3PL Provides a Natural Solution

3PL Provides a Natural Solution

Consumer demand for more natural and environmentally friendly cleaning products fueled the growth of Branch Basics, a direct-to-consumer company. The pandemic caused sales to increase exponentially and the e-tailer also realized a growth in subscription sales. Branch Basics needed an experienced third-party logistics provider to help manage distribution, fulfillment and transportation.


Branch Basics, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a non-toxic cleaning products company founded by three health-conscious women. Its mission is to help people toss the toxins and live healthy lives.


ODW Logistics, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a third-party logistics provider offering supply chain design, e-commerce fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, and transportation management solutions across a range of industries nationwide.

Originally founded in 2012 before being relaunched in 2017, Branch Basics’ product line centers around a fragrance-free, multi-purpose cleaning concentrate. The all-in-one formula can be diluted to various concentrations to meet all cleaning needs.

Branch Basics’ founders Marilee Nelson, Allison Evans, and Kelly Love were prompted by their own health challenges, or those of family members, to start their company.

“The women will tell you they never set out to sell soap,” says Greg Bastian, Branch Basics president and chief financial officer. “They were on a mission to create a healthy home and it holds true. In fact, that has become the company’s tag line.”

As a mission-based company, Branch Basics provides numerous resources to create a healthy home including a blog, a podcast, various guides, and a Toss the Toxins course, which are all accessible through its website.

“To some extent we’re an education platform,” Bastian explains. “We just happen to sell cleaning products as the economic engine to drive our growth and to be able to create content centered around healthy living.”

The 2017 relaunch occurred because Branch Basics did not previously own the formula for their cleaning concentrate. The founders wanted to be 100% transparent in terms of ingredients and thus the company now owns the formula that creates the basis for its signature product.

Culturally in Sync

Recently, a critical milestone tied to a promotion, as well as the company’s overall plans for the future, led Branch Basics to do some reconnaissance. Pleased as they were by a particularly successful 2022 Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign, the company faced challenges moving the resulting volume.

They’re also aware their strategic growth plan is likely to include sales through different and still-to-be-determined channels. There was plenty of impetus to start looking for an experienced 3PL to help them scale operations.

Being part of a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs made deciding who to work with that much easier.

“We leaned into our network, asking other DTC companies: ‘Who is doing this for you? What 3PLs have these capabilities?’” says Karen Lowery, Branch Basic’s chief operations officer. “Our business model is a different world than shipping into retail, or even into Amazon.”

When shopping the Branch Basics website, customers have the opportunity to order varying configurations of product. It was essential that any 3PL the company decided to partner with have the experience to deliver that need. The eco-friendly cleaning brand also wanted real-time visibility into its inbound and outbound shipments.

The Right Fit

Enter ODW Logistics. Right from the start, the two companies proved to be a cultural fit.

“There’s a spirit and a direct level plus a relationship mindset that we always look for in our partners,” says Casey Nofziger, vice president of client solutions at ODW Logistics. “Branch Basics checked that box for us instantaneously.”

ODW Logistics is appreciative of Branch Basic’s conscious effort to make an impact. “The products speak to people and the company has a huge following and a history of strong growth. As much as determining how we can help, our belief in a company and its products factors into decisions to partner as well,” says Nofziger.

To help Branch Basics meet demand, ODW Logistics provides a holistic supply chain solution that includes a diverse e-commerce fulfillment program, cost effective transportation management, and the ability to scale as the business grows.

Transition Period

Efficiency is often achieved in a smaller footprint. Prior to partnering with ODW, Branch Basics had been operating out of three warehouses.

“Going to a single node wasn’t even in our thought processes, but ODW laid out the value,” says Bastian. The 3PL’s capabilities convinced the eco-friendly company that they could reduce inventory complexities and still meet customer expectations in terms of timing.

Not having to implement processes in triplicate made the transition period that much simpler. Organizationally, the partners aligned on efficiencies such as standardizing case labeling to achieve an effective flow within the single node. They also agreed it was essential to create an item master that acknowledged changes in SKUs and how things are packaged.

Leading up to the go-live date, there were technological integrations to manage and inbound inventory dates to meet. “We did a lot of testing,” says Joe Atkinson, manager of finance and operations at Branch Basics, acknowledging ODW’s dedication in that regard. As predicted, having a good master SKU list came in handy when Branch Basics started loading in inventory.

There was also customer service and portal training for Branch Basics’ roughly 22 employees from brand and warehouse managers to pick-pack workers and kitters. “It was all very structured. We met our timelines and our go-live date, which is always a huge deal,” says Atkinson.

Slippery Moments

It was a juggling act for Branch Basics to keep the incumbent 3PL at their three original warehouses set with inventory while filling up ODW and transitioning to a single node. “It was a challenge making the whole matrix of our co-manufacturers, suppliers, with all the lead times and SKUs we have, fit,” says Atkinson. The company ended up bringing one of their lower volume SKUs off the site for a few weeks.

“Some of the lead times were tough and we had to take a small hit,” he adds.

As for ongoing challenges, Atkinson references the importance of addressing “edge cases.”

“If 99% of your business is clean and simple, you spend the rest of your time handling that last 1% shipping to remote locations and P.O. boxes, or just odd orders,” he explains. Branch Basics has been focused on cleaning up those edge cases since the go-live date.

Healthy and Happy

Implementing standardization provides plenty of perks. As a result of partnering with ODW, Branch Basics is grateful to now have a document detailing their operations moving forward.

“ODW Logistics understands our business—how we kit, how we pick and pack, all the freight routing,” says Atkinson. “It’s great to have everything documented and on paper. Prior to this we had just tribal knowledge building over the years.”

Atkinson also appreciates ODW’s freight brokerage services. “I’ve gone from sourcing freight on my own to handing off the details to the ODW LTL team,” he says. “The process couldn’t be smoother.”

In addition to achieving real-time visibility, all products are now barcoded. “It’s a clean process,” says Lowery. “I don’t think our prior process would have been sustainable. Going with a more sophisticated operation is going to benefit us as we grow.”

This is reassuring to a company that brought in nearly $27 million in revenue in 2022 and now touts a 50% customer repeat rate. Branch Basics’ gross sales grew by around 57% year-over-year from 2021 to 2022.

Accelerating Future Growth

For its part, ODW Logistics equates being able to provide expertise in the omnichannel world with thinking larger.

“The management team has a mindset of continuing to accelerate business growth,” says Nofziger. Branch Basics may introduce new products or consider manufacturing in different ways across the United States or potentially get into the retail channel long term.

“As much as our partnership is about helping Branch Basics in today’s world improve on the areas they called out, it’s also about assuring them that ODW Logistics has anything they need to help them grow in the future,” Nofziger says.

Case Study: Journey to Health

The Challenge

Branch Basics, a direct-to-consumer, non-toxic cleaning products company, needed an experienced third-partner logistics provider to help them manage their distribution, fulfillment, and transportation services.

The Solution

Branch Basics partnered with 3PL provider ODW Logistics to streamline operations and gain real-time visibility into their inbound and outbound shipping. They achieved greater efficiency by downsizing from three warehouses to a single node.

The Results

The company acquired a master SKU list, all products are now barcoded, and inventory complexities have been reduced. Customer expectations are still being met. Instead of having to rely on tribal knowledge, Branch Basics now has a comprehensive document detailing their operations moving forward.

Next Steps

Handling Black Friday/Cyber Monday surges with greater efficiency. Expanding the product line in response to customer requests for new solutions on how to remove toxins from their homes. Considering exploring the omnichannel world.