Even the most novice eCommerce Retailer knows that the job isn’t done after a customer enters their credit card, hits submit and checks out of a shopping cart. Most, no doubt, have little problem picking, packing, and shipping orders to domestic customers. That said throw in a wrinkle like shipping internationally, handling returns, or optimizing inventory warehousing to save on shipping costs and the complexity of the fulfillment process increases significantly.
Several companies have sprung up over the years to help retailers solve those and many other related ecommerce logistic problems. I caught up with Damon Schechter, CEO of Shipwire to learn more about how third party fulfillment like his help growing retailers save money and scale their operations, both domestically and internationally. Here’s the interview-
Nii: Describe the Shipwire Logistics Platform in 140 characters or less.
Damon: Shipwire provides order fulfillment services to brands to help them expand globally and provide a great buyer experience.
Nii: At what point does it make sense for a growing eCommerce retailer to use a third party fulfillment partner?
Damon: Today merchants from over 40 countries store inventory in our 7 warehouses located in 4 regions (N.Am., Canada, Europe and Asia) and ship to buyers in over 180 countries.
We accommodate businesses that ship as few as 8 orders per month, though it makes more financial sense as your business grows beyond that.
Typically, the best time to use an order fulfillment partner like Shipwire is when you’re spending too much time on shipping and logistics, and not enough on what you’re actually good at: developing or selling your product. The important thing is to focus – e.g. a brand that designs and sells a cool iPhone accessory, or a cosmetic product, probably doesn’t specialize in shipping. Once you grow enough that you’re looking into customized solutions for label printing, for example, is the right time to talk to Shipwire.
The other point where it makes sense to use a fulfillment partner, is when a brand is seeking to expand into a new market. If you’re based in New York, but there’s demand for your product in the U.K., you can either address that market yourself, or deal with the experts. Using Shipwire means you can get your product to market faster, and more importantly ship for less. Storing the product in the U.K. means only paying import duties once, instead of on every order, and that leads to fewer returns and happier customers.
Can moving fulfillment to a third party lower shipping fees? If so what kind of cost savings are typical for merchants shifting fulfillment to Shipwire?
For domestic orders, you can save as much as 35% on shipping. For international orders, you can get savings as high as 75% by using Shipwire. The direct savings are very high, but there are also soft savings: by shipping the products yourself, you’re incurring the costs of running your own warehouse and staff, and in some cases equipment and machinery.
Our Shipping Calculator is an interactive way of looking at savings: http://www.shipwire.com/w/support/shipping-calculator/
Nii: Returns are often a pain point for many retailers, how does Shipwire facilitate the return/refund/exchange process?
Damon: Keeping customers happy means having a hassle-free returns process. If a customer has received a product and wants to return it, Shipwire lets you send them a return label which they stick right on the box, and send it back to the warehouse. If the product is unopened, it gets placed right back into the inventory, and your inventory levels are adjusted accordingly. You always have the option to send it back to your own office or facility, but of course sending it right back to stock makes for a hassle-free experience.
Nii: What’s next for the Shipwire Team?
Damon: We are very excited about expanding our warehouse network to give our customers truly global reach. Our new facility in Hong Kong will give brands an unprecedented level of access to markets such as China, Japan, Korea, and Australia.
There are so many customers in Asia-Pacific, that countless brands just aren’t reaching. Until now it was only viable for large Fortune 500 companies to expand into new geographic markets. We want to make it possible for a product startup, or a smaller brand, to reach customers as efficiently in Shanghai as in Seattle.
Nii: How can a merchant get started with Shipwire to streamline and improve their logistics?
Damon: The best way to get started is to sign up for a free trial at http://www.shipwire.com/sign-up to see it in action. But it’s also very important to get some of your questions answered by one of our account representatives, who have seen it all when it comes to shipping and logistics, and can help get those burning questions answered.
The Emerging eCommerce Technology Spotlight Series is a series of blog posts where we sit down and interview the founders and executives of exciting, emerging, and compelling technology and platform companies about how their technology can help propel ecommerce organizations to the next level.