What do you do when a global pandemic threatens your supply chain operations? No business can afford to come to a standstill. Your cargo needs to keep moving – especially if your products are an essential item like nappies. But not just any kind of nappy, the kind that helps to reduce the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of disposable nappies that go into landfill every day.
Philip Hutchinson, Merchandise and Logistics Director at Ecoriginals, knows this scenario first hand. He shares with us how Ecoriginals is managing to successfully navigate a turbulent logistics market, and how partnering with Explorate plays a key role in that success: “It’s not just about Explorate’s platform and systems, it’s about the human factor. Their operators always pick up the phone or send you an email rather than simply rely on a platform.”
Can you tell us about Ecoriginals and your role in the organisation?
PH: Ecoriginals is a sustainable nappy company created in 2011. It was the first brand to offer parents a genuine biodegradable alternative to traditional disposable nappies and wipes, so they don’t sit in landfill for a million years like the plastic ones. Our nappies are 90+% biodegradable with home compostable packaging. I look after all the supply chain logistics and all of the operational aspects of the business.
Can you give us an overview of your supply chain?
PH: The supply chain is mainly bringing products from New Zealand and China into Australia, the US and the UK. It’s almost entirely full container loads, usually 40 foot containers. We are probably moving about two or three containers a month at this point, from the various places I mentioned to where our customers are. Los Angeles, Dallas, London, Sydney and Melbourne are the five main areas at the moment.
Obviously COVID impacted supply chains globally, how did Explorate help Ecoriginals through this period of disruption? What impact has it had on your supply chain?
PH: The two key factors are visibility and transparency. Explorate gives us a lot clearer visibility around our sea freight, both in terms of cost and timing. This is particularly important for a fast growing business and when working in a very volatile environment, which has been the case over the last year. Another great thing is Explorate’s responsiveness and flexibility. If you need to move dates around or something is going to be late, they have a very quick responsiveness around it, they try to pivot to whatever new plan you need.
Do you think that is the main difference between Explorate and a traditional freight forwarder?
PH: Yes, absolutely. They have a level of transparency you don’t usually see around in freight forwarders, and flexibility. Often with freight forwarders, you get one price, one option to work with. Explorate presents a few, especially if you describe to them what your goals are.
What’s your favourite feature in the app?
PH: The live status in their platform and, hand-in-hand with that, the notifications for any changes. We know the second something has changed, and that gives us the chance to potentially do something about it if we need to. The quarterly report is also really good and I’m working with the team to further dive into that data.
What are your thoughts around sustainability in the supply chain?
PH: We are very happy with the direction Explorate is going around carbon tracking and carbon offset, which fits really well with the ethos of our business. They are genuinely doing it. With some other freight forwarders there’s a lot of greenwashing around it. We are happy to list Explorate as our partners to help us achieve our sustainability goals.
Finding a freight forwarder that can really meet your business’ needs is key. As Philip says, it’s about finding a partner to help you achieve your logistics goals – finding one who is transparent and flexible when you need it most, can make a huge difference when navigating in turbulent waters.