a2b Fulfillment

Customers are increasingly looking for customized logistics services and a2b Fulfillment is in an ideal position to meet those needs, President Ayal Latz says. “We’ve become very successful due to our ability to offer customizable solutions [for] a growing and diverse client base,” he says. 

Based in Greensboro, Ga., a2b offers order-fulfillment, contact center solutions and a wide array of distribution support services, including kitting and assembly, order-management, returns and refurbishment, and both ambient and climate controlled warehousing. Latz explains that the company began as a small toy firm that he and his family founded in 1994.

“The product line revolved around dinosaur-related educational toys,” Latz says. “During the day-to-day operations of that company, we had warehousing capabilities and saw that other companies [like] ours could really benefit from third-party fulfillment services.” 

When a2b began offering the services to toy companies, most of the orders were on a business-to-business (B2B) level.

“Toy stores would call our clients and place orders for wholesale-level orders for the toys,” Latz recalls. “We would distribute them, and in some cases, handle the whole back office [operations for our clients].”

Latz’s father, Gary Latz, vice president of marketing, adds that this work also gave a2b experience that would pay off in the future. Because the toy industry was highly seasonal, “We learned how to ramp up and ramp down operationally, and became very efficient,” he says. 

Eventually, a2b saw more potential in warehousing and it moved out of toy manufacturing. Today, it also serves clients in the personal care, book, electronics and DVD markets. And yes, there are still some toys to be found in the a2b warehouse.

“We still offer fulfillment services on a B2B level where we ship to retailers,” Ayal Latz says. “However, our business over the years has drifted more and more towards the consumer-direct side. We do a lot of work in the e-commerce and As-Seen-On-TV spaces.”

Being in Tune

a2b is coping with a market where customers’ service expectations continue increasing, Ayal Latz says. “In the old days, [you would say] ‘allow two to four weeks for delivery,’” he says. “That’s unheard of these days.

“Customers want their products faster and faster,” he continues. “It’s important to be in tune with those types of market changes and to be in line with having the capability to cater to those expectations.”

For instance, “The customer is looking for free or very inexpensive shipping,” Gary Latz says. This forces a2b to be extremely flexible with costs or have multiple options for its clients.

“They need the lowest-cost shipping because they’re offering it free to their customers,” he says. “The end-users force us to become more efficient in our operations, plus have a plethora of tools to get to the desired cost structure.”

“One of the tools in our portfolio is our logic-based shipping system,” Ayal Latz says. “We leverage advanced technology, including our Connectship shipping system to choose optimal shipping services based not only on cost but also transit time. Due to our location, we already reach the majority of consumers in two days via Ground service. If our client’s goal is to deliver in two days, our technology and location allow us to accomplish this goal at the lowest possible prices.”

Unique Characteristics

During the slow economy, a2b maintained aggressive growth by leveraging its “unique characteristics,” Ayal Latz says.

These include its headquarters in Greensboro, which is outside of Atlanta and geographically close to the majority of U.S. consumers. “It’s also lower cost, so by locating ourselves in a business-friendly climate, we’ve been able to be very aggressive with both services and price points,” he says.

a2b also is very efficient, Latz asserts. “We’ve built our business around same-day shipping,” he says. “All our systems have been tailored for immediate processing so that we can turn orders as soon as they are sent to us, often within minutes of receipt. Our WMS provider, Royal 4 Systems, has played an integral role in helping us identify areas where we can operate more efficiently and implement new, smarter ways to work through their advanced technology. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve.”  

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