Malabar Bay specializes in fashionable resort wear, loungewear and pajamas, and is well-known for its beautiful fabrics and broad array of patterns.
Going the extra mile
Loungewear brand Malabar Bay was born in 2003 when founder Lalan Shrikam saw an emerging market niche: fashionable resort wear, loungewear and pajamas for discerning consumers. Today, Malabar Bay is well-known for its beautiful fabrics and broad array of patterns. The company, which is a family-owned business, takes pride in its team and its customers – going the extra mile to make sure its customer service remains top-notch.
A commitment to evolving quickly and keeping pace with changing consumer tastes in a fast-changing retail environment has enabled Malabar Bay to thrive. The firm began as a niche destination, offering a broad selection of items direct to consumers. Then, after the 2008 economic downturn, Malabar Bay shifted to a B2B strategy, signing agreements with both big-box retailers and a constellation of 500 smaller independent stores. Its wholesale business grew with the addition of an Amazon Store and agreements with Guilt Group and Wayfair.
To reinvigorate its direct-to-consumer channel with a more sophisticated website, Malabar Bay invested in Shopify and Magento Enterprise. However, its back-end accounting and inventory systems, which were based on QuickBooks, struggled to keep pace, leading Shrikam to look for a retail operations system that could enable non-technical people to manage its growing list of SKUs and burgeoning retail and wholesale customer base.
Malabar Bay’s objective was to stay nimble and efficient, so the firm needed a back-office retail solution that was easy to run and that could scale. They found that Brightpearl had the same mission, so they implemented the platform to manage inventory and combine wholesale and retail operations into one system.
“Without Brightpearl to get us through our early growing pains, our future would have looked far different,” comments Lalan Shrikam, Founder, Malabar Bay.
With inventory management under control with Brightpearl, profitability improved. To further reduce costs and boost efficiency, Malabar Bay centralized operations in a fulfillment center and implemented Brightpearl’s inventory planning techniques.
Today, customer expectations are set extremely high by retailers that invest massively in the entire purchasing journey, so Shrikam wisely looked for Malabar Bay to focus on developing excellent end-to-end customer journeys.
Shrikam says: “Shoppers want a user-friendly website, with accurate product descriptions and sizes. Once you get those front-end fundamentals ironed out, then everything becomes an entirely operations-driven game. Brands must remember they are competing with Amazon. Customers want ease of purchase – but they also want their products as quickly as possible. They can count on that with Amazon, so as a retailer, you must be able to offer similar convenience, personalization and speedy fulfillment. Brightpearl enables us to deliver in all three areas.”
Malabar Bay now relies on Brightpearl’s platform to meet the rising delivery expectations of its customers. Shrikam says: “When a customer places an order, we first need to know that it’s in stock, and then we need to get it out as quickly as possible. Brightpearl’s integration with ShipStation makes it possible to get an item out of the door and delivered to the customer at the fastest possible rate.”
Order delays and inaccuracies, once a problem, are no longer a factor. “Stockouts and delays frustrate customers immensely and leave a bad taste in their mouth,” says Shrikam. “Fortunately, that’s no longer a problem for us. We now have real-time visibility over our entire inventory, which is so beneficial for delivering seamless shopping experiences. We can also identify issues and, more importantly, resolve them quickly. We reduced our 12% error rate to 2% within two years – Brightpearl made that possible.”
Post-purchase, Malabar Bay customers are continually updated on order progress, part of the all-encompassing experience that Shrikam credits to the advanced functionality of the Brightpearl platform. “Brightpearl’s real-time tracking keeps us posted on where an order is at any stage of the journey. If there’s an issue, we’re instantly notified so we can connect with the customer and head off any problems. It’s little details such as these that help us to deliver superior experiences that our customers love.”
These factors all help Malabar Bay deliver superior experiences, which are well-received by its buyers. The firm now reports 100% feedback in terms of customer satisfaction and credits Brightpearl for playing a key role in keeping its customers happy.
This is reinforced by the repeat customer rate that Malabar Bay is now observing. By focusing on perfecting the retail experience, the company has created a loyal customer base. “Today, one in five customers return to buy within six months, a trend that is accelerating – whilst our average order size has also increased,” says Shrikam.
In addition, more orders can now be traced to referrals – an important indicator of positive customer goodwill. “Our most-proud moments come from customers who not only call to rave about our collections, but come back time and time again because they know they can count on us,” adds Shrikam.
A dual-channel strategy
While retail customers may be their most vocal fans, Malabar Bay has set the customer experience bar equally high to attract and retain wholesale partners. Shrikam notes that providing a great experience is important for both retail and wholesale customers – and it can really set a company apart in the B2B space.
The team uses Brightpearl to handle free on board (FOB) shipping and freight calculations and has now improved visibility into margins in an industry where competitive pricing is paramount. Wholesale customer orders are now fulfilled quickly and efficiently, building loyalty with a valuable channel that broadens exposure for the Malabar Bay brand.
“You know you’re on the right track when three wholesale customers stop by your booth at a trade show to say how easy it is to work with you,” comments Shrikam. “One recently told me: ‘Sometimes I order at 12pm and the item is with me the next day. Your competitors just aren’t that good.’”
This is due to Malabar’s Bay efficient order management system – underpinned by the Brightpearl platform – which enables the firm to ship out 80% of its orders on the same day that they’re placed.
Brightpearl has been instrumental in transforming Malabar Bay into a hugely successful retail brand that can scale and adapt to shifting consumer tastes. The success has even seen the launch of another brand, Jaye’s Studio, which offers lounge and decorative accessories, and is also supported by Brightpearl. Shrikam sees the operations as being poised for new opportunities as a result. “Brightpearl has equipped us with the tools to run our businesses incredibly efficiently. There’s no doubt in my mind that companies of the future will have to operate like this.”
Of orders are shipped same day
Reduction in errors
1 in 5
Customers return to buy within 6 months