehouse and fulfillment for them.
[00:10:57] I've been doing like helping out[00:11:00] every now and then at his warehouse. And that's where my ideas started coming from. I really love the whole like packaging thing. There's really nothing out there that's a fulfillment center strictly for women. It's a growing demographic with an e-commerce and it's all very male dominated, bro fulfillment centers out there. Um there's nothing that like speaks to me. There's other women business owners who are like feeling the same way.
[00:11:34] With the fulfillment idea, I was like, okay that's gonna be like my five year plan. And then I kept seeing things like in various Facebook groups. And it's like when you buy a red car, you start seeing the red car. And so I was like, okay I guess I need to do this now because I keep seeing these signs. I was finally like, I'm just gonna put it out there. Cause if I don't put it out there, I'm never gonna do it. I didn't have anything really[00:12:00] structured, like I'm just gonna put it out. I've been working with one awesome, woman owned subscription box since July and love it.
[00:12:09] Love it.
[00:12:11]Erin Alexander: What it is, is you have the warehouse, right? And, and these business owners, they have their products either delivered to you or they ship 'em to you, and then you handle the fulfillment of packaging all the orders, printing out the labels, making sure it looks the way that they want it to look, and shipping it out for them.
[00:12:32]Laura Kockler: Yeah. So anytime, your inventory comes to me, your boxes, your packaging, whatever you're using in your brand comes to me. I take inventory of it. I take pictures. Especially if there's damages that is communicated to the client to the business owner, so that we can make sure that we remedy that.
[00:12:54] To obviously get new product in counting, making sure that[00:13:00] it is the accurate count for what you ordered. then I store it away until it is time to start packaging everything up. And then I handle all the packaging. It's my floor that's covered in crinkle cut and not yours. It's very much a streamlined process for me because I've done it before. Sometimes people are like, what? Like that sounds like a lot. what I envision for sub supporter fulfillment is that it is a very stressful process to outsource anything in your business to anyone, let alone the last step before your customer gets.
[00:13:40] That is extremely nervewracking. That's why it's such a high touch customer service because at the end of the day, it needs to arrive to your customer as if it was you doing each individual package, each individual box. And that's really like a standard of[00:14:00] care, that is integral to the fulfillment aspect.
[00:14:04]Erin Alexander: Right. That is really cool. So are they sending you their branded materials? Essentially you're a part of their team helping take care of this
[00:14:11]Laura Kockler: Yeah, they send me all the things , so whether it's boxes, poly mailers, crinkle cut, all of it. Basically, instead of it being shipped to your house, it gets shipped to mine and I store it, count it, do all that fun stuff, so that you don't have to do. Because not everyone likes that part. I don't want to package orders, and that's okay.
[00:14:36] Like you don't have to love every part of that. And the great thing is when you're able to outsource that, then you're able to tackle other bigger things that require you specifically to focus.
[00:14:51]Erin Alexander: Yeah, it's really freeing up the business owner to, spend their time like creating, expanding the vision, designing new products, answering[00:15:00] customer questions because fulfilling a subscription box, especially a subscription box, fulfilling a order in general is time consuming, but especially
[00:15:08] fulfilling a subscription box where there's, several products and you have to go through this whole process of, getting it all put together. So there's a lot of steps that have to happen and you are saving them that time.
[00:15:22]Laura Kockler: And it's interesting because when you're able to get all of the inventory out of your house, then you're also reclaiming like, Your peaceful space, right? Because when your hallways and closets are lined with inventory and boxes and papers and crinkle cut and all the things, like I get that feeling that is stressful and it's you're at work 24 7, because it's all over your house, right?
[00:15:49] That's what I wanted to be able to provide for these businesses because, A lot of times with fulfillment centers,[00:16:00] you have to have a certain minimum. Usually it's 200 to 250 orders. That's the minimum. if you don't meet the minimum, then essentially you're gonna be charged X amount of dollars to fulfill that.
[00:16:13] that's why we're not gonna do a minimum. For. My fulfillment. There's no minimums. whether you have 10 boxes, a hundred, a thousand, there is no minimums because I don't want that to be, that shouldn't be like a barrier to you getting the outsource help that could take your business to the next level.
[00:16:35] there's no minimums. There's set pricing. And the pricing is on the website. So it's not like you have to give me your email and call and then I'm gonna hunch you down all week.
[00:16:47] It's up there. no one is doing that. the pricing is set in a way because.
[00:16:53] I want it easy for me, but I also want it easy for you. We shouldn't have to count how many[00:17:00] touches, cuz that's essentially what typical fulfillment centers base their prices around. So it may be dollar 25 for up to four items and two inserts, but anything after that, any other touches.
[00:17:18] It's gonna be 25 cents per box. what you're doing is you have no idea what month to month your fulfillment cost is going to be.
[00:17:29] With this model. it's a set cost. if there's things that require maybe a little bit more, kidding, or you need like additional steps to put the product together, then that's something that we talk about.
[00:17:45] Being able to say, this is the price, so you can budget and understand and know. Also a lot of times too, it's so helpful to be able to. Plan ahead. And I speak from experience[00:18:00] that's super hard,
[00:18:02] super hard. but when you are like, okay I have to get my stuff. Over to fulfillment you, it forces you to plan ahead and get those things done a little bit faster, but so no minimums, upfront pricing.
[00:18:18] You won't have to do math equations every single month. We don't have time for that. There's no surprises. We're able to photograph your products too, because since we're getting your inventory, why not? Right? So that's an a la carte option. it's really meant to be like a one stop shop for fulfillment to a boutique fulfillment, let's say. To be able to give you that peace of mind that your products are getting to your customers. In a timely manner, but also in the quality of care that you would expect if you were doing it yourself.
[00:18:52]Erin Alexander: keep your minimums? Is that part of your, like long term plans with it?
[00:18:57]Laura Kockler: Yeah. My[00:19:00] plan for the fulfillment aspect is really to make it something that, works in partnership with you rather than an external service. Because my whole premise behind my business and my brand is to empower women. We know that if female owned businesses, they tend to give back more to the community, that's what we are striving for.
[00:19:24] I have big plans for this fulfillment aspect, in not only helping to support the women own businesses that we're fulfilling for, but also to serve as catalyst for anyone that we may hire in the . To really be a change agent within. So it's not let's plow through some fulfillment orders and get the money.
[00:19:48] I very much believe that. You can run a successful business and still care about people
[00:19:55]Erin Alexander: Yeah,
[00:19:56]Laura Kockler: know,
[00:19:57] because if you're successful, I'm[00:20:00] successful, I'm successful, you're successful. So it's a win-win around. So it's definitely only going to get more female focused. Like I wanna get female owned suppliers for different packaging needs and all that kind of stuff.
[00:20:14] This is definitely going to stay along with this business model, but it's definitely, different from what is typical in the industry.
[00:20:25]Erin Alexander: I like that a lot. My other question is, so you said you mostly, I know you mostly support subscription businesses, but you also mentioned e-commerce businesses. So could just a basic, could it be someone where you are fulfilling their orders, not necessarily someone who has a subscription box.
[00:20:42]Laura Kockler: Absolutely. Absolutely., Again, I am like, I love packaging. I don't know, it just like gets me in the zone. But being able to like, organize all the things and print out the shipping labels. Absolutely. If you have an e-commerce and you just people purchase whenever.
[00:20:59][00:21:00] Absolutely. It's the same kind of thing. You send me your inventory, send me how you want it packaged, so whether that's poly mailers, boxes, anything. It's the same process, making sure that it gets out as if you did it yourself. Right? So it's the same quality of care. It's just we fulfill every day and that's that's cool. Most
[00:21:21]Erin Alexander: Yeah. That's really cool. One more question around like your fulfillment. Do you have storage fees for maintaining, I know that's something that happens at some fulfillment centers if it sits there for a little while, how do you handle that?,
[00:21:34]Laura Kockler: right now I don't .Again, like I don't like math, so I'm trying to make it as easy as possible. , so right now I don't have any additional fees. Maybe down the road, who knows? I'm not the cheapest option. That's not my goal. My goal is not to be the cheapest option for you.
[00:21:50] And that's okay. While my prices may be a little bit higher, I feel that they're pretty darn great for the kind of care that you get. Right[00:22:00] now I don't, I know like standard industry, it depends if it's on a pallet or if you have, so much inventory, extra. And I'm all about making it as simple as possible.
[00:22:12]Erin Alexander: Yeah, I think those are some of the things that hang people up or I get hold people back from considering fulfillment is they're worried that if something doesn't sell, they're gonna have to pay a huge storage fee or they're worried that the orders will get packaged as well or as carefully as if it was someone on their team or themselves doing it.
[00:22:32] And so, you're right, you might not. The cheapest option, but you are more of like an extension of their business than just a fulfillment center for them. And that's really critical,
[00:22:43] especially for some of our business owners listening are like handmade business owners that they've poured their heart and soul into their business and they really, really care.
[00:22:53] They're not just slapping a label on something and shipping it out , it's important to them. What you've created isn't just a[00:23:00] fulfillment center. It's a branch of your business that you really can have support around in the order fulfillment phase, which I think is something that's actually maybe one of the easier parts to hire out because you can easily create a system for it.
[00:23:15] Whereas some of the other pieces of creating your products, designing new collections, that it's maybe not as easy to hire out as fulfill.
[00:23:23]Laura Kockler: Even if you do love fulfillment, you also have to really think about , okay, is that where your time is best spent? What's nice about having a partner like me with fulfillment is you don't have to worry about The actual hiring of staff. You have someone who like knows the industry.
[00:23:45] You also are then able to just be okay, here you go. Take it. And again, like you said, it's more of a partnership, because we are like cheering you on. I remember when I had[00:24:00] my own subscription box and one of the brands that I included, like months later, I was at the store and I saw their product in the store and I was so excited and I bought it.
[00:24:13] I brought it home. And I'm like, this one was in my, I was so excited for them. We want to be that partner to help take this off your shoulders and do it in a way that is an extension of your brand.
[00:24:29]Erin Alexander: Absolutely. That's really cool. Laura, this has been such a fascinating conversation. I just, I love what you're creating and I think it's going to help a lot of women get their products in front of more people, spend time doing the parts of their business that they love.
[00:24:44] It's really incredible what you're creating here. I have two things before we go. I love to ask everyone on the podcast the same question, the question is, what is something you're currently learning in your own business? And I ask you this because I like to[00:25:00] show. Everyone listening or tell everyone listening that it doesn't matter who you are, what you're doing, how long you've been in business, we're all learning and growing and evolving.
[00:25:10] So is there something you are currently learning in your own business that you would be happy to share with us?
[00:25:16]Laura Kockler: Oh, I love that. Okay. So I have to say that I am like obsessed with freebies workshops, master, do not send me any because I have no self-control and I want to learn all the things. With that. I'm in a particular program now where I'm working on some things, and for me, one of the biggest things that I was, that I'm learning or that I'm unlearning is more of a mindset shift where at least for me it was always, start small it never, ever occurred to start big. It's always, I'm gonna take this baby step and[00:26:00] this and this, and then I'm gonna get to the top right? Then I'm gonna do this big thing.
[00:26:04] And I think you could start doing the big thing first. And that was like a mind shift. Like it sounds so simple. it was always start at the bottom and you go up.
[00:26:16] And to have that shift of no, you start at the top. Start big, start at the top, start at that big scary goal, and dive into it. That I think is something. That terrifies a lot of us . If you're nervous or scared to do it, then that means that you probably should because you care about it.
[00:26:39]Erin Alexander: What a great mindset shift. I am one of those people who just jumps in and doesn't really think about it. So I'm right there with you. You don't have to start small, like start with the big, hairy, audacious goal. Isn't that what Mike Mcit calls it? Start there and just jump .
[00:26:56]Laura Kockler: Yeah, I mean you'll, figure it out, do it[00:27:00] messy and iron out all the things as you go along with it.
[00:27:04]Erin Alexander: A hundred percent. There are people who starting small works for and there are people who jumping in head first. Learning how to build a plane on the way down. Works too.
[00:27:14] Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing. So the last question I have for you is where can everyone find you? Where can we hang out with you online?
[00:27:21] What's the best way to get in touch with you?
[00:27:23]Laura Kockler: I'm probably most active on Instagram and you can find me, at sub support her, so S u s u p p o r t h e R, sub supporter. And my website is sub that's, you can find me on all the, the socials with that handle as well. I love when. People message me. It's me responding back to you.
[00:27:45] So please if you ever want to, but you're like, oh, I don't know, just do it. I love, love meeting and connecting, with new people.
[00:27:54]Erin Alexander: Awesome. yeah.
[00:27:55] We will have the links to your Instagram and your website and[00:28:00] information about your fulfillment center all in the show notes, so it'll be easy for anyone listening to find. Just click those links. You can find her. Tell Laura, you heard her on the Product Powerhouse podcast and you loved her vision and just, you can chat with her.
[00:28:13] Thank you so much for being here and sharing with us this new style of fulfillment that you're creating to support women business owners. I'm excited to see where it goes.