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Awana is a nonprofit organization that has been providing religious education resources to churches and families around the globe for over 70 years. Its mission? To reach kids, equip leaders and change the world.

The Goal

From books to badges and gifts to games, Awana has an extremely large catalog with nearly a thousand products across dozens of categories. Originally, Awana managed its own fulfillment, but as the organization grew, it made the decision to outsource fulfillment to keep its focus on the core mission.

During its peak season, which runs from August through October, Awana processes orders for thousands of products per day. Because the size and weight of the products vary greatly, special attention needs to be given to packing and shipping orders efficiently. The organization’s previous third-party logistics (3PL) provider didn’t take the time to understand this model or make sure processes were optimized to handle such a large order volume. Errors ranged from “wrong items in the box, missing items, items incorrectly picked or miscounted and poorly packed boxes.” Heavy books were thrown in the “bottom of a box with no dunnage and one piece of tape. Items were showing up completely destroyed.”

"Our mission is to reach kids. If our distributor is not understanding that, not making sure the right product gets where it needs to be when it’s supposed to be there, it has a significant impact."

- Kevin White, Chief Operating Officer

Many children that attend Awana come from underserved communities, so their weekly class very well may be the highlight of their week. With orders arriving damaged, and some not arriving at all due to issues with their original 3PL provider, Awana’s customer care team was overwhelmed with calls from frustrated customers who were having to give disappointing news to kids in their classrooms. The organization ultimately lost hundreds of customers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue due to fulfillment errors. 

“Our products ultimately end up in the hands of kids. If any of us order our ecommerce product and it shows up a day late, we’re going to be okay. When you’re talking about products that are ultimately for kids — if I’ve got 20 kids in a room and I have to tell three of them, ‘Hey, you’re not going to get your badge because a distribution center didn’t do their job,’ that’s a really lousy position.” – Kevin White, Chief Operating Officer

It was time for a change. Awana needed a 3PL provider that would take the time to listen and learn about the uniqueness of its business. Awana needed a true partner. That’s when the team connected with Whitebox.

Using advanced pick-and-pack technology, Whitebox cleaned up inventory issues and streamlined fulfillment for Awana, saving costs and increasing customer satisfaction.

The Solution

The Whitebox team took time to listen to the pain points Awana experienced with its previous 3PL provider and understand the nonprofit’s main business objectives. Using our proprietary warehouse management system (WMS), Whitebox cleaned up Awana’s inventory to get distribution back on track.

Whitebox consolidated Awana’s inventory to one of our strategically placed warehouses. Since the organization’s business model features high order volume across several product lines, keeping inventory in one location prevents stock-outs and boosts shipping efficiency, so products aren’t being shipped from multiple locations to the same consumer.

Whitebox’s unique, highly efficient process for picking and packing, which combines proprietary technology with personal quality control, drastically reduced order errors and product defects. 

Whitebox barcoded every SKU (stock keeping unit) to ensure each piece was tracked accurately. Using our own technology and operating with a carrier-agnostic approach to fulfillment, we prioritize and optimize shipping options to get the best rate and speed, and pass those savings onto Awana. 

Additionally, our team implemented and continues to create custom solutions to meet their business needs, including a custom dashboard with unique fulfillment reports that provide real-time, transparent insights into inventory control and order statuses for the organization. 

"We’re not a traditional, cookie-cutter ecommerce model. We were looking for competence to fulfill our business and partnership to actually do it well. Whitebox has proven to be an extension of our business, not a separate business unit altogether."

- Kevin White, Chief Operating Officer

The Results

  • Used proprietary WMS to clean up existing inventory issues (re-organized pallets and consolidated inventory location to optimize shipping options)
  • Implemented accurate inventory tracking with barcoding system
  • Use Whitebox technology for more efficient picking and packing processes to reduce error rates, which has improved Awana’s business health
  • Reduced fulfillment costs and customer churn
  • Increased order accuracy
  • Developed a true partnership to fully understand and appreciate the unique business model, and innovate around those needs
  • Built custom dashboard reports with real-time, transparent data to inform business decisions
  • Provided visibility into order statuses and inventory control, highlighting any products that were trapped in backorder so Awana can communicate necessary updates with its customers
  • Automated their returns process, increasing customer satisfaction
  • Using Whitebox Chat, Awana’s customer care team has a direct line to Whitebox to resolve order-level questions quickly and efficiently, getting them closer to solutions and bypassing organizational silos.