When your business begins by breaking records for Kickstarter campaigns in its category, making the next step from a promise to a product is critical. Backers want to see the vision they supported become a reality – and when that product is ready for the consumer market, reliable and repeatable fulfillment is essential to keep the momentum going.
Since its Kickstarter campaign in 2016, Carv by Motion Metrics has doubled its growth year on year. It employs 26 people, up from 13 just a year ago. It’s also been through rounds of angel and seed funding and is looking to keep growing, targeting to continue at least doubling revenue year on year
Carv is a sports wearable that combines hardware with software that coaches people how to ski better. Its motion and pressure sensors fit into a ski boot that relays information about the skier’s performance to provide real-time audio coaching through an app.
Navigating the early stages of the business involved a steep learning curve, says Ben Ellis, supply chain and purchasing manager at Motion Metrics. “It got to the point where the team were struggling to fulfil the customer demand with the setup at the time and that was creating challenges. Our head of operations decided to work with a knowledgeable and strong team to deliver on this part of the business that we didn’t have a skillset in. We are a global business and at that point we were selling mainly in Europe and the UK. We wanted a warehouse that was close to us, with operations in Europe and the UK, to manage tax effectively, and be English speaking.”
After evaluating several suppliers, TBM Solution won out by being able to deliver against Carv’s service level agreements. Carv sells mostly direct to consumers through its Shopify-powered online store.
“No matter where you are in the world, consumer expectations are that fast delivery is standard and it happens when you say, so it’s very important to deliver on those promises. TBM Solution have been really good at enabling us to do that. The TBM guys offer a very quick fulfillment solution and with the partnerships they’ve got with the likes of DHL and UPS, we’re able to ship very quickly,” says Ben.
For the last couple of years, every order has been published to TBM, which then organised fulfillment based on Carv’s promised schedule: 1-2 business days for deliveries to the UK and continental Europe, 2-4 business days for the US and 4-6 business days for the southern hemisphere.
As a skiing product, most of Carv’s sales happen between November and March, and even within that timeframe there are still peaks and troughs. That’s why Carv is impressed with TBM’s agility in managing that schedule, Ben says. “Our business is seasonal, so finding an operator that can commit to that schedule and service it very well isn’t easy, but that’s one of TBM’s core strengths. The way they fluctuate resources and work with us to keep our commitments to our customers has been really impressive.”
“The reality is, 99%-plus of deliveries don’t ever have an issue and customers are happy. And the beauty of the service we’ve got with TBM is that when things do go wrong, they’re very quick to respond and find a solution,” adds Ben.
Communication with all levels of TBM’s team is key to the strong working relationship, says Ben. “We see at a day-to-day level, my logistics team can work with TBM on delivering the product to our customer base, and I’ve also got good communication with Ed and Al directly – that’s really helpful because it means you can act fast. TBM Solution are able to be agile, react and perform under pressure. They look after you and do what’s best for your business. It’s much more of a personal relationship where they’re your partner – not like a larger 3PL company where you’re just a number on a screen.”
That relationship went further in 2020, when Carv staff weren’t able to travel to China due to Covid-19 and needed expert support on the ground. During the pandemic, supply chain constraints from the Far East suddenly became headline news. So Carv turned to TBM for support in manufacturing the product and de-risking its supply chain by sourcing and onboarding new suppliers.
“Our product is very complex in its nature, so we need highly skilled operatives who understand the engineering and the real detail to support manufacturing and ensure the quality is where it needs to be. TBM’s team members on the ground are fluent in Chinese and can support the manufacturing process. They were very hands-on and helpful. They’ve given us the confidence to deliver,” says Ben.
So much so that in 2022, Carv manufactured products a full two months earlier than ever before. “That wouldn’t have happened without TBM on the ground,” Ben adds.
“TBM Solution is excellent for any business that’s either looking to launch or is very early in their journey – especially the professional services they provide if you need hardware or engineering support to get the product made and then get it to your customer base.”