The Cheeky Panda has grown exponentially by outsourcing fulfilment to a reliable 3PL provider
Initially, The Cheeky Panda fulfilled orders in-house, focusing mainly on B2B wholesale orders. The company decided to sell direct to consumers (D2C) online but lacked the infrastructure to handle larger order volumes. This meant that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and more customers flocked online to buy goods, the company was unable to cope with increased demand and it became impossible for the small team to fulfil thousands of orders per day in-house. The Cheeky Panda sought a solution that could automate and streamline the order fulfilment process, without the need for investment into a dedicated warehouse and staff.
The Cheeky Panda outsourced fulfilment to Zendbox, dramatically improving the brand’s capability to sell its products D2C online. By automating its eCommerce fulfilment operations through Zendbox, The Cheeky Panda was able to save on the time and business costs of fulfilling in-house, whilst ensuring customers benefitted from a faster and more accurate service. A better customer experience not only increased brand visibility and awareness, but also enabled The Cheeky Panda to grow rapidly and organically without having to rely on a retailer. The company has experienced a consistent and steady year-on-year increase in revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
When The Cheeky Panda decided to start selling its products direct to consumers online, that’s when it started seeking out a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider. Marco Crociani – Operations & Logistics Lead at The Cheeky Panda – explains why the company chose to outsource fulfilment to Zendbox:
"At the time, implementing an in-house fulfilment solution would have been complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. I’m not even sure that we’d have the financial capability to make that sort of investment now, especially when you consider all the elements that go into it – building a warehouse, recruiting dedicated staff, and developing the relevant processes. Partnering with a 3PL fulfilment provider was definitely the best solution for The Cheeky Panda.
"There were several factors that influenced our decision to work with Zendbox. Firstly, the service from Zendbox is flexible. Secondly, Zendbox uses cutting-edge technology and provides access to Zendportal – its dedicated order and inventory management platform, which is simple and easy to use. The fact that Zendbox integrates with Shopify is also great. Lastly, Zendbox offers a service that’s ideal on price.”
Luke Brabbin – eCommerce Team Leader at The Cheeky Panda – comments on what he found most impressive about Zendbox:
“Compared to other 3PL providers that we looked at, Zendbox was the only one that had the technology and facilities that could provide a fast, accurate service fit for an eCommerce operation. The Cheeky Panda co-founder, Julie Chen, and I spoke to Zendbox CEO, James Khoury, about our fulfilment needs and we all seemed to align. Zendbox ultimately fitted with our plans for moving forward as a business.”
In the six years since its inception, The Cheeky Panda has grown to a team of over 30 people, with offices in both London and China. Zendbox is the first 3PL fulfilment provider that the company has worked with. Marco shares his thoughts on the positive impact that Zendbox has had on the business:
“The biggest benefit of working with Zendbox is that we at The Cheeky Panda have been able to reach our customers and have them engage with us directly. If a customer wanted to buy our products, they had to go through a retailer. Buying directly from The Cheeky Panda not only provides that certainty to customers that the products they receive are authentic, but also enables us as a brand to provide a more personalised service. We’ve also been able to set up different services for our customers like ‘Subscribe & Save’, which we simply couldn’t do before Zendbox.
“In fact, outsourcing fulfilment to Zendbox has enabled The Cheeky Panda to grow organically without having to rely on a retailer. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a peak in sales and the business grew significantly through eCommerce. Without support from Zendbox to manage this demand, we would have faced a huge loss in terms of both sales and brand visibility.
“Now that there is greater consumer awareness around The Cheeky Panda brand, we have seen a consistent and steady year-on-year increase in revenue from our online sales channels. Our monthly sales have increased by 100% since January 2021 and through Amazon alone, our business has expanded globally by 98% each year. Essentially, our online growth is doubling annually and we’re seeing physical retail sales increase as well, with retailers like Ocado responding extremely well to our products and the concept of producing everyday goods in a more sustainable way.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and more consumers flocked online to buy everyday items like toilet paper, the team at The Cheeky Panda quickly realised that they couldn’t cope with the increased demand. Luke says:
“During the pandemic, there were thousands of orders to fulfil, which was impossible for our small team to do in-house. Zendbox provided a solution that automated the fulfilment side of our business, leaving us very little to manage besides our stock. The service from Zendbox is extremely reliable and takes a lot of pressure off our team.
“Before Zendbox, we didn’t have any means of monitoring the fulfilment process, so we didn’t have any idea what was going on with our orders. Now, with Zendportal, we’re able to monitor inventory across our sales channels, including Shopify. We can also use Zendportal to view, track and edit our orders, and check courier information. Having this capability at our fingertips enables us to better manage our stock and provide an enhanced customer experience.”
Marco agrees that Zendportal affords numerous benefits to the business, as he says:
“The visibility and control that Zendportal provides helps us with our stock replenishment and order management processes. If a customer asks where their order is, we can log on to Zendportal, have a quick look, and give them an update. Zendportal itself is very easy to use and understand.”
The team at The Cheeky Panda believe that a strong relationship with Zendbox has enabled them to get the most out of the service provided. Luke comments:
“Communication with Zendbox is great, especially when it comes to sorting out any issues. Whenever we want to get in touch with the team, we can always get a meeting arranged to discuss things and it’s always a positive experience. On the delivery side of the fulfilment service from Zendbox, it’s brilliant. We’ve had a very good response from our customers regarding shipping.”
Reflecting on the partnership with Zendbox, Gabriel Grosu – Order Processing Administrator at The Cheeky Panda – says:
“I can confirm that communication between The Cheeky Panda and Zendbox continues to be productive. For example, when we wanted to move forward with our Kung Fu Panda promotional packaging project, we only needed a couple of meetings with Zendbox Product Manager, Alex Borg, and his team before they understood what we wanted from the service to achieve our business goals. Everything went very smoothly.”
The service from Zendbox is fast and reliable. Reliability is key because we want to make sure that our customers are happy, not just with our products but with our service too. They don’t want to be waiting days for their order to arrive, especially if it’s toilet paper! Moreover, if there are any issues – whether that’s during delivery or post-delivery – we want to have a good response. Zendbox helps us provide an excellent service to our customers.
Zendbox is expected to play a crucial role in The Cheeky Panda’s future growth plans, as Luke explains:
“Working with Zendbox has freed up a lot of resources at The Cheeky Panda and automated our order fulfilment process so that we can focus on other aspects of the business. We’re now at a crossroads where we’ve maintained the high level of growth that we experienced during the pandemic, and it’s now about getting to the next stage. Zendbox is key in providing a support system and operation that enables us to continue scaling up, whether that involves increasing our stock levels – depending on our campaigns for certain products – or providing the best shopping experience to our customers.”
“We’re really happy with Zendbox and can’t wait to see where the service goes from here.”
“Zendbox is fast and reliable.”
“Orders are delivered the next day as promised.”
“Zendbox offers a service that’s ideal on price.”
“We would recommend Zendbox to anyone. Zendbox is reliable and the team uses a great deal of advanced technology within their processes."