FedEx Case Study: Alaffia

In the Kotokoli language, Alaffia translates to, “it’s all good” and is the typical response to the question, “How are you?” For founders Rose and Olowo-n’djo Tchala, Alaffia seemed like the perfect name for their extraordinary company. And when they chose a strategic provider to help guide their shipping needs, they wanted an equally exceptional company who embraced their philosophy.

Alaffia began in 2003 when Rose and Olowo-n’djo were still in school at the University of California at Davis. Rose and Olowo-n’djo founded the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative in Togo as a way to raise funds to conduct community empowerment projects in Togo. From the beginning, Rose and Olowo-n’djo envisioned Alaffia as an honest, moral-based company that cares more about their communities than they do about making a profit.

Philanthropic by nature, Alaffia is deeply committed to fair trade practices and environmental responsibility. They are also dedicated to offering equal employment opportunities, engaging in sustainable practices, and providing healthy and safe working conditions. Today, most of Alaffia’s market is through Whole Foods and other natural food stores and co-ops across the U.S. and Canada. Currently, they have about 1,000 wholesale customers.

Alaffia started working with FedEx in 2003. Initially, they used FedEx Ground® in California for their wholesale products. When they moved to Washington, they switched from FedEx to a competitor. In 2008, a FedEx rep started to visit the Alaffia headquarters and recognized that the company was rapidly growing and could use more support. It was this attention to detail that convinced Alaffia to switch back to FedEx. Rose Hyde at Alaffia says, “Since we’re a direct shipper, we need to have an easy shipping experience that’s very predictable. We ship a lot of heavy packages that are prone to damage. FedEx has been reliable, and we have fewer shipping delays.”The FedEx rep also helped integrate Alaffia’s order management system with FedEx Ship Manager® Software, which made them more efficient. Rose goes on to say, “the QuickBooks integration has improved tracking and customer service. Also, the reports are useful for monitoring how much of our sales price goes to shipping.” FedEx also brought in a warehouse engineer for a consultation and he put together a comprehensive report detailing how Alaffia could improve their package flow and become more efficient in their facility. FedEx then installed several workstations and provided PCs, thermal printers and electronic scales. Alaffia’s FedEx rep also offered a bundled pricing solution with FedEx Freight that combined their small package and LTL (less-than-truckload) revenue to obtain deeper incentives. Rose sums up the relationship by saying, “It’s nice to have someone that stops by and checks in with us. Whenever we have a problem, our rep does his best to help straighten it out. It’s nice to have someone that cares.”

To Alaffia, taking care of the customer is the most important part of their business. FedEx couldn’t agree more.