Kate McLeod Case Study

Why Kate McLeod Left ShippingTree — and Returned

Some other 3PLs act like it is the most complicated thing in the world. ShippingTree makes it easy.

— Nichola Gray, COO, Kate McLeod

Kate McLeod is a DTC skincare brand built on a single question: “What are you putting on your skin?” Their flagship product is the Body Stone, an innovative solid moisturizer that melts on contact with dry skin. It’s designed to be used daily and turns something quotidian into an intentioned moment of self-care—a source of everyday magic. Their waterless, plastic-free, waste-free products have helped the brand garner a cult-like following.

Searching for a Fulfillment Partner

Just before the 2018 holiday season, Gray and McLeod were pressed to find a fulfillment partner. Armed with their financial forecast, they spoke with various potential suitors that could help them meet their growth projections. While evaluating 3PLs and presenting their goals, Gray and McLeod were turned off by how complicated and opaque proposals from traditional 3PLs seemed.

From outdated software systems to complex pricing structures, the founders felt like these so-called partners were making life more difficult, not easier—even on the first impression!

ShippingTree stood apart. “Jesse and Alex had a really easy manner about them,” recalls Gray. “They had a ‘yes’ mentality. It was refreshing.” Complete with a seamless Shopify integration, Gray knew ShippingTree was the right choice.

The integration with Shopify paved the way for a smooth transition, and Kate McLeod was up and running in one week — ready for the holiday shopping rush.

An Unexpected Fork in the Road

After partnering with ShippingTree, things were going great. “I literally did not think about shipping,” says Gray. The brand was growing, and ShippingTree easily kept up with the increase in orders. ShippingTree made their warehouse accessible to the Kate McLeod team, going so far as providing a point of contact to the manager overseeing the warehouse floor. When there were software features Kate McLeod needed, ShippingTree was able to develop them.

But then came a fork in the road.

ShippingTree moved its fulfillment center out of state and away from Kate McLeod’s production facility. The distance between the two facilities made Gray and the team nervous. As much as they didn’t want to leave ShippingTree, they decided to find a new fulfillment partner geographically closer to their production facility.

They Didn’t Know What They Had Until It Was Gone

Gray chose a new fulfillment partner with experience supporting premium brands that was positioned as a more hands-on 3PL. It was quickly evident that the experience did not match expectations. The tech was inferior. Everything was a “no” or took days to resolve. There were no direct lines of contact. And Gray didn’t feel that the new partner was equipped to problem solve.

This was a far cry from their experience with ShippingTree.

We literally don’t think about our fulfillment anymore.

— Nichola Gray, COO, Kate McLeod

“It was evident almost at the onboarding period. All of these things I took for granted with the tech were more difficult with the new 3PL,” recalls Gray. “There was a lot of oversight and management needed, but a 3PL should be taking things completely off your plate.”

After only six months, she decided to move back to ShippingTree. She sent Jesse an email, and she got a call back in “about a minute.”

Growing With a True Partner

The move back to ShippingTree was as seamless as the initial integration, and Kate McLeod was poised to continue their growth with a trusted partner with a “human element.”

Being a small team, Gray knows that every minute counts. Because of this, one of her biggest concerns for the company was the ability to seamlessly handle growth.

This is the beauty of their partnership with ShippingTree. Even after growing their monthly orders 30x, Gray says it doesn’t feel any different for them — effectively putting her concerns to rest.

Sometimes it’s just as true in business as in life: distance does make the heart grow fonder.

How the ShippingTree-Kate McLeod partnership achieved amazing results:


ShippingTree helped Kate McLeod scale its volume of monthly orders 30x in less than three years. “ShippingTree was able to put shipping out of my mind,” says Gray.


Doing a sizable business with QVC, they worked with ShippingTree on their QVC order kitting — a time-consuming task they were previously doing on their own. ShippingTree built the technology needed to support the process, providing transparency into pricing and progress.

Robust Forecasting

Kate McLeod has more robust inventory and forecasting because of the data provided, allowing them to properly plan their shipping offers and determine the impact those will have on customer lifetime value.

Mapping and Proofing

They trust ShippingTree to handle the mapping and proofing for new product launches — allowing Gray and the team to focus their efforts on growing the brand.

Improved Customer Experience

Improved customer ordering experience through increased order turnaround time — an important aspect for a premier brand. “Quick shipping makes customers feel awesome,” says Gray.

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