Asendia’s Karen O Farrell learns how a hot London-based company is delivering its cool reusable water bottles to customers across Europe, and where it plans to go next.
How do you make a water bottle cool? Chilly’s has the answer, both literally and figuratively. In 2010, the brand began selling its insulated, reusable water bottles – which are capable of keeping their contents cold for a full day – from a stall at London’s Camden Market. Now Chilly’s is selling more than 500,000 bottles a year. I spoke with Chilly’s founder James Butterfield to find out how Asendia is helping make the reusable water bottle the ultimate fashion accessory in Europe.
Karen O Farrell: Can you tell me a little about why you started up Chilly’s?
James Butterfield: Chilly’s was founded in 2010 with the aim of providing people with the ability to always have cold water on-the-go, without having to buy single-use plastic water bottles. The result was the Chilly’s Bottle. A modern and stylish product designed to combine the convenience of a plastic water bottle, with the high-performance technology and eco-friendly benefits of a traditional flask.
We ordered 500 black water bottles (which I stacked around my bed at my parents’ house) and began to sell them in Camden. Now we have a range of designs and finishes, and a projected turnover of over £5m for the year. We've had 400 per cent year-on-year growth for the past two years, and are on course to sell over half a million bottles this year.
In pursuit of our mission we have now expanded the range to include a wider selection of reusable products with many more exciting products in development!
KOF: Wow! What’s driven your growth?
JB: The big change came for us when we started investing in Facebook advertising and directing people back to the Chilly’s website. By Christmas 2015, we’d got to the size where we could give up our jobs and start growing distribution across Europe, New Zealand and the Nordics. To be able to do that, we needed to find the best international shipping option.
KOF: What were your requirements in terms of fulfilment services?
JB: We had been working with another fulfilment centre that had been perfect for our needs as long as we were small and only shipping to the UK because we only paid them when we sold something. When we really started growing and replicating what we’d been doing in the UK in Europe, our needs changed. We needed to be able to track international post and have better stock control; we needed a global fulfilment expert.
That's why we moved to Asendia. It was far more established and experienced, and had the expertise we needed. It was able to give us the best route to Europe from the UK, with all orders going from a single warehouse. This really helped with stock management, which is important because storing stock in another country requires you to set up as a business in that country. Working with Asendia made a process that could have been very complex very simple.
KOF: How crucial is it for your business to get e-commerce shipping right?
JB: It’s absolutely crucial. People don’t like getting to the checkout and finding the price of the goods they want is higher because they have to pay for delivery, so as a business we needed to find a cost-effective solution. Fulfilment can also be frustrating: if people have a bad experience, they’re not going to come back. They have busy lives. They don’t want to be thinking about when a parcel is going to be delivered. They don’t want to have to wait five days for a delivery. It needs to be quick and free.
We use Asendia’s Premium Goods fully-tracked service, which taps into local couriers and the postal network. This allows us to offer free delivery on all orders over £10 or €10. It’s amazing; it means we can reach people in Europe in and get our products to them in an affordable and timely manner. And our customers are kept in the loop at every point in the delivery journey.
KOF: What’s next for Chilly’s?
JB: Our big targets for next year are Australia, the US and further product development.
People are definitely becoming more aware of the need to reduce their use of plastic. Our big belief is that people are creatures of habit. If they’re going to stop using single-use plastic bottles, they have to be given a good reason to do so. We think Chilly’s is it.