Posted by Ian McCue, Commerce Content Manager
When Matthew Huff, the founder of Little Unicorn, observed the baby goods industry in 2014, he saw that even as business boomed, with a flurry of new products and brands, there was a lack of design innovation. Many of the patterns and designs in the baby products category had not evolved to appeal to today’s generation of parents – there was still an abundance of traditional blue and pink products with stale patterns, a mainstay from previous generations.
That inspired Huff to create a line of fresh, stylish and affordable baby blankets, diaper bags, bibs, crib sheets and other accessories under the Little Unicorn brand.
Huff, the company’s president, recruited graphic design students from nearby Utah State University to form Little Unicorn’s initial in-house team to create the designs that are now a hallmark of the retailer’s products.
In September 2014, he launched the brand at a major industry tradeshow in Las Vegas and received a remarkably positive response. That was the start of something special.
“We just try to have fun on the creative side and create these prints with something original from the start so that the end product will have that handmade feel,” Huff said. “It was the right guess, you could say, that people are really looking for that.”
Quality is at the heart of everything Little Unicorn sells. All items are constructed with one of five fabric types – cotton muslin, brushed muslin, organic muslin, deluxe muslin and percale – that vary in price, softness and breathability. Third parties test all products to ensure they meet or exceed regulatory standards and give customers peace of mind when caring for their children.
Customers Embrace the Products
Just like at the tradeshow, parents quickly embraced baby goods with contemporary aesthetics.
Little Unicorn established itself as a reputable and popular brand for baby products – it grew exponentially the first year, has achieved double-digit growth year-over-year since then and now claims almost 250,000 Instagram followers.
The retailer sells through its own website, about 1,400 boutique retailers across the country and large national retail chains including Target, Amazon, Nordstrom, buybuy BABY and Anthropologie.
Still headquartered in Logan, Utah, the business now ships about 7,500 orders per month from four warehouses in California, Tennessee, Canada and China. It plans to continue building out that distribution network in 2019.
“We focused on people and we focused on product, and then we focused on our logistics,” Huff said. “If you focus on getting better, bigger kind of just takes care of itself.”
While thrilled with its early success, Little Unicorn dealt with typical growing pains. At one point, 60 percent of its inventory was out-of-stock. Incorrect shipments, backorders that led to incomplete shipments and chargeback fees from vendors were common, creating headaches for employees, hurting the bottom line and damaging the brand’s reputation.
Building a Storybook Customer Experience
As Little Unicorn’s order volumes climbed, Huff and his team quickly realized manual processes for accounting, inventory management and order processing were no longer sustainable. It needed a solution that automated processes to prevent errors, save time and, most importantly, improve the experience for both wholesale buyers and consumers. Customers needed accurate, real-time inventory information, better communication and faster delivery times.
That goal led the retailer to adopt a unified, cloud-based solution to run their key back-office operations and financial processes. Now, orders are automatically routed to the warehouse and shipped within 24 hours. Order confirmations, invoices and tracking numbers are automatically sent without any staff member touching it.
B2B Ecommerce Keeps Buyers Happy
After focusing on getting its back-office system in place, Little Unicorn invested in ecommerce software to build a site for wholesale customers. At the time, orders came in via email, fax and phone. The retailer built a B2B ecommerce site where buyers can view the full product catalog, see real-time inventory, access account-specific pricing, place orders and pay invoices.
Little Unicorn got its B2B ecommerce site up and running in 21 days in 2017, just in time to show it to wholesale buyers at the same tradeshow where Huff launched the brand in 2014.
Their ecommerce platform allows B2B customers to order products online without outside help – sales reps can focus on strengthening relationships with international distributors and building out new product lines.
What started as a hunch that people wanted a fresh look for baby-related products has turned into an extremely successful business. After only four years, Little Unicorn has become a major player in the baby products space, with no signs of slowing down.
Quietly powering Little Unicorn’s business transformation is NetSuite’s cloud business platform, with a natively integrated solution for ERP, B2B ecommerce, order and inventory management and customer relationship management (CRM). The distributor got up and running quickly with the help of NetSuite partner Eide Bailly.
“We’re going to keep selling, keep the customers happy and then we’re going to grow into international markets,” Director of Finance and Operations Jordan Brandley said. “We have so many things on the docket we want to keep growing with and NetSuite really does help enable all of that.”
Watch this video to learn more about Little Unicorn’s story.