Backstory: Shipping company packs a punch after reevaluation

vbridges@newsobserver.comJune 10, 2013 

Chris Bingham, owner of Riley Life Logistics, a shipping fulfillment company, used targeted marketing and customer analysis to bring his company back from the brink.


  • Advice from Chris Bingham

    •  Decide what you do well and focus on your strengths.

    •  Systematize the things you do well before you scale.

    •  Find good advisers, including people who care about you enough to tell you that you are going down the wrong path.

— Chris Bingham had a problem.

Riley Life Logistics, Bingham’s shipping fulfillment services company, was losing money. The strategy of marketing to any business that might need his services wasn’t working.

Following advice from a mentor, Bingham did an analysis of his customers from a financial and feedback standpoint. The process led him to a target market of brand-driven companies, which gave him a purpose and creditability, he said.

The company’s services include receiving its clients’ goods on pallets and in packages, counting and quality checking the order, and cataloging it in a digital system that companies can monitor. As orders flow from that inventory, Riley Life employees assemble the items, package them and ship them via UPS, Federal Express or the U.S. Postal Service.

“There’s so much more to this process than just throwing (stuff) in a box and doing it as cheaply as possible,” Bingham, 34, said. “And the people that most value that and most (understand) that are brands that have something to lose, that have a reputation on the line.”

Bingham opened Riley Logistics in a 3,080-square-foot space in Cary in November 2007 after he left his position as vice president of sales and marketing for Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind, a textile manufacturing company. Initially, Bingham’s two main clients included two companies he had established relationships with at the Lions Clinic.

In 2009, Riley Life moved to an 8,080-square-foot space in Durham as part of a package service and sublease deal with BrandFuel, a full-service promotional products agency. It was there that Bingham struggled with diminishing returns that inspired the analysis of his company.

The evaluation started with an analysis of profit, time spent on each of his nine clients, and client satisfaction.

Bingham found that the persistent customers were also the ones that wanted items shipped as quickly and as economically as possible. Companies that required more intricate packaging services and put their name on their products were generally pleased with the service.

“A brand is as strong as its weakest link,” Bingham said. “And a lot of times, the weakest link is the shipping process.”

Bingham said the benefits of partnering with these brand-driven companies include an increase in their business and ultimately a rise in the amount of products they ship.

Bingham fine-tuned the idea by talking through the strategy with networking contacts.

The conversations went from “I don’t know what you do,” Bingham said, to “I know somebody that needs that.”

In August 2012, Riley Life moved to a 24,000-square-foot space on Laurelbrook Street in Raleigh. The company created a new logo and redesigned its website. Bingham hired workers who were focused on customer service and stressed quality control.

He also developed a new motto: “Every package is a person with a story.”

Since then, Riley Life has stopped doing business with a couple of companies and brought in about 30 new ones. Revenue for 2013 is projected to triple over 2012, Bingham said.

“We would not be in business any longer if that shift had not taken place,” Bingham said.

Bridges: 919-829-8917

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