eCommerce start-up

Aquaproofs is an online retailer selling industry-leading waterproof outdoor accessories, specialising in waterproof hats, gloves and socks. A somewhat newcomer to the outdoor pursuits industry, this small yet driven start-up is already getting its name out there - priding itself on offering the highest quality outdoor gear.

The challenge

Not enough time or resources to fulfil daily orders whilst continuing to grow demand.

As a small start-up business, Aquaproofs as a brand was fairly new to the eCommerce scene. And with it, the growing pains of a new business. Sitting on enough stock to fill a single garage, building the site and getting their products live via Shopify was no problem. Instead, it became increasingly difficult to fulfil orders whilst developing other areas of the business.

Orders steadily increased when they began to expand their range and stock more products – more so when they were featured in The Telegraph, where award-winning landscape and garden designer Bunny Guinness recommended their products for combating ‘soggy, cold feet from gardening in wet trainers’.

The online exposure saw an influx of traffic which led to a spike in sales.


With this influx, Aquaproofs would struggle to handle the growth if sales continued at that level. It’d become more difficult to stay on top of timescales and meet the needs of their customers, without letting their service level drop. Not to mention the cost involved in single-handedly sustaining that level of growth. 

There posed the ultimatum: find an in-house solution at a reasonable cost or outsource to an affordable 3PL.

In-house fulfilment is great when you can do it, but it does come with its issues. The main one being cost. An increase in sales requires an increase in staff, and Aquaproofs would have to hire a warehouse operative to get orders out the door. Which leads to another problem – space. They would need to upgrade their current garage space by renting a small warehouse.

As every eCommerce business knows, staff and storage don’t come cheap.

Aquaproofs would end up spending at least £20k+ – and that’s before even taking things like shipping costs into account. Shipping costs that would be much higher due to the relatively small quantities being sent, and therefore wouldn’t warrant shipping discounts. 

The second issue is hassle. It takes a great deal of time and effort to source suitable storage, recruit staff, track shipping and keep your business ticking along – let alone waiting for couriers to arrive with deliveries or collect parcels for shipping. Leaving no time to focus on growth and other areas of development. 

Whereas if they chose to hand the responsibility over to a 3PL, they’d remove all the pressure of managing it themselves. Aquaproofs would be able to keep a lean, agile team and have more time to focus on product development, customer satisfaction and marketing – leaving the 3PL to deal with the burden of order fulfilment.

Combined with access to an experienced team, a secure storage facility and discounted shipping rates – all wrapped up in an easy-to-use software – opting for a 3PL seemed to be the most sensible and cost-effective solution for Aquaproofs.

‘We were thrilled to see our name in The Telegraph and a surge of sales off the back of it – the kind of surge we wanted to be a regular thing. But we knew the costs involved in maintaining that level of growth in-house. We were at a really crucial point where we had to weigh up the pros and cons of doing it ourselves, and when the cons came out on top, we started looking into 3PLs.’ – Aquaproofs

The solution

Outsource their order fulfilment to a start-up-friendly 3PL.

In this case, it was simple for Aquaproofs. They needed to outsource their order fulfilment to a 3PL that could manage lower volumes of orders, but still deliver a high quality service for their customers at a reasonable cost.

Specialising in small to medium businesses, we were easily able to take on their fulfilment needs. By relocating their stock to our warehouse, processing their orders with our pick and packing and managing their returns, we were able to free up their time (and remove the headache of it all) to focus on growth and brand awareness.

‘We felt a bit out of our depth when searching for 3PLs – with many working with businesses who send 20,000 orders a month. We’re around 300 a month! Then we came across Parcel Master who were more than happy to take a start-up like us on and walked us through the entire process.

‘They weren’t the cheapest, but we’d read about cheaper services not being reliable enough. We wanted affordable quality, which Parcel Master provided.’ – Aquaproofs

We integrated their existing platform (Shopify) with our software, allowing Aquaproofs to have complete control and visibility over their stock and orders, whilst no longer having to do the heavy lifting.

The success

More time to focus on brand development and business growth.

With their products facing big competitors like Sealskinz, their goal wasn’t (and isn’t) necessarily to reach the same level of success, but to act as an alternative retailer for customers who would typically buy from Amazon.

The differentiator is that Aquaproofs cherry-pick their products – branding themselves as a retailer that only sells the best outdoor accessories, not every outdoor accessory.

Using our order fulfilment services, we provided Aquaproofs the time and breathing space they craved to focus on developing their brand and its growth potential.

And it’s been successful so far, with nothing but 5-star reviews from their customers about both the product and Parcel Master’s delivery services:


‘Having read Bunny Guinness’s recommendation, I did not hesitate to order as a Christmas present for my very active daughter. Well packaged and speedy delivery. The product looks excellent.’ – Judith Hand

‘Absolutely the best beanie I have owned. Very comfortable and warm, brilliant quality, worth every penny.’ – Philip Day

‘Speedy delivery, bought as presents.’ – Anonymous

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