Case Study

How The Closest Loop managed an order growth of 1500% overnight after appearing on Germany’s Shark Tank

Creating new solutions to old problems. This is a shared mission of both The Closest Loop, an innovative startup creating sustainable cleaning products, and Hive, their new operations partner. Leo and Nick founded their company after seeing how seemingly sustainable home cleaning products were shipped from halfway around the world, or used non-recycled materials that would not easily biodegrade. They created an ecological sponge made out of the loofah plant, grown locally in Europe, primarily in Germany, to help tackle this environmental problem.

The pair were originally fulfilling orders from their living room, but after a successful trip into Die Höhle der Löwen (a German version of Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den) they realized they needed a scalable solution to fulfilling orders. But how did The Closest Loop manage such massive overnight growth?

co-founders of the closest loop, leo and nick
Founders of The Closest Loop, Leo and Nick

Sharing expertise to fuel growth

Once the founding pair knew the date when they would appear on German national television they knew they would have to prepare for a huge influx of orders. Leo and Nick had never fulfilled such a large order volume before and needed the operational expertise from Hive. 

“Our biggest challenge was being such a small team of two people. We had to take care of everything ourselves. That is why we were super happy to have Hive on our side to support us not only with fulfillment but with operations knowledge to help us grow.”

Hive’s team were able to show them how the order fulfillment process works, from pick and pack to delivery. Having a trusted partner they could count on to provide operational excellence calmed some of the pre-airing nerves and gave them peace of mind entering the situation.

Turning new customers into loyal customers

Since the TV episode exposed the company to so many new potential customers, it was crucial for Leo and Nick that everything ran smoothly and that customers had their orders filled correctly and in good time. The TV episode aired on April 25, leading to a huge order influx from excited new customers. The pair received roughly 1500 orders in one night – clearly far too many to have fulfilled from their living room.

To help with so many orders coming in within such a short period of time, Hive’s team created a custom alert to make sure the founders were aware when the stock hit a critical level. Since The Closest Loop sells mostly bundles, managing inventory numbers via Shopify alone is complicated, and this custom alert helped them avoid an out-of-stock situation with unfulfilled or open orders. 

Having such a proactive team on the technical side combined with the efficient pickers and packers in the fulfillment center meant that The Closest Loop were able to deliver their orders in good time despite the huge volume. 

“Having such dedicated, personalized support from the Hive team helped us navigate the largest order volume we had ever experienced for our business. The team was on hand to help us at every point.”

sponges made out of vegetables from the closest loop

Sustainability stays strong even when scaling

Sustainability is at the core of The Closest Loop. They aim to create a sustainable, accessible option with their reusable, biodegradable sponges. Hive is aligned with this mission, supporting The Closest Loop wherever possible with sustainable solutions across the supply chain

One solution was with packaging. Leo was particularly happy that there were many new packaging options available to her, giving her more options to find the right sized boxes for her products. Before working with Hive, Leo and Nick only had two different sized boxes, meaning that there might be extra space in a larger box if an order was just too big for the small box. 

“Sustainable packaging is super important to us and our customers. Having access to the different sized boxes from Hive means we can save on packaging since we can optimize for the best sized box.” – Leo.

Minimizing the amount of materials used also came into play in the fulfillment center, where Leo worked with the Hive team to make sure there was no single-use material being used in the storage of their products. Hive was the only fulfillment partner they approached which would store the products just with the hang tags to reduce any waste packaging materials.

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and that translates into every step of the supply chain. We were very glad that Hive was on board with this core value.” – Leo

Successful scaling and optimized processes

The founders were also looking for a scalable solution to their operations, especially after experiencing some supply chain issues in the previous year. Since switching to Hive, the founding pair can order and store higher volumes of product from their supplier in Germany. This helps them create a buffer of stock in case anything might happen with the loofah crop. “Our company was greatly affected by the flooding in Germany in 2021,” Leo explains, “we lost around 80% of our crop.”

Having a product dependent on organic produce means it will always be vulnerable to fluctuations, but knowing that there is a higher volume stored in Hive’s fulfillment center gives the founders some peace of mind. “Being able to store larger volumes not only helps us scale our business but also protects us from going out-of-stock should anything happen with the crop” Leo explains.

sponges made from loofah from the closest loop

The Closest Loop continues with their mission

Switching to fulfillment with Hive was not just beneficial for the night of Die Höhle der Löwen however. The team are excited about the freed up time that they used to spend managing operations and packing orders on the living room floor. They now have time to focus on marketing and strategy, to make sure their product becomes well known in households across Germany, and revolutionizes the way we think about cleaning materials. 

“We are super excited about the time we can now invest in our business strategy, focusing our energies on learning more and activating new marketing channels to help consumers know that there is a more sustainable option out there.” – Leo.

If you are a startup like The Closest Loop looking to outsource operations and benefit from the expertise and scalability of a 3PL partner, please get in touch. As a startup we understand the need to grow flexibly, and offer no minimum order volume or contract duration.

Get in touch

At Hive we know about the individual and special needs of different products and markets – and we cater to them. If you are looking for a new fulfillment partner, reach out directly and request a quote here.

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