We went for a ride-along to follow the slippers we ordered from the warehouse to our doorstep

For same-day deliveries, Ship Essential sorts packages on its delivery truck and hands them off on a curb to last-mile drivers.
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Andrew Adam Newman

4 min read

Some of us pay way too much attention to the track-shipment function for e-commerce purchases, watching our parcels stop in exotic places we’ve never visited (like Avenel, New Jersey!), and riveted by the real-time trackers that say the package is just four stops—no wait, three stops—away.

We might glimpse the UPS or Amazon driver when they deliver, but what about the workers who plucked it from the warehouse shelf and packed it? Or who loaded it on the truck? And how did it manage to get to us so quickly (or slowly)?

To find out, on a recent Thursday, we visited a warehouse in Brooklyn where a third-party logistics (3PL) company, Ship Essential, has a unique approach to same-day delivery. We wanted to see how they do it by ordering an item and following its journey from their warehouse to our Manhattan apartment.

11:45 am

Justin Randolph poses in the Ship Essential warehouse.

Andrew Adam Newman

When we entered the clean, bright space, we were greeted by Justin Randolph, head of operations at Ship Essential. Founded in 2020 by David J. Sitt, the company occupies 52,000 square feet of warehouse space in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. This location handles logistics for 40 brands, including housing their inventory, order fulfillment, deliveries, and returns.

Randolph said 3PL companies are often in the boonies.

“You don’t find businesses like us directly in the middle of a city,” Randolph told Retail Brew. “3PLs tend to be on the outskirts or where real estate’s cheaper and labor is cheaper.”

But Randolph explained that many of Ship Essential’s partner brands are based in New York, just a few subway stops away if they want to QC a shipment that’s arrived at the facility from overseas.

“We’re accessible to our brands,” Randolph said.

12:04 pm

An iPhone screen image that indicates the pair of slippers had just been ordered from Brunch.

It begins. From our phone we ordered a pair of green slippers from Brunch, a New York-based DTC brand that started in 2020 whose footwear, in the words of its website, combines “the functionality of your favorite sneaker with the comfort of your coziest slipper.”

Yes, please.

12:08 pm

Jonathan Acevedo removes slippers from a warehouse shelf.

Andrew Adam Newman

Equipped with an iPad and scanner, Jonathan Acevedo, outbound specialist at Ship Essential, located the slippers in Brunch’s inventory aisle.

“We have a [warehouse management system] called ShipHero that powers everything that we do,” Randolph explained. Acevedo scans barcodes on the shelf, the slippers, and the tote he puts them in, all contributing to what Randolph calls “traceability through the warehouse.”

12:11 pm

Jonathan Acevedo packs slipper for shipment in the Ship Essential warehouse.

Andrew Adam Newman

Acevedo packed the slippers in a Brunch-branded bag and tissue paper, then printed a label and slipped it into a plastic envelope.

12:20 pm

Driver Jan Paulo with parcels near the Carry truck.

Andrew Adam Newman

In December, Ship Essential acquired Carry, a New York startup with a novel approach to last-mile deliveries we’d observe soon. Jan Paulo has been driving for Carry for about a year and a half—well before the transition. Ship Essential used to be a Carry partner, meaning it was one of his stops; now it’s Carry’s base, meaning Paulo starts out there every day after loading Ship Essential’s orders onto the truck.

1:50 pm

Jan Paulo sorts packages inside his truck.

Andrew Adam Newman

We made stops to pick up parcels from other Carry customers, including by far the best-smelling stop: Stone Street Coffee Company’s roasting facility.

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After our last pickup, at Catbird, a jewelry brand with a studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Paulo scanned all the packages he’d picked up.

Then Arthur Allman, the logistics manager back at Ship Essential’s office, used Beans.ai, a real-time location-based software platform, to help Paulo divide the parcels into totes that would soon be handed off to four final-destination delivery drivers bound for different parts of the city.

This sorting in the field, rather than in a warehouse, is what’s unique and cost-effective for Carry. It charges a flat fee of between $4.95 to $9.99 (depending on volume) to brands for this same-day-delivery service, with many brands offering it to their customers for free, said Randolph.

Prior to Carry, Paulo drove a delivery truck for FedEx, which was “completely different,” he explained to us. He’d back up his truck and package handlers would load it according to a route that he’d then tweak.

“When I got in, I’d grab a Sharpie, start looking at addresses, and organize my truck the way I liked,” Paulo said.

2:15 pm

Jan Paulo hands parcels off to another driver.

Andrew Adam Newman

On a street near the Navy Yard, Paulo handed off the totes to four drivers, who scanned parcels as they loaded them into their own trunks and backseats to deliver to their final destinations.

Normally, our slippers would have been handed off to a Manhattan-bound driver, but Paulo explained he was going to deliver them personally because this was “a special type situation.”

Aw, shucks.

3:10 pm

Jan Paulo scans the package one last time at its destination.

Andrew Adam Newman

We arrived at the package’s final destination, our East Village abode. Paulo made one last scan.

3:19 pm

The slippers on the author's feet in his apartment.

Andrew Adam Newman

Home feet home.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.