I hate standing in lines. It's inefficient (even if you're lucky enough to be in a place that uses a serpentine line), and all I can think about is what else I could be getting done. And one of my least favorite times to wait in line? When I'm shipping a package.
If you've ever shipped a box of Christmas presents, you've been there. If you've had to return an item you purchased online, you've been there (let's not even get started on the lies around "fit as expected" clothing). If you use eBay, you've been there. If you're a small business or out-of-your house consumer-facing venture (hi, Etsy sellers!), you've been there, too.
Sure, there are a few online options: Stamps.com, but then it has to go USPS, with all of the accompanying constraints (plus, they have a monthly subscription model). Or you can print labels from the FedEx or UPS sites, but there's no way to know if you'd get a better price or ship time without checking every other site, which is a massive time-suck. (Did I mention I'm also thrifty? Spending time versus money is like the ultimate exercise in picking the lesser of two evils.) Or you could use an option like shyp.com, which provides on-demand pick-up, packaging and shipping of your items, but it's gonna cost you some premium pricing for that convenience.
The shipping industry as a whole is fragmented, inefficient and costly, at least for small-scale shippers. ZipShipit wants to change that. The company "brings simplicity, convenience and savings to your everyday shipping needs," and promises to help you save up to 40% on your next shipment, while allowing you to compare prices between carriers, print the label from your home, and pay discounted rates.
How? Simple. ZipShipit is modeled on the now-ubiquitous travel industry sites like Expedia and Travelocity, and allows you to do a similarly styled comparison-shop in one page — currently across UPS, FedEx and the USPS for domestic shipping, and those plus DHL for international shipping. In addition, if you are in Chicago, New York City or San Francisco, ZipShipit offers UberRUSH as well. (While these are the current partners, they are constantly working to expand, and will be adding two other service carriers for in-town on-demand delivery in Q4 of 2016, which will grow their on-demand delivery footprint from three cities to over 50.)
From the Founder: What's one piece of advice you'd give to other entrepreneurs, or something that you wish you'd known when you started?
"Follow your dream. If you have an idea, pursue it in a systematic way. If you don't pursue it, you will never know if it was good or not. Don't let a dream go to waste! Also, I wish I knew the vast amount of resources on open hearts available in Atlanta to help budding startups to learn, network, grow and thrive. "
Founder Mitesh Patel was inspired to create the platform one day while he was standing in a shipping line. "I was observing the customers and noted a few of the questions that stuck out in my mind: 'What are my shipping options? What carriers do you offer? Is that the best price?'" Mitesh recalls. "While a majority of the packages they brought in were pre-packed, this prompted me to think about why, in 2015, someone needed to lug a package down to the shipping store or post office to send it. Why couldn't you compare prices from the comfort of your own home, print a label and send something?"
The idea stuck, and Mitesh began to study and research the business and industry. With parents who were also involved in the shipping industry, and a yen for going into business for himself, creating ZipShipit was practically inevitable for him.
The company went into beta in February of this year, and is already building substantial traction as they add on shipping carriers. They pass on impressive savings directly to their users, which, in addition to the convenience, provides an incentive for shipping through their platform. Though most consumers don't ship on a regular basis, Mitesh says they have about 20 percent of repeat users who send something about once a week. The ideal consumer customers are parents who have an out-of-town college student, where they are constantly sending care packages and forgotten "stuff" to their child, and the child is sending things back to the parents and shipping things home at the end of the semester.
ZipShipit is also targeting small professional firms which ship a few documents or packages on a more consistent cycle, providing a base of reliable recurring revenue. These include companies like CPAs, attorneys, architects, mortgage brokers, and any other business that ships just a few package a week. While those small businesses are able to open accounts directly with carriers, they still don't get the ability to compare prices, and then also would need to balance switching between each carrier site and account, re-entering the information to get a true price check. (My efficient side completely overrode my cheap side right there. Because, nope.)
One of the biggest hurdles for B2C service companies is the customer service and support side; ZipShipit provides not only a comprehensive FAQ and packing tips to avoid common mistakes, but also has several ways to contact them: either by email or by creating a shipment support ticket from the Website itself. In addition, they are working on adding a live chat function to the site, which will allow instantaneous support.
From the Founder: What was the hardest part of launching, and what was the best part?
"The hardest part of launching is not getting traction with a product that you know is great because everyone you talk to tells you so. But traction comes slow, because people don't have something to ship, while you are fresh in their minds.
The best part of launching is knowing that we are able to help a "Yuge" (huge) number of people save time and money and eliminate the hassle of shipping, in an industry that handles 28 million packages per day. "
And if there is a lost or damaged package, ZipShipit helps with all communications with the carriers to resolve the issue as quickly and smoothly as possible. "The customer does not have to stay on hold and follow up with the carrier," Mitesh says. "We do that."
Right now, the application is desktop-based, and though there are plans for an app in 2017, Mitesh says they want to first focus on the Web site. "We need to get the site to the standard that we want in order to provide the best user experience, before we venture into adding yet another feature to the product." Mitesh says. Along those lines, their next step is continuous improvement on the site's speed and user experience, as well as getting the word out to as many as possible to try ZipShipit and give them feedback on how they can make the experience smoother, faster and better.
"We want to give the consumer the ability to save time and money and provide the easiest way to ship," Mitesh says. "We developed ZipShipit to put the power of shipping in the consumers' hands.
"ZipShipit gives the consumer the choice to select the carrier, speed, service quality and price that fits their needs."