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Written by: Sarah Kirton on Nov 22nd, 2022

Bulu 2023: Streamlining Your Company’s Subscription Boxes

Paul Jarrett, co-founder and CEO of Bulu, gives us an insight into his business of streamlining subscription box programs, specialty fulfillment, and kitting projects. 

When was Bulu first launched and what inspired it?

Bulu was officially launched in 2012 by me and my co-founder (and wife), Stephanie Jarrett. We raised just over a million dollars in capital in less than 70 days even though our plan was still in its very early stages. Our biggest problem initially was finding out the return on investment for a single sample packet of a product delivered in a subscription box.

We started with subscription boxes, and the business grew at an incredible rate. We soon realized that we were in unchartered territory and that we needed to get some external help so we hired a CFO.

We worked, and still do, with huge companies such as Disney, Lunarly, and GNC. Then COVID-19 hit and things shifted. In this current economic climate, fulfillment is what companies seemed to need the most. 

What services does Bulu provide?

Shipping rates, kitting, and subscription fulfillment. In manufacturing, kitting is taking multiple products and grouping them into one new product. Fulfillment is the process of receiving goods, processing them, and delivering them to customers.

We offer highly competitive shipping rates and our accuracy and efficiency rates when it comes to kitting are over 99%.

Are most of your customers well-established businesses?

I would say that 60% of our clients are brands worth over a billion dollars, 40% are close to the start-up phase, and there are a few sprinkled in between.

We work with a lot of small- to medium-sized companies that need fulfillment – companies who otherwise would struggle with fulfillment and shipping criteria. We’re able to leverage our partnerships with the big brands and therefore provide much lower rates to smaller companies. I think over the next year we’ll be doing both big brand subscription boxes and fulfillment for the smaller businesses. 

Would you recommend that a start-up subscription box service sign up with you?

Yes, because we’re able to offer incredibly low shipping rates.

What are the advantages of working with Bulu?

Right now, it’s our shipping rates that drive people to sign up with us. Some of our clients only use us for shipping but we then suggest fulfillment. Customer service and product photography are two of our most popular add-ons.

What kind of products have you worked with?

We have shipped everything, ranging from science experiment kits to plants, and ping-pong tables to pesticides. The question, rather, is what we don’t work with. There are three categories we don’t do: perishable food items, anything pharmaceutical, and any apparel that has a lot of returns (it’s too complicated and expensive).

I understand some of your major clients are Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.

Yes! We carry out their fulfillment, and we can either supply products directly to the consumer, or we can send them to Amazon, etc. We don’t care where the client sells, we will get it where it needs to go. 

Have you seen an increase in business due to COVID-19?

People tend to believe that all online businesses have been thriving throughout the pandemic. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this is simply not true. Some of our products were actually unavailable to buy through retail. For example, we were working with Clorox and they were so stretched providing cleaning materials to retail stores that they just shut down other lower-margin services and resources. 

However, we’ve also seen a lot of companies expand their digital footprint, and it’s been rewarding to partner with these brands and get their products shipped to more customers across the country. 

How do you see the future of the subscription box industry?

The definition of “subscription” is placing multiple items together, shipping them as one product, and billing on a recurring basis. 

In my opinion, the subscription box industry is inevitably going to increase in size and the reason for this is the overwhelming wealth gap that exists. In a capitalist society, people need different ways to purchase things. Subscriptions offer a better buying option and make things more accessible to the mass market.

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