AMA for Building Your E-commerce Business to Deliver Better Than Amazon.

nicholasdr
Jun 13, 2018

I am the co-founder of ShipHero, a platform that helps growing businesses manage inventory, fulfillment, and shipping. We have tripled in growth year-over-year and now have customers large and small from all over the world such as The Beatles, Canadian Tire, Nike, and Soxy. We've done this by obsessively focusing on responsive customer service and a comprehensive product that helps e-commerce business owners and 3PLs solve the problems of inventory, orders and shipping orders. AMA

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twitter.com/weareshiphero/status/1006185436279164929

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What can business owners do to ensure their stores are secure? How can they reassure customers about the security of the site and of any transactions that occur on it?
Jun 19, 10:47PM EDT0

Hello Cecilyn,

Fab question. All reputable ecommerce platforms run very secure platforms. The best companies also invest a lot of resources and time into keeping their platforms secure, and share this information so you can learn more.

Here's more on Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/pci-compliant

Over $123 billion dollars was spent on ecommerce sites in just the US, which goes to show that most consumers are now comfortable with ecommerce payments. Credit Card companies have also improved how fraud is detected and disputes are resolved.

My recommendation would be to have a very easy to read policy on your security practices (if you're using Shopify, you can point to the Shopify writeup for example). 

There are a lot of great writeups worth reading, here's a good one: https://www.hwcreative.com/blog/crafting-shopify-credibility-with-seo

Wishing you the best on your endeavours :)

Last edited @ Jun 20, 1:28PM EDT.
Jun 20, 11:26AM EDT0
What eCommerce innovations are exciting you the most these days?
Jun 19, 7:08PM EDT0

Hello MARAM!

It seems like there's so much happening right now that's truly exciting.

What I'm excited about:

  1. Closer eCommerce & Retail experiences. I was recently at a Warby Parker store in Grand Central, NY and was able to purchase one of the items I had previously abandoned in my shopping cart from a few days before. Retail and eCommerce are just 2 different channels, and it's going to be fun to see how brings bring those experiences together and make it more personal for customers no matter if it's on the phone or in a store.
  2. Fast delivery! Not just 2 days, but a few hours. Sure, this is not a new concept, however, the experience is incosistent and not reliable enough for me to think of this as part of a general shopping experience. We're not far off though.
  3. Better content and ecommerce options. I want to see options to buy something I like in the show I'm watching on my smarttv, or review products with VR (Shopify are pushing on this).

So many things coming - and I'm barely scatching the surface :)

Jun 20, 11:13AM EDT0
How do you as a business owner determine if ecommerce is a smart solution?
Jun 18, 6:01AM EDT0

Hello JLANSANGAN2,

Interesting question. My answer is a question I guess.

Is your business selling products to customers?

Jun 18, 2:05PM EDT0
Why is it important today for sites to be both mobile and social media friendly? How can ShipHero help with both of these?
Jun 17, 11:32PM EDT0

Hello RDCSALT!

Fabulous question.

Simply put, you need to be where your customers are - both in the device they use, and the context of their user experience.

You don't want to lose out on customers who may see something to buy on instgram using their mobile device, to be forced to then use another device (would they even have a desktop / laptop? prolly not) to then seperately make a purchase.

Something we focused on when starting ShipHero was creating a comprehensive set of tools for mobile devices. Designed and built to look and feel like typical smart phone apps. This makes it easy to do things in the warehouse such as fulfil orders, create shipping labels, cycle count inventory, receive purhase orders or even print / scan barcode labels.

By making things easier, people are less prone to making mistakes, leading to a better performing warehouse.

Jun 18, 2:10PM EDT0
What do you think are the most common mistakes online retailers make when it comes to setting up e-shop?
Jun 17, 4:12PM EDT0

Hello JASONCHONG,

Two major topics on this question.

1. Marketing & Sales.

This is a big big subject, with many great resources out there. I recommend you looking at the Shopify blog for great insight and resources, BigCommerce also has fantastic resources (and we have a few stories on the ShipHero blog as well).

2. Fulfillment & Customer Support

This topic I can talk to with a bit more insight. Though again, check out the ShipHero Blog for some interesting insight.

Most typical mistakes we see being made from a fulfillment perspective are:

  1. Incorrect inventory counts. This is a basic thing, however, it's surprising how ecommerce businesses struggle with this (and why ShipHero is a great inventory management solution). It's critical you have a correct inventory count of every item you sell, as well as know when to reorder or what not to sell in the future because of lack of demand. 
  2. Manual Shipping. Having to decide which shipping carrier (USPS or UPS for example) or method to use (Overnight, Express?) for each order will really slow things down. Use technology (you knew it - ShipHero can do that for you) to figure out the best carrier and method for each order automically.
  3. High error rate. Incorrect items in your customers orders, incorrect amounts, late orders, incorrect addresses, missing fraud purchases etc - these will all massively prevent an ecommerce business from succeeding. Prevent this with an effective OMS (Order Management System) that is digital and mobile. Use barcode scanners (we love the Socket Mobile scanners for their durability, ease of use and form factor). You should be aiming to be correct on orders at least 99.8 % of the time.
  4. Unclear or confusing returns process. Make it easy for your customers to return things. Sure, some customers may not be honest about a return, but most are, and a clear and easy returns policy can a contributing factor to the sale in the first place.
  5. Slow customer service and bad communication. Let a customer know when their order has shipped, with a tracking link. Use something like Intercom for live customer chat (what we use at ShipHero). Respond to customer queries, reach out to customers who are unhappy and generally be responsive. It makes a big difference when you know you're dealing with real humans who can help you with a problem or question.

Well, that's a good start! Good luck with you endeavours and thank you for the question :)

Jun 18, 2:44PM EDT0
What’s the main goal of ShipHero? What do you want to offer your clients ultimately?
Jun 15, 6:35AM EDT0

Happy Friday ALBATROSS!

We offer a comprehensive cloud based WMS/OMS solution that's easy to use.  If you want to add a 3PL (or 3PLs plural) to extend your existing capability or outsource all fulfllment, use ShipHero Marketplace.

Our goal is simple. Make it easier for ecommerce businesses to win at fulfillment.

Jun 15, 8:14AM EDT0
Any tips you can share about time management? What’s the usual schedule of a company’s founder like?
Jun 15, 5:50AM EDT0

Fantabulous question MONJY!

Something I have honestly struggled with. Startup life, at least in my experience is about freedom to choose what you prioritize, however the struggle is what to prioritize!

I start my day by writing out the key objectives I want to get done for that day. I respond to emails and have a quick 10 minute standup meeting with my team.

Then, several hours seem to fly by! and before you now it, it's 2pm. I have a stop and reflect for 10 mins around this time, see how I'm doing on my objectives and get back into it. Stop around 7pm. Typically most nights there are calls with customers in other parts of the world (different timezones) and the catchup of emails etc from the day. Most nights I put a hard stop in around 10pm, and will every now and then get a glass of wine in :)

One bit of advice I have is this. It's easy to work, and work you will. That said, you need to make sure you're getting some time to yourself. This does wonders for productivity and overall health. Be sure to take care of yourself!

I also never bother with wifi (outrageous!) on planes, and use that time to be disconnected and either sleep or read.

Wishing you much success in your endeavours. Work hard, keep at it and be sure to be kind to yourself.

Jun 15, 8:27AM EDT0
How can one deliver better than Amazon? What are some disadvantages of Amazon’s shipping process?
Jun 14, 9:46PM EDT0

Hello GENERICDAISY,

It's quite a question. "Better" comes in a few flavours. Probably the toughest area to compete with Amazon on is speed - going up against the amazing machine that is Amazon distribution centres is tough.

That said. Couple of ways we are seeing customers create a better customer experience.

Lets talk about speed. In order to ship fast, you need to do a couple of things.

  • Have a very fast turn around time for inbound orders. Have a great WMS/OMS solution like ShipHero (I know I know, I might be a bit obsessed) which can take care of many of the typical tasks of order fulfillment. Think order priority, special instructions for the packer, shipping method etc.
  • Speed up how you fulfill orders, and do this without making mistakes. This is easy with the right tools. Basically, let technology do the work for you. Use locations for inventory, batch pick (quick video on that) orders in bulk, use barcodes for picking confirmation and remove the decision points pickers / packers need to make.

Communication. Getting something in 2 days without any communication or tracking link is a worse experience vs having something delivered in 3 - 4 days with great communication. Sending a shipping notification as soon as that order is fulfilled with a tracking link is easy (especially using ShipHero of course. I am ridiculous.).

Lastly, here's a big area of advantage you have over Amazon. 

Branded Experience.

Sure, if we're buying light bulbs, general commodity type products, getting something loosely packed in a brown Amazon box is fine, because you wanted it fast and cheap. However, if you're buying something that's not the cheapest or fastest, you're most likely buying into the the brand experience.

We wrote some tips on this recently - 4 ways to give your ecommerce customers a memorable unboxing experience.

The basic takeway being, you have the opportunity to brand and personalize what your customer receives, make it special and not so generic. That's right, a superior experience vs Amazon, something memorable and more valuable.

There I go again with lot's of talking. Hopefully that gives you some ideas!

Wishing you much success in your endeavours - kick arse out there :)

Last edited @ Jun 15, 8:03AM EDT.
Jun 15, 8:02AM EDT0
How can a startup e-commence business get in touch with your company?
Jun 14, 6:00PM EDT0

Ello MARY8, 

Happy bloomin Friday! #tgif

You can chat with us directly over at shiphero.com or shoot us an email at hello(at)shiphero.com

Have a fantastic weekend.

Jun 15, 7:42AM EDT0
Can dropship startups also work with ShipHero?
Jun 13, 8:52PM EDT0

Hello CHUNKY!

You can call me Captain Slow :)

ShipHero does indeed support drop shipping. How's that for a simple answer?

Happy Thursday. Kick arse today.

Jun 14, 10:01AM EDT0
What’s the story behind the brand name ShipHero?
Jun 13, 8:05PM EDT0

Hello PJAIN,

Well, it started when we had just finished the ascent of Mount Everest and we were 2 glasses of scotch in and - oh right, that's fiction :)

Ok, the real story. Myself and Aaron were fixated on the problem we were going to solve. "Make ecommerce fulfillment easy for ecommerce businesses".

One of the core premises of our solution was, how can you know who in your warehouse team is awesome, and who might be slacking?

Thinking about this further, a lot of what helps motivate people to do great work is recognition and to know you're making a difference. On the flip side of that, underperformers in a team can be quite toxic to the rest of the team trying to do a great job.

So with this in mind, our focus was quite clear. We're going to help companies discover their best employees, while at the same time, help companies that use ShipHero have happy customers!

We needed to have some relevance to our industry in the name, and the word warehouse seemed a tad boring. So after much real scotch and brainstorming, and our fair share of truly horrific ideas, we ended up with what sounded about right.

ShipHero!

That said, we feel our brand is not about the story of ShipHero. Because we're the software that powers great brands, the best stories about how we're solving problems are the stories of the brands using our software.

It's not about us, it's about the ecommerce business owners and empoyees who get up everyday to run successful businesses.

We're glad to be a part of this, to make a difference and solve some real problems. So yeah, that's our brand.

Hope that answers your question. Sorry it's so many words :)

Last edited @ Jun 14, 12:03PM EDT.
Jun 14, 10:13AM EDT0
Are there any qualifications or limitations for a business to work with you?
Jun 13, 4:04PM EDT1

Beep Bop SAROJJAIN,

No qualifications - what is a fit for the business. Goes without saying it should be an ecommerce business (we have a number of customers who sell online and in store as well).

If the business needs help with inventory, order management and shipping and wants to do this in-house,  then ShipHero SaaS is worth a look. 

If the business is looking to outsource for ecommerce fulfillment, then ShipHero Marketplace is worth a look.

Hope that helps!

Jun 13, 4:15PM EDT0
Is there a minimum business status before a company can work with ShipHero? Or are very small businesses welcome too?
Jun 13, 3:51PM EDT1

Nice to meet you PROADLINE,

Thank you for the question :)

We welcome all businesses that need a solution for their ecommerce fulfillment side. 

My shortest answer of the day!

Last edited @ Jun 15, 10:22AM EDT.
Jun 13, 4:02PM EDT0
Does ShipHero ship anywhere in the world? What are your shipping conditions?
Jun 13, 1:25PM EDT1

Happy Wednesday CHINKS,

ShipHero software is used to ship everywhere indeed, infact, we're constantly impressed on where products are being shipped to.

While we don't "ship", we enable the process of making sure the order is fulfilled and then the correct shipping label is generated and used. Important to know that international shipping means dealing with customs which means getting all of the customs information correct. 

ShipHero allows you to set at a product level, the customs value, description or even if it should be included on the invoice (or not), making the international shipping process easier.

We do have a number of articles on International Shipping, probably one of the more important elements to know is the difference between DDP and DDU. Basically - who pays the taxes on an international shipment.

Here's the article I wrote up: About DDU and DDP

Jun 13, 1:46PM EDT0
When working with ShipHero, can a company use your own customer support team too?
Jun 13, 12:39PM EDT1

Ello NILOY10,

I like your thinking. If you're using a 3PL from ShipHero Marketplace then yes! There are fantastic 3PLs that offer customer support for your customers.

Oddly makes me want to dance, not sure why.

Last edited @ Jun 15, 10:23AM EDT.
Jun 13, 12:42PM EDT0

What advice would you give to brands branching out into e-com who are currently exploring shipping and fulfillment?

Jun 13, 11:38AM EDT1

Hello MIKEYG,

So many things! I tend to talk a lot, so will try and keep this brief, at least, highlight the obvious points.

We see companies who have traditionally been b2b focus in the past (fewer but way larger wholesale orders, typically freight shipping) exploring or shifting to direct to consumer fulfillment.  In those cases, they already have a good understanding of running a warehouse, and basically need to transform processes and figure out customer support. In most of these cases, it's about finding the right technology platform. 

For businesses that have not run a warehouse or dabbled in fulfillment, there's a lot a ground to cover, but it can be summed up in a few categories.

  1. What is your shipping strategy? Which carriers will you be using, where are you shipping to? what are the shipments in terms of dimenson and weight. Will you be offering a free shipping option?
  2. Is maintaining inventory and running a warehouse something the business wants to take on? Obviously, leasing space, hiring people, storing product etc are different tasks than marketing, selling, customer support etc. If the business wants to take this on, then it will require investment in time and money.
  3. Whats the volume? If the business is indeed running it's own warehouse, then volume needs to be taken into account. Not only an average, but also what are the projected spikes, say during holiday season or during a promotion. Its important to know from a team capacity perspective and of course, warehouse space perspective.
  4. How are fulfillment processes tied into customer support? Great ecommerce shipping is about responsive customer support, communication, returns, exchanges etc. This requires a customer support team that are connected with the operations of a warehouse, be sure there are defined channels of communication and processes to handle customer order changes, returns etc.

There are a bunch of fantastic write-ups on this topic, most recently Shopify posted The Beginner's Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment which gets into a lot more detail than me - a really great read.

Hope that helps chap, know I'm only scratching the surface :)

Last edited @ Jun 13, 12:55PM EDT.
Jun 13, 12:01PM EDT0

Do you have the capability to store and ship perishable items (e.g. refrigerated or frozen foods), if so, how does this compare to Amazon's fulfillment rules? If not, do you plan to expand to this in the future? 

Jun 13, 11:19AM EDT1

Fantastic question LIZHOLMQUIST!

We do not have lot tracking or expiration date tracking as of this AMA! These features are in the works and planned for release later this year. 

Jun 13, 11:46AM EDT0
How does ShipHero stand against competition? What does your company do better?
Jun 13, 10:58AM EDT1

Ello FALLIN_DOVE :)

It's interesting. When we first started out, we had less features and were rather scrappy in how we looked at our offering vs the competition.

Several years later, with more features and more platform ability I would say, and bear with me - we don't really have a direct competitor.

Yeah, there are many apps, plugins, solutions large and small aimed at helping ecommerce businesses with inventory, or printing shipping labels, or printing barcodes - however, try getting all that running on in a single solution.

Not so easy. Add on top of that, something that would give you the flexibility to work with 3PLs, not easy at all unless you build something.

For inventory management, we are often finding ourselves compared to Cin7 and SkuVault. For Shipping label generation, ShipStation and Shipworks. For 3PL fulfillment, ShipBob, 3PL Central and Flex. Our approach differs from what these companies provide - but everyone has a fit, for example, ShipStation is worth consideration (at least as of writing this answer) for fresh businesses starting out and need to get a few shipments out.

So yeah, I guess we have a lot of competition if you looked at the number of companies that have the word "ship" in their name! The problems we are solving for scaling ecommerce businesses who need to be smart about fulfillment and our approach seems to be something a lot of ecommerce businesses prefer, and we're thankful for that while continuing to add more value each and every day.

Last edited @ Jun 15, 10:30AM EDT.
Jun 13, 11:44AM EDT0
As the company’s founder, how involved are you in the ShipHero business?
Jun 13, 7:48AM EDT1

Ello SCHNIDER2K,

Fabtastic question. Myself and Aaron (other co-founder and what I like to call big brain) are very involved, we need to be as we still have so much to do.

My day to day is mainly focused on answering questions on what we offer, doing demos with new leads, visiting customers warehouses and growing our team.

We've built a profitable business, and are 25 people as of this moment - so there's opportunity as you scale to give team members ownership of roles and tasks.

For example, this time last year I was working support chat all day. Today we have much smarter people covering support and I can focus on annoying you on #AMA along with other efforts to talk about ShipHero and help customers.

ShipHero and providing value to our customers is our absolute focus.

Last edited @ Jun 15, 10:32AM EDT.
Jun 13, 9:08AM EDT0
Was it ever difficult for you delegate very complicated tasks to your employees? How does put 100% trust on employees?
Jun 13, 6:59AM EDT0

KRISTEN,

That's a difficult question for me to answer, I will need to delegate that.

I kid!

It can be difficult to delegate if the approach to delegation is more task oriented - at least in my opinion and experience.

What I mean by that is, most of us, me included, do a much better job and feel more invested when we're given objectives or tasks in areas we can own.

For me at least, what has worked well is sharing the vision and goals of what you're trying to do. Instead of "can you do x", more, "we need to do x, and this is why. I need your help, can you take this on?". 

Of course, this also is about personality - but in most cases, giving someone a clear objective with an option to take ownership and work with you to accomplish tasks versus simply telling someone to do tasks will typically result a happier team member, better outcome and more willingness to go beyond what you originally expected.

Hope that helps!

Last edited @ Jun 15, 10:34AM EDT.
Jun 13, 9:16AM EDT0
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