As consumers are increasingly getting accustomed to shopping from the comfort of their homes, it becomes critical for retail businesses to get their act together, and offer competing services to sustain traction. Primary of those services is the customer shipping experience, which ecommerce giants like Amazon have made a name for, obliterating competition through same-day and next-day shipping options.
Enter Shipsi, a startup that looks to level the instant shipping turf for retail shippers by helping them plug into last-mile networks to deliver goods. The idea is to help retailers compete with Amazon Prime’s same-day shipping option, while also fueling revenue to last-mile providers by utilizing their networks, said Chelsie Lee, co-founder and CEO of Shipsi.
“Shipsi was originally created as an aggregation tool for traditional logistics,” said Lee. “But when we started looking at the industry deeper, we noticed that every brand we were working with was bleeding to meet consumer demands and solve their instant gratification needs. And as the last-mile network continued to get more fragmented, it ended up working to our benefit, as we started aggregating and consolidating all of them together.”
Lee explained that Shipsi was working in a niche that has largely remained unnoticed in the industry, so much so that the startup has failed to encounter any credible competition in the space till date. “We find a lot of aggregation in the traditional logistics space, but not a lot of aggregation when it comes to the last mile network,” she said. “There are so many last-mile networks that we can capitalize on to get a standard geographic coverage and also be able to deliver specific goods based on size, weight, and dimensions.”
Today, the company has announced a raise of $1.9 million in seed funding, led by Initial Capital and Halogen Ventures. Technically, this is the third round of financing over Shipsi’s roadmap, with an initial self injection of $350k into the company to kickstart operations, followed by a friends-and-family raise of $380k.
“The focus of this funding round was on expansion and to try connecting with many more last-mile networks and ecommerce providers,” said Lee. “35-40% of the funding would go into development, and another 30-35% would go into expanding the team, to make sure that we have a customer service team that can fully support the new clients coming in. The rest of the resources go into sales and marketing, and towards some trade shows that we would attend.”
Startups are perennially in search of product market fit, and Shipsi is no different. Initially, the company was wary of resistance from warehouse providers, believing that it would be hard to convince them to accommodate new technology into their workflow. But surprisingly, the scenario turned out to be far more favorable, as Shipsi found warehouses eager enough to adopt technology that could help them gain Amazon-sque operating capacity.
Shipsi’s technology seamlessly integrates with existing retailer websites and their supply chains, and thus allows shippers to provide a hassle-free delivery experience to their end users. The pricing model of Shipsi is also flexible as it is volume-based, which means that users end up spending solely based on the RoI they get out of the solution.
“The biggest challenge to traction was in prioritizing which last-mile network to go after and which ecommerce providers to look at,” Lee said. “But because our integration is fast and easy for them to implement, we are not necessarily limiting ourselves until we get as much data behind us as we possibly can.”
Shipsi’s customers seem to be having a good time with the solution, with Lee noting that a bulk of the feedback being centered around happy customers who call up and talk about their sales getting doubled after their association with Shipsi. “We are continuously asking and meeting with our existing customers and even prospects, so that we can plan ahead and develop things in our roadmap,” she said. “We understand that making improvements is part of our evolution and that it is a requisite to be a leader in this space.”