It started with a onesie: How Costume Bay saves with Sendle
“We’re saving substantial amounts month after month on the shipments we send out in Sendle’s 500g satchel. Over a year, that really makes a difference.” ~ Vivian Xu, founder, Costume Bay
TL;DR (too long; didn't read)
- On a trip to China, Vivian discovered the onesie and decided to bring some home and try to sell on eBay.
- The products sold quickly but Vivian soon realised there’s a lot more to business than selling, and she had a lot to learn.
- Vivian and her husband started developing their own system to streamline operations as they built up their product range.
- In 2021, Costume Bay decided to give Sendle a try and was surprised by the competitive prices.
- Now, they use Sendle’s 500g satchels for half their shipping. Their savings free up funds for business expansion.
As soon as Vivian Xu saw a onesie, she was smitten. Back in 2012, while visiting Shanghai, something in a shop window at the International Trading Centre caught her eye. It was an adult size jumpsuit made from soft, plush material that looked like the perfect blend of comfort and fun.
Vivian was intrigued. She had never seen a onesie before and was pretty sure they weren’t available in Australia, so decided on the spot to bring some back home to sell. She and her husband squeezed as many as could fit into two suitcases and boarded their flight.
Starting slowly is not an option
Even though that was more than ten years ago, Vivian still remembers watching her eBay page and being so excited when a sale suddenly came through. Then there was another, and another. It quickly snowballed and Vivian's hunch that Australians would love the onesie was proved correct.
But listing and selling was only the first step. All those onesies had to be sent out to customers and Vivian knew nothing about packing and shipping. She soon learnt how time-consuming and draining it was, trying to keep on top of everything. After a series of long nights, where she was packing and labelling parcels until 3am, Vivian decided to quit her job and concentrate on Costume Bay full time.
Building systems for success
By the time she quit the day job to focus on Costume Bay, Vivian was confident in the product and the market, but was still learning how to run a business. She and her husband, both IT professionals, had presumed it would be easy enough to set up their own ecommerce store – but soon learnt they knew almost nothing.
Ecommerce has a lot of moving parts, especially when you're sourcing products in one country and selling in another. With onesies taking over their home, managing the stock, and moving it quickly was going to be the key to success, and Vivian had the insight to know that productivity relied on them having efficient systems in place.
Integrating commercial systems would be costly and slow, so Vivian and her husband decided to build their own. It took time, and a lot of hard work, but they now have a custom-built platform that allows them to manage every aspect of the operation, from sourcing stock to posting reviews online.
Moving on with new offerings
Onesies are still a staple in the business, and Costume Bay now sells costumes, accessories and leisurewear throughout Australia. Book Week, when children go to school dressed as their favourite character, is the start of their busy season, followed by Oktoberfest, Halloween, Christmas and end of year celebrations.
Customers keep coming back and Vivian likes to support the local community by sponsoring and taking part in charity events. Especially those where she has the chance to dress up. In 2023, she ran her best time in the City to Surf (14 km run from Sydney's CBD to Bondi Beach) wearing a Costume Bay cheerleader’s outfit.
Lowering costs with Sendle
Knowing that a customer expecting a pair of Lederhosen for Oktoberfest is going to be disappointed if a Bavarian Beer Maid’s costume is delivered instead, Costume Bay has set itself the goal of delivering the right order to the right customer in the quickest possible time, every time.
Sendle came onto their radar in 2021. At the time, they were using Australia Post and courier services for all deliveries. But shipping is a vital part of the business. With high volume sales, even a small saving makes a big difference, so Vivian decided to look into Sendle.
Costume Bay’s custom system automatically selects the best shipping carrier for each parcel, based on size, weight, and destination. With help from a Sendle representative, Vivian was able to plug the prices into her system and run a few scenarios. She was pleasantly surprised to see how much they could save.
Soon, warehouse staff were printing Sendle labels every day and benefiting from Sendle’s reliable and free pick-up service.
With the Sendle 500g satchel (similar size to a small Australia Post satchel) being way cheaper for their business, Costume Bay has now moved more than half its business across.
Dancing into the future
Turning a suitcase full of onesies into a sustainable business has taken time and a lot of hard work. Dance wear has been added to the Costume Bay range, and Vivian plans to introduce the USA to her brand of dress ups and fun soon. As Costume Bay continues to grow and expand, Vivian is keen to keep reaping the benefits of doing business with Sendle.
See how you could benefit from Sendle’s great rates for 500g satchels and parcels.
Photo courtesy: Costume Bay