Reel Paper Shores Up Supply Chain to Meet Almost 150% YoY Growth
containers shipped annually
increase in shipments, from the second half of 2020 to 2021
For any company, navigating the supply chain crisis of the pandemic is a challenge in and of itself. But for toilet paper brands, like Reel Paper, the challenges were two-fold as they worked to meet the consumer demand spike – directly caused by the lockdowns at the onset of the pandemic – while facing the increasing challenges in supply chain. Despite these circumstances, Reel has seen 150% year over year (YoY) growth, which speaks to their highly efficient supply chain managed by Hector Omoigui, a logistics team of one, and supported by Flexport’s platform and team.
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Reel had set ambitious growth goals, recently expanding their distribution network and bringing on new consumer products. Their supply chain complexities began to multiply, and then the pandemic hit. Their two-month supply of toilet paper sold out in a record two weeks. The company went from seeing a couple hundred sales a day to a couple thousand.
This spike in sales demonstrated to Hector, Senior Operations Manager at Reel, that he needed to shore up their supply chain and build in some resilience if they were serious about maintaining this level of growth. In the company’s first year of existence, they could sufficiently manage about 20 containers over the course of six months with a spreadsheet. Today that number of containers is closer to 300-400 annually. Reel chose to work with Flexport and found not only a freight forwarding company, but also a growth partner.
Getting Ahead of Bottlenecks
As Hector described, “We knew we were still growing and we wanted a logistics partner that could keep up with our growth. Flexport allowed us this flexibility and visibility to enhance our planning and better understand the challenges in our supply chain.”
Prior to working with Flexport, the lack of end-to-end supply chain visibility prevented Hector from fully understanding the challenges at hand, not to mention the ones on the horizon. With Flexport, the ability to identify bottlenecks, whether caused by supplier backlog, a delay at the port, or their warehouse not accepting shipments on time, was a game changer.
“Before Flexport, if we had a delay, we didn’t know why or what was causing it. I would ask at least three different parties to finally find an answer. With Flexport, the information is all transparent—I can see everything in the platform. This allows me to be proactive and get to the source of the problem that much more quickly.”
Market Expertise To Stay in Stock
Beyond the visibility and flexibility that comes with the platform, Hector credits the market expertise of his Flexport team as critical to Reel’s success in navigating the ongoing supply chain disruptions. With Hector’s Flexport team, he’s able to jump on a call on a whim to plan out the best routings to mitigate lead times or identify the best port to ship to. “I’m texting with my Flexport team on a daily basis, and they go out of their way to make sure shipments are delivered on time. Their biggest priority is us getting our products.” These key decisions have made the biggest impact for Hector and Reel, enabling the company to continue delivering to customers on time.
“If you’re an importer, you’re really just trying to stay afloat. We’ve been able to do that largely because of Flexport’s help. Flexport has helped us understand what’s happening in the market, and that’s been a major difference-maker."
– Hector Omoigui, Senior Operations Manager, Reel Paper
This expert knowledge of the market, coupled with “overarching support and frankly, honesty” allows Reel to diversify their supply chain to get ahead of the ongoing congestion and cut down on shipment times. Following their recent partnership with Target, Reel has opted to ship to Port of New York City over Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach in order to keep their high-priority SKUs moving. They have used this same approach with both the Ports of Oakland and Seattle, and have even routed shipments to Pennsylvania over Chicago to avoid rail congestion.
Focusing on Their Main Mission
At the business-level, this visibility and market expertise allows Hector to align and coordinate with sales demand. If the company is facing longer lead times, Hector can recommend reducing the customer discount for better planning and forecasting. He’s able to take advantage of the data on hand and inform Reel’s sales and marketing teams.
Reel wants to become the main supplier of alternatively-sourced paper, and with their skyrocketing sales growth and recent Target expansion, they’re certainly on track. With Flexport, Reel can worry less about staying in stock, and focus on their main mission–preserving our natural forests and driving alternatively-sourced paper options for consumers.
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