Case Study

Fulfillment & Freight Forwarding from a Single Source Saves Ela Mo Time and Headspace

Family-run, successful and sustainable. Ela Mo was founded by Fabian and his wife at the kitchen table in 2017. Their growth of over 100 percent year over year has made them a substantial player amongst carrier bag and backpack brands. The founding couple wanted to inspire their customers to be adventurous and go their own way with their well-designed bags.

For the first couple of years, Ela Mo focused on selling via Amazon. Though eventually, due to their strong growth in organic search volume, and their desire for a closer relationship with their customers, the pair opened their first online shop in 2019. But what was it that made Ela Mo so successful?

“Customer centricity! We focus on our customers. What makes a product a good product? What do our customers want and need? These questions are at the heart of what we do and how we keep improving. That is how we have managed to build a brand together that we and our team can make a living from.” – Co-founder Fabian.

Fabian, co-founder of Ela Mo
Fabian, co-founder of Ela Mo

To stay in close contact with their customer and continue to build up their online community, the founding couple is looking to find new channels to speak directly with them. They have already been successful on Instagram, are trying out TikTok, and are keeping a close eye on Pinterest as a relevant channel. This desire to be close to the customer means they also have no plans to sell via a third party and wish to keep their presence online as a D2C brand.

“It is not an option for us to sell in Karstadt or Intersport (two well known retailers in Germany, similar to John Lewis in the UK or Macy’s in the US). We might try a pop-up store one day but currently we have no plans to resell at a traditional brick-and-mortar store”, says co-founder Fabian. “With Ela Mo we want to be in direct contact with our customer and this would be lost if we were to resell through a third party.”

Being customer-centric is also one of Hive’s core values, which was one of the deciding factors as to why the couple chose them as a fulfillment partner in May 2021. Ela Mo and Hive are both focused on continuously developing their respective products as well as following modern, progressive business principles, making them ideal partners.

Saving time and money thanks to freight with Hive

A time-consuming challenge for the founders was organizing the freight of their goods from the production site in China to Hive’s fulfillment center in Rangsdorf, Berlin. But luckily, Hive had expanded its services in mid 2021, offering freight forwarding directly via the platform. This service is helpful to many D2C brands as it takes out the extra work for them dealing with various different shipping companies. Hive carefully compares the prices and times of freight partner companies and offers the most economical solution. This cuts costs and complexity for the D2C brand, as there is just one go-to contact for the complete supply chain.

This meant that the concern about freight forwarding was quickly resolved for the founders of Ela Mo, and they were able to kick off the process in August 2021. That month, the first shipment of goods was sent from the production halls of a small, owner-managed partner company in the Chinese province of Fujian to Hive's BER2 fulfillment center in Rangsdorf.

“Peace of mind” is what we are after, says co-founder Fabian. “With Hive on our side, we can sleep soundly at night.” Before this freight forwarding solution, Fabian spent up to fifteen hours per month researching and organizing overseas logistics. And with the current tense situation with global supply chains, this number just kept on rising.

“We had no certainty when it came to good shipping times and prices. In this constantly changing environment, it is especially important to us that we are working with a partner which is always looking out for and analyzing the most competitive terms.” – Fabian, co-founder of Ela Mo

Logistics is not Fabian's expertise. Staying on top of things and continually negotiating takes a lot of time and energy. These resources are much better invested in product development and excellent marketing. He leaves logistics to the professionals - Hive.

woman wearing an Ela Mo backpack

Customer comes first – sustainable products and relationships

For the founding couple, a crucial factor in selecting a fulfillment provider was a strong foundation of trust.

"When we hand over an essential part of the value chain, namely the delivery of new products, we have to be 100 percent confident that it will work." – Fabian, co-Founder of Ela Mo.

“Having a contact person who always gets back to us within a few hours with a comprehensive answer gives us exactly the security we need.” 

This quick feedback also makes up part of Ela Mo's high quality service to their customers. For Fabian, the first priority is that the customer is happy with the product. In fact, they will even cover the cost of repairs of the backpacks if they are damaged by normal use.

Sustainability is an important topic for the founding couple. It was paramount to them that their backpacks would last a long time without breaking and be CO2 neutral. With Hive as their logistics partner, Ela Mo could use rail freight to easily get their products from production site to the fulfillment center. This service with Hive saves the planet’s natural resources, and also those of the founders. 

The recycled materials that make an ela mo bag

Making the right use of freed-up resources

Co-founder Fabian is carefully steering Ela Mo’s growth course. New product development and designs are driving the brand's expansion. Plus, Hive's entry into new markets opens up just as many expansion opportunities for them.  

Hive's freight service represents just one of the many opportunities for collaboration. In the future, Fabian can also imagine using some of the other services that Hive offers. One example would be opening up a new market via direct injection. This is a process where parcels are transported directly to the target market and then shipped at local prices, avoiding pricey and lengthy shipping and overheads from other carriers. This approach cuts costs for the customer and therefore makes them more likely to purchase.

The founding duo sees their brand taking on many markets in the future. A long-term collaboration with Hive will simplify scaling in markets such as France or Italy. To this end, Hive is currently building a large network of fulfillment centers across Europe. Hive's goal is to help customers expand and provide nationwide delivery times of less than two days. 

If a pan-European service like this is also of interest to your D2C brand, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss our pan-European fulfillment solution for your company.

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