New York entrepreneur Lee Hnetinka is the co-founder and CEO of Darkstore, a startup company that provides ultra-fast shipping services for e-commerce brands. In his leadership role at Darkstore, Lee Hnetinka offers clients same-day and one-hour shipping via local inventory in major cities such as New York and San Francisco.
The nature of service offered by same-day delivery companies necessitates the constant availability and accessibility of products. Since retailers tend to cluster their inventories in regions with elevated consumer densities, same-day delivery services currently remain restricted to highly urbanized areas (although this may change soon). But wherever they operate, retailers should prioritize updating their inventories in order to accurately determine which products are available for same-day shipping.
From an operations perspective, ultra-fast shipping is only possible with an extremely efficient warehouse retrieval and packing process. This often requires significant investment in warehouse infrastructure, which prices most small retailers out of the market. Startups such as Darkstore, however, are changing the game by allowing e-commerce retailers to benefit from external infrastructure on a per-shipment basis, without the need for a major investment.
As CEO of Darkstore in New York City, Lee Hnetinka dedicates his time to creating the best possible delivery experience for ecommerce customers. To stay healthy both physically and mentally, Lee Hnetinka practices Bikram yoga, a specialized type of hot yoga meant to detoxify the body while healing many types of chronic pain.
Consisting of a sequence of 26 precise postures and two breathing exercises completed over 90 minutes in a room heated to around 100 degrees, Bikram Yoga is a demanding yet highly beneficial practice, gaining popularity worldwide.
Physically, it greatly improves flexibility, and the heat of the room causes the body to sweat out toxins. Further, according to a 2014 study, 94 percent of participants said their sleep had gotten better after a year of regular Bikram yoga practice. Other benefits range from improved balance and mobility to better-quality blood flow. This, in turn, improves the immune system, protecting the body from illnesses. This type of yoga also helps with metabolic and digestive functions, making it easier to lose weight outside of class.
Guided by WunWun founder Lee Hnetinka, Darkstore is an emerging force in the same-day delivery fulfillment sphere. As described by Lee Hnetinka, the Darkstore model is directly influenced by disruptors such as Uber and Airbnb in serving as an efficient, responsive fulfillment provider that does not actually run a fulfillment center.
In a TechCrunch article, Mr. Hnetinka detailed a platform with a unique system in place that does not charge for inventory storage but rather places a 3 percent fee on all items shipped. The minimum charge is $2, with a $20 maximum. For example, when Tuft & Needle customers purchase a $750 mattress through the San Francisco showroom, Darkstore charges $20 for that item as it goes out the door.
In order to enable same-day fulfillment in San Francisco, Darkstore initially partnered with Storage SF in finding a way of quadrupling its per-square-foot revenues while providing customer-first fulfillment solutions. They created a win-win 70/30 revenue-sharing model, with the startup giving 70 percent of the 3 percent it charges to the storage facility as each item ships.