Plant Therapy takes control as Amazon struggles to keep up

Exclusive interview with Plant Therapy’s EVP Paul Stanger on how they are successfully meeting demand in the face of the virus COVID-19.

If you compare Plant Therapy’s order types from January to mid-March, the top 10 products look strikingly different. Where varying lavender scent mixes use to dominate the top spots, now germ fighters, germ destroyers, and immune aids have taken over. This drastic product type change has also caused tremendous spikes in demand—four times more than normal for Plant Therapy—as hand sanitizer became harder to find during the COVID-19 outbreak.

A conversation with Paul Stanger, the Executive Vice President of Plant Therapy, provided a first-hand view of the Plant Therapy supply chain’s reaction to COVID-19.

What challenges is your team facing due to the drastic spikes these past few weeks?

The biggest challenge for us has been the lack of time to prepare. These spikes happened overnight as COVID-19 revealed itself as a bigger issue and hand sanitizer could no longer be found on grocery store shelves. Fulfilling the increased orders while also following the CDC guidelines, such as social distancing and congregating in groups of 10 or less, has been a challenge for us, and we had to get creative. 

We want our people to feel safe at work, so we quickly created multiple shifts to keep smaller, separate groups. And we put up temporary walls in the facility to limit contact. Before the outbreak, we had one day shift. As the situation progressed, however, we separated our staff into three shifts: day, night, and weekend. If one group is quarantined, the other two groups can remain fully functional. 

What is Plant Therapy doing differently now to help keep up with demand?

Fortunately, it was more cost-effective for us to have a 6-12 month supply of most essential oils since we use third-party testing for each batch of oils. In an effort to help people, we used the aloe vera we had on hand to launch a hand sanitizer. This aloe vera hand sanitizer sold out in nine minutes!

Unfortunately, due to ingredient restraints on the market, we have been unable to produce more aloe vera hand sanitizer. However, we are rushing to launch a new hand sanitizer. This hand sanitizer we have been working on for our permanent product line and are launching sooner than planned to help.

How has your technology stack been holding up against these spikes in demand? 

Before implementing Deposco, we had no visibility into where inventory was located. Because of this lack of visibility, it would take much longer to fulfill orders. Deposco has been a great partner for us during this time. The Deposco team has created more dashboards for us. These provide a quick view of our order volume. As well as top SKUs, and reports of how many order lines exist per item. We have had some overselling issues, but that is due to our ERP system not processing sold inventory fast enough. Overall we have been operating very well during this time, even with Black Friday peaks every day. 

Deposco has been a great partner for us before and during COVID-19. I don’t know how we would keep up with the high demand if we didn’t have the visibility and processes in place thanks to Deposco.

Paul Stanger, EVP, Plant Therapy

How did Plant Therapy react to the FBA shutdown during COVID-19?

Early on during COVID-19, we saw products listed on and fulfilled by Amazon go out of stock out very quickly. Many of these common FBA items, which would normally deplete in a month or two, sold out in just one day. Most of our items, such as the germ fighter line, are marked as essential. However, other products have not, so Amazon currently will not fulfill those products for us. For these nonessential products, we were able to easily pull them out of FBA and fulfill them ourselves using Deposco. 

Using Deposco to fulfill our website needs, has allowed us to take control of fulfilling our nonessential Fulfilled by Amazon items

Paul Stanger, EVP, Plant Therapy

Key Takeaways:

1. Using flexible technology, like Deposco, allowed for an agile response to market demand.

2. Creating a rapid diversification of sales channels in the response to COVID-19 impact.

3. The Plant Therapy team is empowered to implement changes within Deposco without relying on a third party.

4. Adjusting warehouse environments to create a safe working environment for warehouse staff.

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Author

Carina Wingel the Marketing Director at Deposco