3 Strategies for Brands to Increase Margin (but still source ethically!)

At WORK+SHELTER, we understand that maintaining healthy profit margins is essential for business sustainability. On that note, we’re about finding the win-win, where we can work together on a product line that grows with you as your business scales. We know that by now if you’re reading this, it’s because you share our values and that you and your customers care about high-quality, ethically made goods that don’t break the bank.

Yet, with rising costs and competitive pressures, we all have to get creative about how we source, produce, and deliver products to market, especially if we want to continue to make an impact and build creative businesses for years to come.

Still, it’s not always as simple as sending over a picture of a product you’d like to make and asking for a rate. It’s actually a little bit of an art AND a science. Get ready to have a creative dialogue that takes into account these three main points:

1. Purchase Higher Volumes

One of the easiest ways to improve your margin is by purchasing a larger volume of items. For us, we really do get more efficient at making an item the more we make, so it’s a no-brainer for us to pass along those savings to you. Making one zip pouch could take 30 minutes. But if we are making 1,000 bags, the amount of time each bag takes to make could decrease by as much as 50%.

But what if you don’t need that many items now? You can:

  • Get a better piece rate by ordering a larger volume of units at once and then ship part of your order by air for immediate fulfillment and the rest by sea.
  • Produce 10+ styles to get a flat 15% multi-creative discount on top of volume discounts.
  • Request flexible payment terms on larger orders.


2. Collaborate With Us on Design

We love it when brands ask how they can design with both environmental and financial sustainability in mind. When we collaborate on product design and testing early on, we’re able to optimize our workflow and thus pass on the savings. A few tips:

  • Choose fabrics that we already source in bulk (like this incredible recycled cotton)
  • Consider using deadstock fabrics, offcuts, and zippers that we can offer at discounted rates
  • Ask us about the fabrics and customization options that are the most affordable (but still ethical, of course!)


3. Get Creative with Ocean Freight & Strategic Shipping

Global transport and logistics is another major cost factor for brands. But, it’s possible to realize HUGE savings by using ocean freight instead of air freight when shipping large quantities from India and by streamlining your shipment process.

Ocean shipping can cost 40-60% less than air shipping. The tradeoff is slower transit times – air shipments can arrive from India in less than a week, but ocean freight can take up to two months (plus time for production). However, ocean freight is ideal for large seasonal or reorders that don’t require quick turnaround. If you don’t need a whole container, it’s possible to:

  • Get in on our existing bulk shipments to the Midwest – Chicagoland shipments are always discounted.
  • Consider sourcing only your larger items by sea (hoodies, big bags, and blankets are a great fit).
  • Have us airship directly to your global clients for a flat $35 split fee and avoid double shipping costs (for example, if you’re a Canadian brand but want to ship to the US, we can handle that for you)

We hope this helps you bring your business to the next level. As always, please reach out to [email protected] with any specific questions.