Shipwire helps startup scale logistics quickly

A successful Kickstarter campaign sent demand for Supr Good's Slim wallet soaring. It coped by integrating a cloud inventory and logistics service with its Shopify e-commerce system.

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How can an entrepreneur handle demand when his or her startup is so successful with potential customers that it blows way past initial order expectations? That was the dilemma faced by Supr Good, designer of a super Slim wallet (pictured above), which almost doubled its orders to 10,000 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

While the company's founders, brothers Erik and Aaron Melander, shipped out the first deliveries themselves manually, they weren't prepared for handling this task on such a large scale -- let alone to international locations -- quite so early in their design studio's start-up phase. So they quickly turned to a service used by some of their peers, logistics and shipping company Shipwire. "It gives us the ability to give our customers the same fulfillment as a larger company," said Aaron Melander, who manages the branding and design processes at the company.

In a nutshell, Shipwire provides a service that integrates with a small or midsize company's e-commerce systems (in Supr Good's case, the service is integrated with Shopify) to manage product shipping and delivery functions. Approximately 65 percent of Supr Good's orders are domestic to the United States, while the rest are spread between close to 80 countries. Managing shipping regulations and such for all that international business was an overwhelming proposition for the co-founders. What's more, they realized that managing this process seamlessly in the early days of Supr Good's existence was integral to its long-term success. They couldn't afford to mess up.

"What we've been finding is that customers expect immediacy, and it is almost more important for them to know where something is," said Erik Melander, co-founder of the company. "You can't decouple the shipping experience from the overall buying experience."

Another important consideration was the fact that the Melanders are running their company from different locations; Shipwire helps both brothers stay on top of inventory levels and logistics reports, and manage accordingly.

Shipwire's pricing is pretty transparent: you can run scenarios off its Web site. What you pay per order will vary depending on the number of orders you fill per month, how many product SKUs your company sells, their size, the location of the warehouses you'd like to store inventory, and so forth.

For example, the storage and handling fees to support one small SKU, stored and shipped from two locations, with two pallets of inventory on stand-by, would be $64.95 per month. (There isn't a public calculator yet for the shipping costs, which are extra, but you can get estimates by creating a free account.)

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