“There’s no way we could’ve managed the volume of orders we receive at Christmas now. Outsourcing was definitely the right thing to do.”
The Literary Gift Company was founded in 2009 by Dani Hall. Having worked for Waterstones – the major UK bookshop chain – she was familiar with the literary world and spotted a gap in the market.
“I knew book lovers would also love beautiful, bookish things,” she says. “I thought there’d be a good audience for literary gifts, so I started the business at home, in my spare time.”
Creating a selection of exclusive literary gifts
As The Literary Gift Company grew – and competitors began to imitate it – Dani worked hard to ensure it remained the biggest and the best. Collaborating with artists, authors and publishers, she created a diverse selection of clothing, accessories, stationary, games and more.
“Early on, we started to develop our own products, rather than buying from suppliers,” Dani explains. “While other retailers try to get their products on as many marketplaces as possible, we try to protect ours and ensure they’re only available on our website. As a small business, we can have an idea and get it on sale in just a couple of weeks.”
Growing the business causes logistical problems
By 2014, Dani’s strategy was paying off. The Literary Gift Company had moved into offices, hired its first staff and launched a spin-off site – Present Indicative – which sells similarly intelligent gifts, but to non-fiction fans.
The popularity of the sites was causing logistical problems, however. This prompted Dani to look into outsourced fulfillment.
“We were running out of space,” she says. “Where we’re based in Reading, it’s not easy to find mixed use office and storage. Even if we did find somewhere, it would be expensive to have something big enough to cope with the extremes of Christmas. We wouldn’t need all of the space all year round.”
Outsourcing fulfillment is the right thing to do
With The Literary Gift Company taking half of its annual orders in Q4, Dani realized it would be more cost-effective to outsource.
She has no regrets.
“At the busiest times of year, we were struggling to keep up with orders and working quite odd hours, There’s no way we could’ve managed the volume of orders we receive at Christmas now. Outsourcing was definitely the right thing to do.”
Outsourcing fulfillment provides the time to grow
Using James and James has enabled The Literary Gift Company to grow at an impressive rate – the business has more than doubled its turnover in the last four years and now has over 2,000 gifts in its range.
Dani cites James and James’s ControlPort technology, integration with Shopify and adaptable service as key benefits. The biggest, however, has been the time she’s saved.
“Part of the reason for outsourcing was to spend more time planning – thinking about next year and the year after, not how many orders are coming in tomorrow,” says Dani.
The Literary Gift Company has used this time for new product development, stock control, marketing, strategy and more. So what is Dani’s advice to other online retailers?
“If you’re looking to develop your business, outsourcing your fulfillment is an opportunity to focus. It gives you the brain-space to think about growth, not worry about the day-to-day.”
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