Case Study

Sarah Edmonds Illustration

Small Business

Business impact

Enabled the business to sell to more stockists and new markets

Seamlessly integrated with marketplaces and the business website

Ensured a consistent customer experience for all customers

Sarah Edmonds Illustration upgrades their eCommerce order fulfilment to enable their businesses to grow

“I couldn’t have grown to the point I have now without GFS Fulfilment!”

Sarah Edmonds, a self-taught illustrator, started her online business with a single illustration selling as prints and cards on Etsy. Combining her love of illustration, nature, and wordplay, her cheeky puns became popular across marketplaces, craft markets, and independent shops. As her business and product line grew, in 2017 she began working with a local order fulfilment business to take the packaging and dispatch out of her hands so she could focus more on her illustration.

“I just knew that I wouldn’t have time to do anymore designing or promotion unless I got someone else to pack the orders. There was only one of me and I wanted to be able to grow, and felt I couldn’t grow beyond where I was because I didn’t have any time.”

During the Pandemic

As many eCommerce businesses found in 2020, Sarah’s sales grew very quickly as an increasing number of people were shopping online.

“During the pandemic, the business grew exponentially, as much of online shopping did with people working from home. It absolutely boomed, and I was having to handle much bigger volumes of stock to keep up with huge volumes of orders.”

Whilst working with the local fulfilment warehouse had allowed her business to grow and build new retail partnerships, by Christmas 2020 she found that her volumes were growing faster than their facility could handle.

“Things were growing so much. Work was getting ordered by shops up and down the country and beyond the UK, so I was having much bigger order volumes going out.”

Need to Support Growth

Sarah realised that she needed a fulfilment service that could support her growth. She also recognised the need for an order management system so she could manage stock and handle any customer queries easily. Sarah wanted to find a fulfilment partner that was as passionate about her products and the customer experience as she was, and would take as much care as she did over packaging her products. After a recommendation from NotOnTheHighStreet, who had an existing integration in place with GFS, Sarah found all that she needed with GFS and the partnership started in July 2021, and within no time, she was able to tailor her operations and GFS became an extension of the business.

With GFS

Sarah was able to entrust GFS with everything and feels that GFS ‘got’ her business and wasn’t just a faceless drop ship company. Whether it was specific bespoke packaging requests or packaging up mugs ready for customers when bulk orders come in, Sarah is safe in the knowledge that GFS can take care of it. When it came to the two different sides of her business — selling direct to customers and to retailers, GFS could offer a bespoke costing that was specific to Sarah’s business needs.

Working with GFS enabled Sarah to use the GFS portal to see whether orders were dispatched and which carrier they were with to quickly answer any customer queries. It also enabled her to quickly check stock levels to assess how much to order.

“Before I was having to be quite reactive to what was happening in terms of orders and not having a system to manage it, whereas when working with GFS, we felt very proactive, so we brought in a huge amount of new products into the range.”

When Sarah decided to build her own website to sell directly to customers alongside marketplaces, she worked with GFS on seamless integration with Shopify to plug the order management system into their new website.

“Our website has a reciprocal relationship with the warehouse management system, so it downloads the order and the order details and once that is sent, it feeds back to mark it as dispatched from our system. So we don’t actually need to do anything, it runs like a very well-oiled machine!”

Peak Planning

When it came to Peak 2021, Sarah’s new partnership with GFS meant that she was able to plan ahead effectively in early September with the support of her GFS account manager. She was also safe in the knowledge that GFS could handle any unexpected volumes. Unlike Peak 2020 before working with GFS, Sarah didn’t have to turn off her selling at any point due to volumes, enabling her to keep selling throughout.

“In 2020 due to my order volumes, I did actually have to put my stores on hold at the beginning of December because we were so overwhelmed with orders and I felt very safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to do that with GFS.”

Update from Peak 2023

“We have just completed another successful Christmas sales season in partnership with GFS. The team has been outstanding to work with in all areas – from receiving and monitoring stock to packing and sending out each order with great care and attention.

This year has seen growth for the trade side of our business, in particular with a flagship stockist in the US. These larger shipments have required additional documents and the whole process has been handled very efficiently. We’re looking forward to developing our collection and reach further this year and know that GFS will be a very valuable asset for achieving this. The whole team is very knowledgeable and always manages the flow of our stock and orders beautifully!

We had some expected (and unexpected) family commitments in 2023 so it was a huge relief to know that our business was in very safe hands while we weren’t at our desks as much. We also welcomed the addition of our assistant Tanya – she’s got a lot of experience working with fulfilment warehouses and customer service and has commented on how great and efficient the GFS team are in handling the increased order volumes and shipping queries at peak season. Huge thanks to you all for being a part of Sarah Edmonds Illustration – bring on 2024!”

International Selling

GFS has made opening up sales to markets beyond the UK easier for Sarah. Whether it’s sorting out samples to send out to retailers in the US, or sending out big shipments, GFS has it sorted.

“It was just so easy to send out all kinds of different things from one-off orders to a sample pack with a certain presentation, to a bulk order with all of the right paperwork to ensure that it arrives smoothly. I felt very supported by GFS with all the international logistics”

So, what’s next? Sarah is now easily able to scale to international markets, and reach out to more stockists and clients without worrying about capacity. More recently, she’s shipped a whole new calendar range being stocked at Barnes & Noble in the US! With GFS the possibilities are endless!

About the company

  • An independent business selling a collection of playful puns, hilarious homewares and nature-inspired gifts.
  • Founded by Sarah Edmonds, the business started with one illustration and has become a fast-growing eCommerce business.
  • Selling across NotOnTheHighStreet, Etsy, independent shops, and bigger chains across the world, as well as on their own online shop.

The need

  • To ensure a consistent customer experience whilst having the flexibility to adapt to both big order volumes and individual orders
  • To have an efficient stock management system to streamline order processes
  • To enable continued business growth

The GFS solution

  • GFS Logistics
  • GFS Fulfilment

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