How Whirli simplified their operations and saved costs using Sourceful

Shipping a subscription box service in the most sustainable way.

Craig Simpson
Craig Simpson
Head of Operations


Whirli is a toy subscription company on a mission to make toy sharing the new normal. With Whirli, families gain access to a library of toys at a fixed monthly price. Parents choose the toys they want for their children, Whirli ships them and then parents send them back in exchange for new toys when they’re done. As a result, children learn the importance of sharing and parents are able to save money and reduce waste. To ensure their toys were being shipped in the most sustainable way, Whirli partnered with Sourceful to help them source, design and produce a wider range of custom packaging.

new right-sized custom boxes
recyclable and plastic-free tape
costs saved

The challenge

Whirli wanted to upgrade their packaging and find a more cost-effective solution. As part of their goal to reduce waste, Whirli encourages customers to return toys using the same branded box they arrive in. For this reason, they needed shipping boxes that were secure and durable enough to withstand two trips. They also wanted to improve the sustainability of their packaging.

At the same time, managing their packaging was tricky. Whirli sourced different components through different suppliers, which meant varied lead times and requirements. On top of this, the prices of their boxes were continuously rising – increasing twice in one day on one occasion – and they did not have much control over their order quantities. For Whirli, the entire process was complex, time-consuming, expensive, and not tailored to their needs. They needed help finding more reliable, trustworthy and flexible suppliers.

The solution

With Sourceful, Whirli found an end-to-end partner to improve their packaging and streamline their supply chain. Sourceful helped with everything from creating dielines and artwork to sourcing more sustainable packaging and simplifying their operations. Sourceful also used their network of vetted suppliers to find more durable shipping boxes, at the right price point for Whirli, allowing them to switch packaging with confidence.

Along with finding a better price point for their shipping boxes, Whirli was able to expand their packaging range too. In addition to their four original boxes, three new right-sized boxes were designed to the exact measurements requested by Whirli. They now have seven bespoke boxes available to better fit their toys, resulting in less material waste, reduced shipping costs and better protection. Another improvement was the sustainability of their packaging. First, they switched to FSC certified materials for their shipping boxes. And second, they swapped their plastic tape for gummed tape which is made from kraft paper, is 100% recyclable and is cheaper per metre.

In addition, Whirli was able to simplify their supply chain by reducing the number of packaging suppliers from six to two. Whirli can now buy boxes, tape, return labels, paper bubble wrap, envelopes, leaflets and booklets all through Sourceful's platform. This also means that for the first time, Whirli can go to one source and easily track their stock levels for each of the products in their warehouse. They then receive notifications for when stocks are running low and reminders for which products to re-order.

“In a fast growing startup like Whirli, there are many different things that we need to juggle at the same time to make sure we are constantly improving our customer offering whilst managing lots of new customers. Working with Sourceful has relieved the pain of sourcing packaging, having to manage multiple packaging suppliers and constantly renegotiate prices, meaning there is one less thing for me to stress about!"
Craig Simpson, Head of Operations

The result

Using Sourceful's expert guidance, Whirli was able to upgrade their packaging and reduce their costs by 3.5%. Whirli now have three new custom shipping boxes, a more sustainable packaging tape and one platform to track all their inventory and place new orders.

Whirli are now working with Sourceful to improve the sustainability of their return labels and the fabric bags used to protect their toys inside the shipping boxes.

Related Stories