Case Study: Marine Layer Partners with Mochila to Rapidly Replenish Stores, Reduce Costs and Support 10x Sales Growth

An enduring fulfillment partnership helps grow sales and profits

Jim Sharkey
May 11, 2024
Inside of a clothing store

When Marine Layer first approached Mochila in 2016, its COO Adam Lynch knew they needed a more sophisticated fulfillment solution as the company continued to grow. On his wish list to accomplish this: a smart, tech-forward 3PL partner that could replenish its 26 retail stores more quickly and flexibly.

In the eight years that followed the company’s initial partnership with Mochila, Marine Layer has continued to enjoy tremendous growth, not only in its retail stores (now numbering 50 and growing), but also in its direct-to-consumer business – and this is growth that Mochila’s unique fulfillment platform has helped to power. As Adam recounts:

Mochila has been a critical partner in our successful efforts to scale Marine Layer over 10x. From their technology platform, to their ability to ship quickly and accurately while providing amazing client service, they allow us to worry less about fulfillment and focus more on growing our business. I put Mochila at the very top of the list of valued partners we rely on to run our business. We literally would not be where we are today without them.

How it started

Marine Layer, the popular San Francisco-based purveyor of absurdly soft casual apparel, was founded in 2009 and started out distributing its custom t-shirts out of a single location, a vintage 1969 VW bus. By 2016, Marine Layer had outgrown its patchwork, in-house fulfillment process.

With continued growth ahead, Adam knew Marine Layer needed a more flexible fulfillment solution that could easily scale to support more stores and - eventually - higher volume online. Mochila’s proprietary fulfillment software enabled not only more precise distribution of new inventory to Marine Layer stores but also the rapid restocking of stores based on customer demand.

By ensuring the right inventory was in the right place at the right time, this rapid fulfillment enabled Marine Layer to significantly increase its sales and its inventory turnover. And once Marine Layer saw the precision and speed with which Mochila could stock inventory in their retail stores, they decided Mochila was the right partner to ship directly to their customers.

The decision to focus on just one channel first -- store replenishment -- turned out to be an extremely helpful way to build a strong foundation for an enduring partnership, not just honing operational processes and systems integration but also developing trust between the two organizations. As Marine Layer and Mochila worked together to improve fulfillment to stores, extending the partnership to include direct-to-consumer fulfillment became a natural and seamless extension.

Over time, Marine Layer and Mochila continued working together to make further enhancements to fulfillment operations, introducing optimizations on how inventory arrives at stores to make stocking shelves easier as well as incorporating rate shopping on DTC orders to always choose the optimal shipping carrier and reduce shipping costs.

How it’s going

In 2023, Mochila opened its first fulfillment center in Tijuana, Mexico -- and Marine Layer became the first client to make use of the new Mochila facility in Mexico.

Mochila’s approach of building a strong technology and operations platform along with a robust process for communication and collaboration proved to be an invaluable asset in Marine Layer’s decision to begin fulfillment from Mexico.

Both companies saw the value that could be realized by allowing Marine Layer to import goods into the United States under Section 321, a provision that allows companies to import goods manufactured in China with a combined value less than $800 without paying custom duties.

For Marine Layer, the decision to partner with Mochila for their fulfillment from Mexico was not without risk. A potentially “safer” option might have been to choose a fulfillment partner unknown to Marine Layer, but already established in Mexico, with experience operating in the Mexican market. However, choosing to extend their existing partnership with Mochila -- a 3PL partner well-versed in Marine Layer’s business and with a proven track record of success and extraordinary dedication to achieving results in every region they’d worked in together to date -- turned out to be a great decision, as Adam recounts:

From the beginning of the expansion into Mexico, Mochila worked hand-in-hand with Marine Layer to navigate this new landscape and to ensure that our new fulfillment initiative was successful. They truly felt like a member of our team, communicating daily with us and helping to troubleshoot and resolve issues on the fly. In the end, it was an incredibly successful rollout by any measure.

As Jim Sharkey, Mochila’s CEO and Founder, notes:

Our partnership with Marine Layer exemplifies the values that guide every aspect of Mochila’s business: A dedication to process design, software innovation, and operational leadership to solve our client’s problems and ensure a good customer experience. This is carried out hand-in-hand with our clients in all of our endeavors, working collaboratively to achieve a shared vision of success.

Wondering if Mochila can help scale your business? Please schedule a call to learn more.

Let's Chat