Rover began life as an online marketplace for pet owners to buyand sell services, such as doggy daycare, walking and boarding. As the business grew, it started exploring ways to diversify, create new revenue streams—and offer more value to its users.
The company took the decision to launch an e-commerce store to provide its audience of care providers with practical products to build their businesses, such as printed promo cards. And as the business continued to grow, it realized there were big opportunities for the store to do more.
“The site at the time was being hosted on an unreliable platform and it was honestly just becoming really problematic,” says Marketing Manager Kristin Gorsuch. “But we knew there was more potential there, so we shut it down and I took on the role of Project Manager for the relaunch.”
Rover opted to host its revamped store on Shopify and expanded beyond promotional materials to offer gifting products, such as mugs and tote bags. Then, Rover came up with the idea of expanding into pet supplies as a natural extension of its business.
“Up until that point, we’d only focused on fun products for pet sitters, but we realized we’re not the experts in mugs, we’re the experts in dogs!” she says. “For years, we’d been running a blog, Dog People, which offers recommendations on all kinds of pet supplies, so moving into selling things we already knew a lot about felt like a natural extension.”
With an exciting new vision and purpose for the store, Kristin switched up her role to take over operations, marketing and site management. Among the areas for consideration was how they would handle order management and fulfilment.
“We knew we didn’t want to commit to the inventory and volumes associated with wholesale and instead saw that drop-ship offered a more nimble solution,” she says. “Drop-ship provided us with a way to easily test into this new revenue stream without committing to owning inventory.”
Using a drop-shipping model, Rover wouldn’t have to stock or own their inventory. Instead, they’d fulfil orders by purchasing from third parties—other stores, manufacturers, and vendors—and shipping directly to the customer.
In turn, this would simplify the job of order management and de-risk the task of selling items, because they wouldn’t have to purchase them and bring them into their own warehouse and inventory.
“I didn’t really know where to start in terms of working with vendors,” she says. “I’d identified three main types of vendor I wanted to work with—vendors with their own Shopify sites, less tech-savvy companies who didn’t use Shopify, and larger retailers in the pet space. But I had no idea how to onboard them, let alone handle vendor routing and order management.”
As Kristin worked hard on creating a feasible path forward, she wanted to keep it labor-lite for her lean team. After all, they had little spare capacity to manually send purchase orders back and forth with vendors, or to manage tracking and fulfillment within the team.
“I needed to find a solution that would make vendor routing zero work on my end,” she says. “If we couldn’t find a way to automate the process of connecting with vendors and pulling off drop-shipping, we wouldn’t be able to expand.”
Easy-to-use platform completely automates vendor onboarding and order management
As Kristin researched solutions for automating her vendor management and drop shipping requirements, she asked Shopify for recommendations.
They spoke highly of Duoplane, a platform built for drop-shipping, which completely automates many of the backend processes and keeps trading partners organized, in sync, and focused on success.
As Kristin vetted Duoplane, she liked what she saw.
“I reached out to Duoplane, sharing with them our very specific use cases— and they were fast and thorough at responding,” says Kristin. “They told me that whatever I needed to achieve with my vendors, they would provide the technical solutions to do it.” Kristin also felt it was the most user-friendly platform on the market.
“Another thing that stood out was that you don’t need technical expertise to use Duoplane, because it’s extremely user-friendly,” she says. “The app has a clean, clear look, and its software could connect with our systems—and those of our vendors—with no coding required on our side.”
Installing Duoplane was easy. It took one-click, and Kristin was connected. Onboarding new vendors was quick, easy and effective, too. Kristin created an account for the new vendor and added in their email address—and they immediately received a welcome email providing access to their Duoplane vendor account.
At this point, Kristin needed to establish with each vendor how they would transact key documents, such as purchase orders and shipment and tracking information. Whichever way they wanted to do this, Duoplane automated everything on Kristin’s end, including:
Automated PO sending
With no time for Kristin and her team to manually route orders to vendors, Duoplane automated everything.
Establishing connections with Shopify stores took one click. Once complete, Duoplane connected to Rover’s shopping carts, automatically parsed each sales order into vendor purchase orders, and sent it over to the right supplier.
For vendors without Shopify, or with less technical capability, Duoplane created a process whereby sales orders were parsed into purchase orders and emailed automatically.
And for larger retailers and manufacturers, where connectivity on their side was more complex, Duoplane jumped on the phone to talk them through set-up and ensure the connection functioned correctly.
Automated order tracking
Managing order tracking was just as simple. For vendors with connections established, tracking information automatically flowed back to Rover and on to customers—with no manual workload on either side.
For less technical vendors who wished to email tracking details, Duoplane parsed the information, uploaded it to Rover’s portal, and automatically flowed it on to the customer. Again, with zero work for Kristin and her team.
Inventory feeds and syncing
One feature that Kristin describes as a ‘game-changer’ is Duoplane’s inventory syncing. This allows Kristin to see vendor’s real-time inventory levels, which means she never oversells. If a product is unavailable, it automatically updates on Kristin’s store as ‘out of stock’, meaning customers don’t order products that aren’t available, and don’t end up disappointed.
“Inventory syncing ensures our product listings are accurate and up-to date and it has had a hugely positive impact on our customer service,” she says.
Having experienced tough learning curves and business disruption with other technical products in the past, Kristin was thrilled that Duoplane delivered the ease and automation it had promised.
Working with 10 new vendors—and a lucrative new revenue stream unlocked without the effort
Before Duoplane, Rover felt unable to expand their e-commerce store, because they didn’t have the in-house bandwidth to manage vendor routing manually. With Duoplane, they felt liberated to scale—and the results have been remarkable.
With Duoplane at the foundation, they’ve been able to partner with 10 new vendors that they were unable to partner with previously. This has led to impressive quarter-over-quarter growth in Rover’s pet supply sales, which has been nothing short of transformational for the business. Duoplane has also enabled Rover to act on new opportunities faster.
“Duoplane enables us to pivot quickly—and getting a new vendor relationship in motion is so fast,” explains Kristin. “Sometimes, I’ll have a call with a potential vendor, and by the end of it, they’ll be integrated into Duoplane.
“Duoplane takes out so many steps and really opens us up in terms of what we can do, because we no longer have to look at integration as a blocker.” As a lean team, with limited time and technical expertise, Kristin appreciates Duoplane’s show-stopping service levels and the passion they show for keeping Rover happy.
“I just can’t praise Duplane’s customer service team enough—I’m yet to throw them a scenario where they don’t find a solution quickly,”she says. “I am always impressed that whoever’s on the other side of the conversation, they’re fluent in Duoplane, which is so valuable, and we always feel our business is their priority.”
Kristin recommends Duoplane to marketing and operations managers looking to build their e-commerce presence.
“Time is money—and Duoplane’s automations have saved us so much of it,” she says. “It’s such low-lift to get into their program and have it set up and I just love working with them.