When the ecommerce software company needed more administrative and employee support, they partnered with Sparrow for end-to-end leave management.
Cart.com is a commerce software, services, and logistics company that redefines how brands sell and fulfill products to customers. In addition to their one-of-a-kind commerce software, Cart.com specializes in fulfillment and logistics for B2B companies and D2C brands. They’re on a mission to simplify commerce by unifying the physical and digital infrastructure merchants need to meet customers wherever they are.
Cart.com is trusted by over 6,000 brands, including household names like Adidas, Swarovski, and Pandora. The company recently raised $60 million at a unicorn valuation—a vote of confidence that suggests their growth is only just beginning. To support their 1,200 employees, Cart.com relies on Sparrow for employee leave management.
Company values that put employees first
At the core of Cart.com’s success is the team of innovative, driven people behind their products and services. “For us, what you do is less important than how you do it,” said Andréa Ehlers, the Vice-President of HRIS & People Operations at Cart.com.
“We have six company values that center on our employees and on making sure we have a good environment for them to be themselves and thrive,” she explained. Among those core values—which encourage collaboration, resilience, resourcefulness, and questioning norms—is one that declares that Cart.com’s people are its biggest strength.
“It’s important to remember we’re all human, so we treat others like we want to be treated,” Ehlers said. “There’s a heavy focus on making sure the human who comes to work for our company is healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that we give them the tools and space to accomplish whatever they need to.”
That’s why Cart.com offers a wide range of benefits designed to support their employees inside and outside of work. In addition to comprehensive health insurance, 401(k) matching, and company equity, Cart.com offers commuter benefits, wellness programs, mental health support, flexible work scheduling, and unlimited vacation time.
Other benefits include generous parental leave, adoption assistance, childcare benefits, pet insurance, a continuing education stipend, and tuition reimbursement.
Cart.com is always searching for ways to improve their employee experience, which is why they decided to take their leave of absence administration to the next level.
Challenge: Keeping up with leave compliance and paperwork with minimal support
Before Cart.com partnered with Sparrow, the company hired a professional employer organization (PEO) to handle leave management administration. “The PEO was essentially a virtual filing cabinet for us,” said Hannah Thomas, HR Operations Manager at Cart.com. “I mostly manually managed everything by myself via an excel spreadsheet.”
Maintaining compliance while navigating ever-changing state regulations was challenging. “I spent a lot of time keeping up with the requirements and compliance standards for the 36 different states our employees live in, which was really complex,” Thomas said. “I was often learning as I went, and sometimes having to guess when it came to compliance.”
The team was struggling to juggle everything they needed to handle and coordinate from week to week. “That was our biggest pain point, as well as ensuring that we could securely store our paperwork,” explained Thomas. “Everything lived on my desktop, which wasn’t the best scenario.”
Cart.com’s HR team also spent a lot of time interfacing with employees and tracking down paperwork and signatures. “It was hard to communicate with employees about what they needed during the leave process and what their state requirements were,” she said. The hours added up, with Thomas spending a minimum of 12 to 15 hours a week on leaves.
Cart.com’s payroll team also ran into problems. “Things could easily go sideways when communicating with our PEO about pay, so we’d often see pay issues,” Ehlers said. “When an employee is on leave and there’s a disruption to their pay, that’s very unsettling to them.”
Managing payroll proved to be tedious and inefficient. “It was really difficult for us to estimate how much money an employee was going to get from the state, so we were waiting until we received the employee’s state information to be able to pay them,” Thomas said. “That unfortunately meant that our employees were going for some time without any pay because we couldn’t operate in the dark at the risk of severely overpaying them.”
Overwhelmed and frustrated with leave administration, Cart.com decided they needed a smarter solution—so they came to Sparrow.
The solution: Partnering with Sparrow for full-service leave management
Once Cart.com adopted a new enterprise management system last year, they began looking for a new leave administration partner. “We knew we had to outsource leave, but we went back and forth for months trying to find the right provider,” Ehlers said. “Eventually, we found Sparrow and knew it was the right choice. We came to them in a panic and they saved us.”
Right away, Cart.com’s HR team appreciated Sparrow’s transparency and flexibility. “Sparrow explained exactly what they would be able to do for us, and were also very accommodating,” said Thomas. “We had a long list of needs, and Sparrow was very receptive and willing to adapt with us.”
The first task was accepting Cart.com’s current leaves to reduce HR’s burden. “Sparrow was willing to accept our takeover leaves when no other vendor would,” Thomas explained. That prevented us from having to manage a long list of leaves halfway through the year on our own.”
Sparrow was able to take over every aspect of the leave process for Cart.com—from paperwork and payroll to employee correspondence and state compliance. “I’m so grateful for Sparrow’s expertise in knowing exactly what’s needed for each state’s leave policies, especially complex states like California and New Jersey,” said Thomas. “Their knowledge is top-notch.”
With Sparrow’s support, Thomas went from spending 12 to 15 hours a week at minimum on leave admin to three or four hours maximum. Cart.com’s payroll professionals also saw significant time savings. They cut down their hours from four to six per pay period on payroll to just 30 minutes, thanks to Sparrow’s automatic payroll calculations and regular payroll reports.
“We love being able to run a report and accurately plug the numbers in,” Thomas said. “Sparrow also saved our payroll manager a ton of time when it comes to questions and audits on our payroll, because she knows the information came straight from Sparrow and that she has direct support for the decisions that were made and why.”
Sparrow’s expertise streamlined Cart.com’s entire payroll process. “The accuracy of our payroll is much higher due to Sparrow’s detailed payroll plans,” added Thomas. In addition to conducting real-time calculations and categorizing them by state contribution and company contribution, Sparrow also regularly audits the payroll process to ensure accuracy.
“With Sparrow, our system supports our employees and keeps pay accurate and on time. If there is ever any overpayment, we can come up with a plan to recoup that,” Thomas explained. “And that saves our payroll team time, which ultimately saves us money.”
Cart.com considers Sparrow an extension of their team. “When we implemented Sparrow, we had recently revised almost all of our leave policies,” Thomas said. “And Sparrow went in depth to ensure that they understood our policies and how to apply them in detail.”
If there’s ever confusion over how to address tricky or unique cases, Sparrow specialists take initiative to figure it out. “Recently, we had a case where our leave policy was a bit murky, so our Sparrow specialist reached out and said, ‘Let’s discuss and work through this together.’ That open communication and making sure there wasn’t any assumption on her part was amazing,” Thomas explained.
A more enjoyable employee experience
Not only does Sparrow support Cart.com from an internal administrative standpoint, they also improve the leave experience for Cart.com’s employees. “From an employee perspective, the best part is the support on filing for all of those complicated benefits, especially the state benefits which no other vendor we shopped could support,” Thomas said.
“I’ve had feedback from both hourly and salary employees that using Sparrow has made the leave process so smooth,” she added. “We have a large hourly employee population in our fulfillment centers; some of those employees aren’t used to having leave benefits and don’t know what they’re eligible for. So, the feedback on Sparrow has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from folks in states like New Jersey, where the laws are more complex.”
Sparrow doesn’t just walk Cart.com employees through the steps they need to take—Sparrow leave specialists fill out their paperwork for them, submit it on time, and keep them in the loop.
“Oftentimes if the employee does it on their own, it takes them 10 to 14 days to fill out the paperwork,” Thomas explained. “But with Sparrow’s support, I’m seeing paperwork turn around in less than a week because Sparrow is able to help reach out to our employees’ healthcare providers and specify exactly what they need.”
Taking leave is also simpler from a payroll standpoint. “Our employees can log in and see exactly what they’re going to be paid on leave. And when their pay is adjusted, they see the adjustment,” Ehlers explained. “Our employee experience on the back side has been a major gain for Cart.com.”
Easier leave—for everyone involved
Sparrow’s dedicated administrative, payroll, and employee support has transformed Cart.com’s leave management process and leave-taking experience. “My team is happier and our employees are better off,” Ehlers said.
“Everyone at Sparrow is so polite and kind, so flexible and adaptable,” Thomas added. “They respond right away to my emails and jump to help with any issues that come up. They’re people I would work with any day, any time on anything.”