“Let me start by saying that shipping can be a terrible experience. You have to find boxes and bubble wrap … and who knows how much everything will cost at the end of the day?”
That’s how my conversation with Joan Touchstone, director of communications for Shyp, started.
Shyp is a mobile application and shipping service that aims to simplify shipping by eliminating the need to package and drop off shipments. Users simply download the iPhone or Android app, take a photo of the item they wish to send, and Shyp dispatches a courier (aptly named a “Hero”) to their doorstep to pick up items on demand. They then professionally package every item – no cardboard box or bubble tape required.
Shyp launched in 2014 and has been making a buzz ever since. As Joan says, “We’re looking to transform the shipping industry by reducing the cost to send items and also saving people time in the process.”
We had the opportunity to chat with Joan about how Shyp started and where it’s headed next. Here’s what she had to say.
Nancy: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Maybe we can start by getting a little more background on Shyp’s founding?
Joan: Shyp was founded in July 2013 by Kevin Gibbon and Joshua Scott, but the idea for it actually came about a decade earlier.
You see, Kevin was an eBay power seller in Canada, shipping goods across North America. He was doing very well — he had a makeshift fulfillment center in his basement, and he was even paying for college through his sales. But he got to a point where he either needed to hire people to help him with shipping or close down his business.
The shipping and packaging was just so time-intensive that he couldn’t scale, so he ended up closing his eBay shop.
Nancy: I feel like that’s a scenario our readers can easily relate to — you have a great idea for a business and a dream of where you want to take it, but the day-to-day processes and lack of technology get in the way.
Joan: Absolutely. The incident always nagged at Kevin. He thought, “If shipping is a pain for me, it must be a big problem for everyone else.”
Fast forward a decade later to San Francisco — Kevin and Josh come together and decide to solve that problem by founding Shyp.
Nancy: I know Shyp is mainly marketed toward consumers, but businesses have also embraced it.
Joan: That’s right. The responses we’ve seen just speak to the fact that shipping is a universal problem. A good portion of our volume is small business owners — people who sell stuff online, like eBay sellers, Etsy sellers — people suffering the same bottleneck as Kevin did.
With Shyp, those people can focus on their business or their craft, rather than worry about shipping. And the amazing thing is that our adoption by businesses has been completely viral.
People start using Shyp for personal reasons — to send a gift or return things online — and then they realize they can use it for their business as well.
Nancy: I know you just launched an Android version of your app, and you’ve got other exciting things in the works. Can you give us a taste of where Shyp is heading next?
Joan: In the past 10 months, we’ve opened up publicly in San Francisco, New York City (both Manhattan and Brooklyn) and Miami. Next, we’re going to continue our national expansion with plans to open in Los Angeles and other cities.
Another huge opportunity that we’re seeing is to transform how people return online purchases. For example, if you order something from J. Crew or Nordstrom or Amazon and it doesn’t fit, you need to find a way to send it back. We’re exploring ways to make that process even easier.
Nancy: Returns is definitely an exciting area to be in. Before we close, do you have any advice you’d like to share with budding ecommerce business owners?
Joan: While there are only a few major carriers, there are many different service options with a wide array of costs associated with those options. It can get confusing; for almost any shipment, any one of those carriers could meet your goals.
Since size and weight dictate the least expensive method, we have two recommendations –both of which Shyp does for our customers automatically:
- Consider the size of your boxes or envelopes when shipping your goods, because the smaller the box or envelope, the less it will cost — especially with dimensional weight pricing in place.
- Try to price compare shipping speeds and carriers.
Again, Shyp will do both these things for you, creating a custom box for every shipment and price-comparing carriers to make sure you get the lowest-cost shipping rate. Whether you’re a consumer sending a gift or a small business that sells goods to customers, shipping is complicated.
For more insight, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page.