America’s fifth-largest corrugated packaging company, Pratt Industries, was doing well. In its 20 years in the United States, Pratt had created a name for itself as one of the world’s largest 100% recycled paper and packaging company helping spread the word that recycling is an important weapon against climate change.
But there was one small problem. The internet had grown considerably in the past two decades. Pratt’s business model for selling packaging supplies worked, but it needed a push to keep up with demand.
In 2018 alone, ecommerce sales represented almost 15% of total retail sales. The Pratt team saw this as an opportunity to grow their ecommerce presence. After a little outside the box thinking, the company formed our team, Brandable Box. Today, more than 10 members comprise the Brandable Box team.
The road to expanding Pratt’s ecommerce presence and reach through Brandable Box came with plenty of bumps and potholes. Our team had the backing of a successful parent company, but ecommerce was a largely untouched avenue. It was up to our small team to explore and expand.
Exploring Ecommerce and Customer Needs
Before our team reached 10 members, we started with just three—our ecommerce lead, marketing analyst, and graphic designer. This tiny team knew two things:
- Ecommerce was booming and Pratt needed to expand.
- People were searching for terms like “custom boxes” and “affordable shipping boxes.”
Cardboard boxes have been used for shipping and handling since 1871. Businesses of any size have a need for boxes, especially small ecommerce stores that rely heavily on themselves to both fulfill orders and ship them to their customers. When our team searched for custom boxes online, we found sky-high prices and extremely complicated processes for ordering.
This was the gap in the marketplace that Pratt could fill. With this foundation, our team of three began working on a business model. We needed a clear mission to work towards: To bring 100% recycled boxes to businesses of any size. We aimed to model ourselves after large, successful businesses that strived to bring valuable and needed products to customers at the best price for them without sacrificing quality.
First, we launched a website. The first few bumps in the road we encountered were anticipating user needs and stocking up on inventory. Even though we did our research, we relied on plenty of trial and error to find out what truly resonated with our customers.
Expanding the Team and Operations Reach
Pratt Industries helped provide the backbone of Brandable Box’s operations. We acquired a printer to start printing orders, along with a team expansion of one specialist to print and fulfill each and every order that came through.
We had our business and operations plans in place. Brandable Box as a brand and company was ready to launch.
Takeoff: First Few Orders
In April 2019, Brandable Box launched with a website, ads, and a bit of a push from Pratt. In the first few weeks, things picked up slowly. A new brand always comes with risks to customers, and our first few knew this. A handful of our very first customers made small orders, testing the waters to see if they would really receive their logo on a box. This was our chance to prove we could do it.
Our team handled the production of the orders well. Our printing specialist laid out the logos our customers uploaded, lined them up with the correct box size, and fed them through our printer. The end-product was just as we planned—a customer’s logo on the perfect sized box.
Then, we shipped out the orders. Problems arose quickly. As we shipped out the first few orders, we accidentally mixed them up with other orders. When our first customers received their order, it wasn’t their logo on their box.
Our customers handled the mixup surprisingly well. We quickly got the right orders to our patient customers and made changes to our shipping process so it wouldn’t happen again. Many of these first customers even came back to us to place additional orders.
As our orders continued rolling out, our customer base started growing quickly. Soon, we hit a milestone month for growth. Although our small team wanted to celebrate, we knew we needed to make some changes to accommodate the growth.
We doubled down on our operations, moving to a new team under Pratt dedicated to increasing efficiency. We invested in new equipment for our printer and moved our printing team to a larger area of the warehouse for smoother production and shipping.
Today, our new operations manager has our production team producing more efficiently than ever. We’ve doubled our output and our customer base, and we’re continuing to invest in ways to better serve our customers.
Where We Are Today
We’re still growing and we’re growing quickly, which sometimes leads to mistakes. We are listening to your requests, complaints, desires and feedback, and we’re learning from it. Our small but mighty team is working every day to improve our business so we can better serve you, our customers.
We want to bring the best experience to you. As we learn, we hope that as small business owners yourselves, you’ll understand if we mess up sometimes. We’ll keep learning and getting better, and we hope you’ll stay with us on our journey to bringing recycled custom boxes to every business.