2020 brought a series of unprecedented challenges for leading UK urban streetwear brand SikSilk following the outbreak of the global pandemic and growing Brexit worries. After witnessing double-digit growth since its foundation in 2012, the brand brought in logistics expert Dean Jackson in June 2020 to help overcome its oncoming issues and set the label up for future growth. With years of experience under his belt, Jackson began searching for the right fit and partner to manage SikSilk’s logistics and fulfilment overseas, eventually finding success with fashion logistics expert Modexpress. We speak with Dean Jackson, head of logistics at SikSilk, to learn more about its partnership with Modexpress, how the brand has benefitted from working with them and how they are paving the way for future growth.
Why were you brought on board at SikSilk?
I was hired to overcome the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and Brexit. We had reached a plateau, where our business could not grow anymore and needed to move a large part of it to the Netherlands. Siksilk retained like-for-like growth over the last 12 months, as our customers migrated to our online platforms following restrictions. But even though our turnover has remained static, the shift between channels was evident. With our main customer base located in mainland Europe, mostly in Spain, and growing in France, Germany and the Netherlands, we needed to set up logistics and fulfilment operations overseas to avoid a deterioration of the business. We created a strategy to prepare us for future growth, including working with Modexpress. I believe that Modexpress is more than capable of meeting our growth aspirations for the next few years. This is the first part of a journey where we will develop more services, customer propositions and more. We wanted to partner with a firm that successfully manages logistics, and this is where Modexpress fitted into our plan.
Why did SikSilk select Modexpress as their partner?
Brexit caused significant disruption to all companies fulfilling orders from the UK to Europe, certainly at the magnitude of the thousands and thousands of orders we were fulfilling per week. We went through a process where we had a fairly balanced criterion for selection. The big weigh-ins were culture fit and how they would fit together with SikSilk as a brand next to flexibility, agility, speed and entrepreneurial spirit. It was never just about the mechanical hard measures, output and numbers. Our logistics partner had to be a part of our people and brand. In the end, it came out to a shortlist of three and out of that three, the people effect at Modexpress stood out. We trusted that Modexpress would do what they said they would do. We set them the challenge – we needed to start very quickly, and they met that challenge head-on.
I tend to be very hands-on, I’m a ‘I need to see a problem to fix a problem’ type of guy, so it was frustrating being in lockdown. Lockdown put more weight on trusting your partner and getting the culture fit right because I knew that I would not be on the ground and in the thick of it while setting up the initial process. So far, our decision to work with Modexpress has proven to be the correct one.
What are some of the benefits SikSilk has experienced since working with Modexpress?
Since working with Modexpress, we’ve had our most successful cyber event in the company’s history, with the least amount of issues, the biggest amount of orders shipped and no order backlog. We experienced great trading over Christmas and the New Year and are now in a steady state of improvement.
We experienced great success on our e-commerce platform because our systems are very tightly integrated. We’ve seen an improvement in shipping and a reduction in lead time, leading to a boost in orders that has led to an increase in returning customers. The knock-on effect is that we’ve also seen fewer queries to our customer service teams. This boost in order turnover means fewer people chasing orders. The accuracy of shipping has also improved, and all these service enhancements have been very noticeable. I can see on the dashboards that I get from various sources that the logistic performance and service to customers has improved significantly.
Our wholesale and retail platforms have been harder to crack because we were the least integrated on those sides and the most manual. A new partnership is not just between people, it is also between systems and processes as well. That’s where we have been a bit lacking and where a lot of our focus is on going into the new year. But we’ve already seen quicker order turnaround time with one of our largest wholesale clients, Zalando, so we are heading in the right direction. SikSilk has also seen a cost-benefit from doing things right the first time regarding logistics and fulfilment. There is also a massive tax benefit from operating within Europe, as opposed to operating outside of Europe.
With Modexpress, we’ve set up the platform for growth – we could not grow with our initial set-up when I first joined the business, so moving our logistics hub to the Netherlands with Modexpress has been a huge plus.
How has Modexpress helped SikSilk overcome the challenges faced by Brexit and COVID-19?
Brexit impacted every department – the amount of stress in the company was unforeseen because we took advice pre Brexit from many experts and former logistics partners, which turned out to be largely incorrect. It did not predict the chaos and burdens that it put onto the company. Moving our logistics to the Netherlands with Modexpress has removed those burdens and highlighted the value of expertise.
During our search for a logistics partner overseas, we realised we needed a partner ingrained in fashion because it has a lot of idiosyncrasies. We’ve benefitted from Modexpress only focusing on fashion, and their expertise in import, export, value-added services, as well as logistics. We’ve gained a lot of knowledge through this partnership. It’s not just about the mechanics of delivering the order, it’s everything that surrounds that. Modexpress has played a significant part in improving our fulfilment journey in all aspects.
Although the shift of logistics and systems may have felt hard at the time, Modexpress made the implementation an easy process. The success SikSIlk is having now comes down to making the right choice in partner logistics fulfilment.