3PL Expert Casey Armstrong from ShipBob

Episode 44

In this episode, we will be interviewing the Chief Marketing Officer of ShipBob Inc, Casey Amstrong. He is an expert in marketing, fulfillment, and eCommerce space as a whole. We will talk about ShipBob, an end-to-end fulfillment solution that brings the same 2-day shipping from Amazon to a wider array of businesses

Let’s dive right in and learn more about ShipBob and the current updates in fulfillment during the COVID-19 situation.

[00:01 – 06:59] Opening Segment

  • Casey shares the story about his broad background career experience in E-commerce 
  • Casey talks about ShipBob story, their mission, location, and how they were started

[07:00 – 14:34] Logistics and Cost-Involve 

  • Casey talks about the logistic of how ShipBob works
    • Integrated with all the major carriers and market places
  • Casey shares the understanding of the Cost-involve 
  • Casey shares about the process to get the details on the pricing etc.

[14:35 – 25:59] Locations and Warehouse Systems

  • Casey talks about the locations of ShipBob and the upcoming expanded locations
  • Casey shares about their warehouse systems and the two-day experience
  • Casey talks about the changes in eCommerce, fulfillment, spot check, and carriers during the COVID-19 situation 

[26:00 – 36:39] Q4 pricing and Packaging 

  • Casey talks about the custom packaging process of ShipBob
  • Casey shares about the Q4 and ShipBobs’ game plan in the increasing Volume 
  • ShipBob on returns handling process and how the spot-check goes 
  • Casey talks about the shipping discounts and freight partners 
  • ShipBob does not increase any Q4 pricing

[36:40 – 41:12] International shipping and warehouses 

  • Casey talks about the gameplans international shipping and warehouse locations of ShipBob
  • Lightning Round segment with Casey
    • Favorite book:
      • Sometimes a Great Notion – by Ken Kesey
      • The War of Art – by Steven Pressfield 
    • Hobbies: Going to the beach and other physical activities
    • Successful e-commerce entrepreneurs vs. people who give up: The persistence 
    • How to Connect with Casey – links below


Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Casey on Linkedin and Twitter. You can also send him an email to carmstrong@shipbob.com.

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David 0:00
I have to ask, Is there any good story about the name shipbob.

Casey 0:05
It’s an acronym for bend over backwards. And that sets a really quarter like the mission that we have as a company, which is its customer first.

David 0:15
This global pandemic is really changed the landscape of business.

Casey 0:20
I think that there’s just so much room for e commerce growth, even from what we’re seeing today in the US, the next 1020 years could be rather fruitful for those playing the long game on e commerce.

Ken 0:32
What is shipbob pricing on q4 in terms of storage and fulfillment,

Casey 0:37
so we don’t change our pricing depending on the season. The pricing good on January one is the pricing you have on December 31.

David 0:45
Welcome, everyone, to the firing the man podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you were capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income stream in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David Schomer, and Ken Wilson.

Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast on today’s episode, we interview Casey Armstrong, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at shipbob. Now, Ken, we are on the quest to find a 3PL service for both of our businesses. And I have to say we may have a new leader. One thing Casey talks about in this interview is q4 fees. And I’m not going to give it away now. But one thing that drives me nuts about Amazon is their storage fees go up by a factor of four in q4. And that is not the case with shipbob. What stood out to you during the interview.

Ken 1:46
Yeah, it was a great interview. And you’re right. You know, I was I was really impressed with shipbob. Casey represented well. A couple things that stood out to me was the rapid expansion. And they’re adding fulfillment centers at a record pace. Casey mentioned they’re adding, you know, up to 100 people a month are hiring for fulfillment centers to keep up with the demand. They’re going international and they are international, they’re expanding, and returns I was really impressed with the return process. The way case describes it and how it works it you’ll have to listen, but it’s really impressive.

David 2:23
If you are looking for a third party logistics company for your e commerce business, this is an episode you are not going to want to miss. Welcome, everyone to the firing demand podcast. On today’s episode, we interview Casey Armstrong, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at shipbob. shipbob is a tech enabled 3PL service that enables e commerce orders for direct to consumer brands. Their mission is to make you more successful online by providing best in class logistics. So your customers don’t go elsewhere. Casey, welcome to the show.

Casey 2:58
Thank you very much for having me.

David 3:00
Absolutely. So first things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Casey 3:04
Yeah, so my name is Casey Armstrong, as mentioned, I’m the CMO over here at shipbob. And to add a little bit of what what you covered, we really view ourselves I’d say in a more simple way, like providing that Amazon level fulfillment experience for direct to consumer brands. So if you want to own your customer data, Own your branding, have direct line to your three PL while still taking advantage of you know, the technology both within the warehouses and you know, in the merchant facing application to the distributed fulfillment center network that we have. So we have a facilities today in the US. We have one in Europe, we have one in Canada, we’re opening two more in the US, actually in October, which is shockingly, tomorrow, I think. And yeah, before joining shipbob, I was over at big commerce. And then before that, I was at a company called watch master where we were a direct to consumer luxury watch brand over in Europe and and then expanded over into the US.

David 4:03
Very nice, very nice. Looks like you’ve got a pretty broad background in E-commerce. So looking forward to the rest of this interview. So Casey, can you tell us a little bit about shipbob story, their mission, location history, how they were founded?

Casey 4:21
Yeah, so the the company was founded by Dhruv Saxena and Divey Gulati out in Chicago. And they actually had another startup that involved sending more snail mail techs, and they noticed that they were going to the post office all the time. And they noticed they were in waiting in long lines all the time. And then as they were seeing the same people in line all the time, like something is wrong here because we hate going to the post office. And so that’s that was really the catalyst for them to start shipbob which is hey, we will actually they would actually go to some of these you know the post office or ups. And that’s actually how they would win a lot of the initial customers, which is, you know, whatever. Hey, john, or Jane, we see you here all the time, what if we came and picked up your goods for you and shipped it on your behalf. And so they actually would go around and pick up items from people’s houses or their places of work, take it back to their quote, unquote, fulfillment center, which was Drew’s apartment for a while and actually ship those out. And so that was like the genesis of shipbob, which is pretty wild. Where Now again, we’ve got a global footprint of fulfillment centers, you know, our locations are hundreds of thousands of square feet. We’re working with thousands of brands and shipping millions of products every single month. And you know, it started by hustling in line at post offices.

David 5:47
Well, very nice. And I have to ask, Is there any good story about the name? shipbob?

Casey 5:53
So let’s see. That was a question that I had, when I joined. It’s probably like the last question I asked, you know, our CEO, Drew saksena, when, when I was interviewing, and I’ll give you at least the name that we share out there. And it’s really taking Bob and it’s It stands for, you know, an acronym for bend over backwards. And that sets a really quarter like the mission that we have as a as a company, which is its customer first. And, you know, we just announced a very large fundraising event earlier this week, we were fortunate to close a $68 million round from SoftBank, who I’m sure a lot of the listeners are familiar with. They’re behind companies like, like Uber, and Nvidia and a lot of the you know, slack and a lot of the most influential companies out there. But anyways, is the first question we often get is what we’re going to put all that money. And it’s just really going back to how can we better support and bend over backwards for our customers. And so it’s, you know, expanding fulfillment centers, adding into the technology, hiring more engineers. And so, you know, it’s really, of course, a core tenant of the business.

David 7:00
Now, let’s dive into the logistics of how shipbob works. So currently, all of my orders are fulfilled through Amazon fulfillment, through FBA. And if I were to sign on with shipbob, how would my orders be processed? Does it sync up with my amazon seller central account? Or would I need to manually enter orders? How does that work?

Casey 7:23
So we would connect with pretty much however you’re selling. And so we integrate with all the major carriers and marketplaces. And so let’s say you have a, let’s say, your DTC sites run by like a Shopify or bigcommerce, or WooCommerce or Wix, you know, we would automatically pull in data from that, you know, constantly, all day every day, if you’re also selling through Amazon, and Walmart, and eBay, the same thing. And so all of that would then pipe into shipbob, we would actually store your goods across our fulfillment centers, or you know, the fulfillment center of your choice. And then as those orders come in, of course, ship those out.

David 8:02
Now, when we’re evaluating three pls, we’re doing a cost benefit analysis. And so getting a good understanding of all the costs involved, is important to us. So can you go over all of the costs involved for a particular product,

Casey 8:19
that’s a great call out is trying to get like an apples to apples comparison between the you know, fulfillment partner that you’re deciding between. And I think even before you get to that point is understanding like what you need in your partner, because for a lot of e commerce brands, were a great solution. For some ecommerce brands, we’re not and I think that’s something that we really focus on as a business, as well as knowing internally like when we are not a good solution. So I’ll give some examples on that, if you are doing 90% of your business, b2b. And part of that b2b solution is you ship a lot of products, to you know, the thousands of gas stations and boutique grocery stores around the US like that’s not shipbob is not your is not going to be you know, the right solution for you. If you’re shipping grand pianos shipbob is not going to be the right solution for you, if you are shipping primarily direct to consumer, regardless of which channels they’re going through, and it doesn’t have to be just within the US we shipped all the countries around the world, you know, shipbob could be you know, great solution for you. And so again, it started with like, what do you need in a partner both on like their operational capabilities, and also their their footprint, so meaning their geographical footprint where they can actually ship on your behalf as well because that helps both with like cost savings and and time. And then from there to understanding, how did they charge you and so we try to simplify it as much as possible. And there’s just really three ways that we charge. One is on the receiving, which is all things considered pretty nominal. And we actually offer discounts for what we call which is called good behavior, meaning if you submit your information To us properly, you know, you will be billed less. And so that’s actually something to focus on real quick, especially with q4 coming up. And a lot of fulfillment centers not taking on new clients, or they’re being just completely slammed, or they have very limited inventory, or they have very limited storage, is, you know, the inbound shipments that you send to your fulfillment partners, understanding the information they need. And we’re in either doing it yourself or working with your manufacturer being as clear as possible on what these items are. Because if they’re receiving a lot of goods, they need to be able to store it as quickly and efficiently as possible. So again, receiving number two would be on the storage side. And so we charge based off of pallets, bins and shelves, spaces. And that’s monthly. And you know, it’s very, very transparent there. And then number two is what we call total fulfillment costs. So this is, you know, a bulk of the cost that a lot of brands will incur. And so here, I think it’s important to have asking, you know, going, but you know, scratching below the surface of understanding, like what your costs are, because sometimes when people are evaluating ship versus somebody else’s say, well, you’re charging me x, and this repeals gonna charge me Why, why is theirs cheaper, but what they’re all they’re really showing is this is what it’s going to cost. For the shipping label, what they’re not including is well, what is the pick? What is additional picks? What does it cost for the actual packaging? What does it cost maybe for different, like kidding, or other special requests, and once you add all that up, it can get expensive pretty quickly. And so for an example, at shipbob, because we know that our customers have on average, I think it’s 3.3 units per order, we actually give up to five picks for free to our customers. And so that’s baked into the cost as well. And then we also don’t charge for packaging as well.

David 11:55
For our listeners, if they’re interested in getting a solid number around fulfillment, what would be the process to get that ASIN level detail?

Casey 12:08
Yeah, so there’s really two paths. And so one is we actually offer a full self serve, plan, you can you can go to shipbob.com. And, and sign up and do it all yourself, you can ask you know, the product will ask you a handful of questions, understand more about your business, and you’ll be presented with some different pricing options. And then you can go from there. And we have hundreds of customers every single month that go through that self service option. And another option as well as you can you can work with the sales team and work with you know, a fulfillment specialist and they can go through understand your business more and help get you started that way as well.

David 12:45
Sounds good. Now does ship up process returns,

Casey 12:48
we do process returns and actually some of the call it to on like how you get started. So a question we get often is like, well, how fast can I get started? And honestly, the answer is it’s more dependent on on you, the merchant than us. We’ve had customers that do 30,000 plus shipments get started in less than two weeks. And why it’s because they actually realized that they didn’t want to do their own fulfillment logistics any longer. They were they were based in Denver, which is very close to some of our fulfillment centers. And so they were going through like the the tech onboarding process at the same time where they were moving all of their goods to two of our fulfillment centers. And so they got up and going really fast. If you are manufacturing overseas, and there’s a delay in getting things over here. You know, of course, that’s going to cause some delay in getting started. So again, it often depends on the merchant, and how quickly they’re they want to move and can move. On the return front. Yes, we do process returns as well. And so we have returns technology and American facing application as well. And then we also work with a lot of the major returns platforms out there like return Lee and loop returns and happy returns as well.

David 13:57
Very nice. And we’ll link to all of those in the show notes. And just a little bit of backstory on this question. I currently am processing all of my own returns, and M on a first name basis with the UPS guy. He shows up to my house every single day. And that is something I would really like to get off of my plate. And so that is a I was relieved to hear that answer. Cuz that’s not a service that all 3PL’s are offering right now.

Casey 14:23
The local ups person is like the the modern day like milkman. So there you go. Exactly.

David 14:32
Exactly.

Ken 14:33
Yeah, first name basis for sure. So Casey, this question is a kind of a two part question. Can you tell us where your fulfillment centers are located? And do you offer I know you said, the software is kind of integrates with multiple sales channels. Do you offer like a two day badging for say, Walmart or other sales channels, Shopify,

Casey 14:55
perfect. So I’ll enter both of those and actually throw in like another item as well. So fulfillment centers like I mentioned, we have 8 in the US, we’ve got to internationally next year, we plan on opening eight to 10, more fulfillment centers domestically and abroad as well. So we’ll probably double our fulfillment center count by the end of Vermont, we are today by the end of 2021. And so we have locations and see if I can rattle all these off. So California, we have two in Texas, we have two in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida. So those are the eight within the US. Again, we’re opening two more in October, another in Texas and another in the northeast. And then we have one in Ireland, and we have one over in Canada, something I will call it as well, which is something that that we think is extremely important as a company and for our merchants, and what’s allowed us to what we believe run a better operation and provide that value to our merchants is so not only with us to get the ship off technology, but it’s shipbob technology that powers all fulfillment centers. And why is that important? Well, as you distribute your inventory across multiple fulfillment centers, regardless of the location, you’re getting the same experience. And we’re doing the same things the same way across across all fulfillment centers. And so what often powers that fulfillment centers is what’s called a warehouse management system. And so some companies, especially with the distributed footprint, they’ll often tap into a bunch of different 3pls, that use disparate WMS’S or those warehouse management systems. So that means that they’re running their operations differently across all locations. And for us, it’s it’s just Paramount, it’s like, we would not do it any other way. The same technology has to power all of the fulfillment centers. And so the way that we receive inventory, the way that we stole inventory, the way that we pick and pack inventory, the way that we ship it out, the way that we track metrics across the entire supply chain and life cycle of of these orders, is the exact same across all locations. And why is that also important? Well, that allows us to make changes within the product of these benefits that we can then pass on to our customers. So we have things like our picking algorithms or batch pumping algorithms or the location of the goods, we’ve been able to drive massive efficiency gains by continuously tweaking these algorithms of which we’re pushing changes to production every single week. And that way, we can accelerate the not only our accuracy of picking and packing products, but also how quickly we can get them out, which then can allow us then to get them to the carriers much faster. On the badging question, that is some stuff that is going to be coming in 2021. And so with Amazon and Walmart, I’ll just say that there are complexities there, that will likely change in 2021 at a more broader level. And so I’ll kind of stay away from that. In regards to badging on, you know, Shopify, and big commerce, some of the other major platforms, and then also some up and coming marketplaces that is definitely coming in 2021.

Ken 17:58
Okay, so to circle back a little bit and digest that one. badging is coming in 2021, and 2021. And

Casey 18:06
sorry to interrupt actually something called there, we do have what we call today, express programs. And so that way, we will distribute and we will work with you. So we always before you start working with us, we’ll give you suggestions on where we with how we think you should distribute your inventory. At the end of the day, that’s up to you. Some people say, I just want one fulfillment center in the middle of us. And let’s roll or they’re like, Hey, I’m based in LA, I want a fulfillment center. That’s close enough for me to drive to even though with COVID, we don’t let people come to the fulfillment centers. But that’s their prerogative. And some people say, Hey, you guys are the experts. We want to listen to you. And we say, Okay, great, we think you should distribute across these three different fulfillment centers, as they can pick and choose. And then from there, we have our two day Express program, which that way, you know, you can, you can pass it on. And while that’s not a quote, unquote, badge, that can be part of the product listing page and the checkout experience on the checkout page that you can bubble up and highlight, which is you are offering this two day Express experience. And we see customers using that in their ads, we see customers using that and like a persistent nav at the top, whether they’re offering free two day across the board or free two days, they spend over a certain amount. We see that all the time.

Ken 19:19
Okay, excellent. So this is kind of an add on to that. Now. You mentioned distributed inventory. So let’s say I have a container coming in from China. Do I ship it to one fulfillment center, and then the software distributed out to the rest of fulfillment centers? Can I pick and choose you guys have a recommendation? And does that cost more to do that?

Casey 19:41
Currently, we recommend that customers have it split before it gets to your fulfillment centers. And so let’s say you’re shipping something to one of our Pennsylvania facilities and our California facility. You just have them ship it separately. We also do that because sometimes customers want specific skus only located in different in different locations, like for an example, there was an apparel company, actually like a baby apparel company. And they had these like, like shark plushies. Those sold great on the coasts, they sold essentially zero in, you know, middle America. And so you know, they wanted, they wanted items like that only located in certain fulfillment centers. Gotcha.

Ken 20:21
Yeah, if I had surfboards or something, I wouldn’t ship them to the Midwest, right?

Casey 20:27
Well, Austin likes to claim that they’re the stand up paddleboard capital of the world. And as a So Cal resident that also lived in Austin for a while, I would just smile and nod, but you know, people can claim whatever they’d like.

David 20:43
So, Casey, how long does it take you guys to ship a product once an order is placed?

Casey 20:50
Yeah. So this is another thing that I think is important to understand your needs as a business and the service level agreement that you would sign up with or the SLA with, with your fulfillment partner. And so at shipbob, what we have is a noon local time cutoff, that things will be shipped out that day. And that is something that we keep an extremely close eye on and hold all of our fulfillment centers very close to I know, with COVID, we actually had to, for a short period of time, extend that out for an additional day, and then bring that back in so that it was coming out same day. But that’s important to understand, because let’s take Amazon, for example, which no question is the gold standard for logistics across the world, on you know, last mile and e commerce. You know, a lot of people, myself included experienced very long delivery times, especially in March, April, May, June, even recently, I’ve seen some pretty interesting timeframes for delivery. And it wasn’t necessarily the carrier that was causing the delay, but it was the fulfillment centers. And so they were taking days or weeks to pick products that they may be deemed essential or non essential, then had to get those to the carriers. And so that’s something that’s very important to understand is, how long will it take your fulfillment center to pick and get the item to the carrier. And then the second part of that equation is the carrier and their speeds. And so that will depend on you know, the carrier and the carrier service that you’re using, we publish a lot of this data pretty openly@carriers.shipbob.com, if you want to check that out, where we’ve seen a pretty big spike once COVID hit across the carrier’s really across the board. About a month ago, we saw a lot of them getting back to or below their pre COVID levels. And then recently, we started to see that spike up a little bit. And I think that’s because a lot of a lot of brands are starting their Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales, or holiday sales early, especially for the non procrastinators. Unlike myself, I’ll probably still wait too long, and we’ll see what happens. But you know, carriers are starting to see another influx in demand. And it’s just like a data point there. We know from at least one of the carriers, they were seeing a million more shipments per day in the middle of summer. On top of what they saw during the holiday season last year, the holiday season, what we’ve seen often drives like 35 to 45% of all ecommerce volume throughout the entire year. And that’s just like within really like a two month timeframe. And so for for these and that’s something that all these carriers plan for well in advance. But to see this come out of nowhere, and to see, you know, above Black Friday, Cyber Monday type, you know, shipping demand, in the middle of summer, across the world has just been a fascinating thing to you know, have a front row seat to and watch.

David 23:50
Absolutely this, this global pandemic is really changed the landscape of business. And it’ll be interesting to see how much of this persists. Obviously, with Ken and I being involved in e commerce. We’re playing the long game here, and really, really think that a lot of people that start buying online are going to continue to buy online once things open up, but it’s speculative at this point. So yeah,

Casey 24:16
I think it’s just been a couple things. One is, like, it’s interesting to study a lot of how like China changed when SARS hit like in the early 2000s. And how just their e commerce penetration just skyrocketed. And you know, they had a much lower ecommerce penetration rate compared to the US in the early 2000s. And then pre COVID. You know, they were in the 30% range, and we were in like the mid teens. And now we’re let’s just say like the mid 20s or above depending on which data source you look at. And so I think that there’s just so much room for e commerce growth, even from what we’re seeing today in the US and a lot of that is not just let’s say ordering clothes online, but it’s groceries and stuff as well. And I think it will be fascinating to especially if some of the larger players in the e commerce space start sharing some of this data is how many first time buyers of e commerce are out there. And so it’s just these habits forming. And I’m sure you all are seeing this, you know, across some of the brands that you work with, which is people ordering online and being comfortable with that for the first time. And that might sound crazy to the listeners. And that might sound crazy to us. But there are a lot of people buying online for the first time. And then also when we think of when we say playing the long game, think of like the youth and younger people that are just buying things only online. And that’s just what they’re gonna assume is, is standard practice forever. And so as more people get lumped into that, versus the people that just buy sporadically online, you know, the next 10-20 years could be rather fruitful for those, you know, playing the long game on e commerce.

David 25:54
I second, everything that you just said. I’m glad we’re in agreement here. Moving on to the to the next question. I’m going to give you the question, and then a little bit of background. So the question is, how will the order be packed. And what I’m looking for here is most fulfillment houses, they’ll allow you to use branded packaging, but some won’t. Some fulfillment centers may allow you to include marketing inserts, in some won’t some fulfillment houses will put on the Amazon barcode for you some won’t. So can you can you go through that, and address those points?

Casey 26:31
Yeah. So we allow we have our standard packaging, which I mentioned, we include for free, if you want to have your own custom packaging, you can do that as well. That’s not black and white, there are nuances within there. And I think that’s important for brands to think through. And so if it’s just like a standard box, maybe what we will consider that is it’s, it’s just another pick. And again, you get up to five picks for free again, depends on the phone provider you’re working with. But it’s okay, here’s the box, and we pick it and then we pack it and it’s good to go. If you have and we’ve seen this, especially with like it’s a newer sellers, if you have some like crazy intricate box that requires like 27 folds, and then you’re putting the product in there. And then you want some like crinkle paper, like sprinkled on top of like some perfume spray, like, you know, we’re not going to do that. We do do kitting projects, we do do custom work. But there’s a line that, you know, that gets drawn. And we do work with customers on thinking through that because oftentimes they don’t realize the additional cost of Bell incurred no matter who they work with, or the time that fell incur if they do it themselves. Also, it’s something important to think through is like, the way that we price shipping, it’s what’s called dimensional weight, and then the shipping zone. So shipping zones is essentially how far you’re shipping it dimensional weights important, because that involves the size and also the weight of the goods. And so you need to think through that with your packaging. And so if you’re using some, you know, extremely thick cardboard, custom packaging the adds, you know, another, you know, half a pound or a couple ounces, and it pushes you over to the next like pricing threshold of your goods that could be cents or dollars for every single order that is eating into your margin. And so that’s just something to think there as well. And then from your your ask on like custom inserts, the you know, the world is your oyster, include whatever you want. So you know, it’s it’s your business, we’re here to support it. I know some people don’t allow custom inserts or, or marketing material, but you can include whatever you’d like.

Ken 28:42
Now, Casey, you did touch on earlier, you know, with the pandemic and increased e commerce volumes, you know, worldwide. Now, with q4 coming up, do you guys have a game plan like on increase volumes and and how to deal with that and the fulfillment centers?

Casey 29:02
Yeah, so we’ve been hiring nonstop since pretty much April, we start our hiring for peak season always rather early. It started a lot earlier this year. So we know we’ve been trying to hire 100 plus associates across our network every single month. And so we’re definitely staffing up on that and just, you know, keeping very close line of communication with all the major carriers and continuing to open up local carriers in different markets as well to try to offload as much that we can at times or when need be from major carriers. And why that’s important as well as sometimes there’s cost savings and performance level improvements by using some of the local carriers. So that’s something we’re thinking through and then and then also, as we continue to, as we’re seeing just such an influx in inventory coming into our fulfillment centers, that’s why we’re opening up additional locations because I know You know, certain 3PL’s are setting pretty hard limits on the inventory that you can actually ship in there. And so that’s something that’s very important for if you’re not doing if you’re not talking to your fulfillment partner today, then I would pick up the phone like right now and just understand if they’re going to be setting inventory level limits, because, you know, we’ve heard some pretty, some pretty crazy stories of people shipping, you know, vast quantities and then getting turned away when it’s like literally at the 3PL docking doors, which is not the most enjoyable experience. And so I’m sure you guys have some some examples that you’ve heard as well. But it’s just important to understand that in what your 3PL can can take.

David 30:43
Now, I would like to circle back on the returns. And one thing I’ve learned from processing my own returns is that not all returns are created equal, you’ve got one camp of people that they receive it, it’s not what they want, they send it right back, the packaging is intact. And that is easy to put a new barcode on it and send it back into the fulfillment centers. There are also people that will use your product for 30 days, 60 days, and then decide that they don’t need it anymore. And then utilize the the free returns on Amazon, and then they’ll send it back. And when I’m processing my returns, I it requires a degree of judgment, is this something that can go back into my new inventory? And so how would that be handled at ship up?

Casey 31:35
That that’s honestly more like a case by case basis that, you know, we have our general terms, which can be found online on how we handle the returns. If you’re especially for the larger merchants, or if you have like more complex needs, you would work with your account manager on identifying those because I don’t know, let’s just say like here, like what I’m holding, which people can’t see like a black iPhone case, and I pull it out, and I look at it and I don’t really like and I ship it back. Like that’s an easy thing to do a quick spot check if it’s clothing, and it’s like noticeably worn, or if the the e commerce seller wants things like ironed or dry, cleaned and hung back up. That’s their right and prerogative because some people want that we don’t do that. But you know, we will we will spot check the returns, depending on you know, what, what we work through with with the merchant. But yeah, again, it’s returns as a whole. You could talk for hours on returns, and how to manage that best. And if you should even allow people to have returns or if you should just give them let them keep the products and give them the money back. And so you know, there’s a lot of people in both camps. I’m sure you guys have your your views. And some lessons learned from from managing that yourself as well.

David 32:54
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that is reasonable, is not not ironing and dry cleaning. Any used items that that makes sense. So moving on to the next question, shipping discounts, does shipbob partner with with any carriers and offer shipping discounts, one for inbound inventory from the manufacturer, and then two from the fulfillment center to the end customer.

Casey 33:22
So we have freight partners that we refer customers to at times, and they need help, or freight brokers, and they can help you with that where where we get involved is really once things hit our fulfillment centers. And so again, we’re happy to introduce you to the people that we think can provide you the best, the best experience and hopefully save you as much money as possible. But that’s not you know, our core business by working with a company like us, and the volume that we see across all the major carriers that allows us to get a much larger discount, then an individual retailer would get through, you know, through the carriers. And then that is the cost savings that we pass on. And so we do provide discounts for merchants based up it’s often volume based, so the more you ship, we can provide discounts there. Also, if you work with us on like the levels of complexity and how you’re shipping things out, we actually have a lot of room for just pricing discounts that we can offer there. And so for example, the spy phone again, if you’re shipping primarily a handful of iPhone cases every single month, and the white in the black and the red are shipping like crazy. You know, there are ways that we can work with you to definitely pass some some cost savings there. And then again, that’s also working through the the locations that we’d be shipping out to.

Ken 34:44
co so Casey now we’ve covered the shipping fees and quite a bit of the fulfillment fees. Now what about q4 fees, so I know for Amazon, they usually I think it’s like triple it’s a pretty big increase what ship. Bob’s pricing on q4 is it four isn’t in terms of storage and fulfillment.

Casey 35:05
So we don’t change our pricing, depending on the season. And so I know that there are 3PL’s that have an increase storage fee in q4. I’ve also seen a lot of three pills rolling out what we’ll call like a COVID surcharge, even on the shipping costs during q4, which starts tomorrow for those those of you listening later, we’re not increasing costs on any of that this year, we do have a slight increase in shipping costs as the carriers increase. And so we’re going to be eating part of that, so that all of our merchants don’t have to take on the entire increase in surcharge. But we’re not adding like an additional surcharge on top, which is you know, what, what others might be doing. And so we just try to keep it you know, what, what the pricing get on January one is the pricing you have on December 31.

David 36:01
That is huge. One thing as we enter q4, that drives me nuts about Amazon is, is their storage fees go up by a factor of four. And it is just refreshing to hear a constant price throughout throughout the year.

Casey 36:15
Yeah, I mean, that’s when sellers need you the most. They’re their businesses really make for the most part, except for seasonal businesses. It’s make or break during the fourth quarter. And so, of course supply demand, you know, we’re not going to get into like a economics conversation here. But like, that’s why Amazon can increase their rates as do others. But that’s when they need you the most. And so it goes back to that bend over backwards thing, it’s, you know, let’s just keep flat rate through the year.

David 36:42
Now, at the beginning of the call, you had mentioned that you do have some international warehouses? Where are those? And what is the game plan for rolling out more international fulfillment centers. So we

Casey 36:56
have a location in the east coast of Canada, and we have a location in Ireland. And so what we continue to look at all the time is where the end consumer, or the end customer for our merchants, and then once that demand hits a certain level, or, you know, well before that demand hits a certain level, how can we start making sure that we have a fulfillment center in that location. And so some of the other areas that we’re actively looking at is, you know, Europe and Central Europe, we’re looking at different areas through the APAC, you know, various locations within Asia, also the east coast of Australia, we’re looking at potentially west coast of Canada. So we’ll we’ll definitely be active and looking at how we expand from there. But as does everything that we do, it really comes down to just customer data and their customers data.

Ken 37:50
So Casey, at the end of every interview, we like to do a lightning round, ask a few questions are really hard. Are you ready?

Casey 37:58
I think so.

Ken 38:00
What is your favorite book,

Casey 38:02
my favorite book would be I like to read a lot of when I can a lot of fiction. Even though kids in COVID have been eating into that stay one of the most well written books that I’ve ever read is sometimes a great notion by Ken Kesey. So that’s one of my favorite. I’d say the War of Art by Steven pressfield is one of my favorite books just from like, I don’t even know if I’d call it a business book. But essentially, the premise of that is, every day everybody wakes up with like, just doubt and fear, like staring them in the face. And your job is to like punch him or her right in the face and break through that and crush the resistance. And so I’d say I’ll call those two books out.

Ken 38:47
Nice. Yeah, I love the War of Art. That’s great. What are your hobbies Casey?

Casey 38:52
So definitely chasing the kids around. I tried to go to the beach as much as possible. And if not the beach, then the pool but just you know, be outside be in the water. And then you know, play play basketball and volleyball as as much as I can as well.

Ken 39:08
Nice. That’s awesome. Okay, last one. Now, what do you think sets apart successful ecommerce entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started?

Casey 39:17
I think you answered it in the question. And that’s just the the persistence, like you’re not gonna, you’re not going to get it right the first time. Nobody does. I mean, you heard the origin story of ShipBob. And you know, now we’re shipping out millions of items a month. It was it was two guys that were having struggles with their own e commerce business. And were literally poaching people from post offices and then getting banned from those post offices because they were kind of stealing their business. And it’s just it’s that, you know, belief in yourself and that persistence, so I’d say that.

David 39:52
Excellent. Excellent. Thank you for being on the firing man podcast. Where can people get ahold of you?

Casey 39:59
Yeah. Come check us out www.ShipBob.com happy to help if we’re not the right fit, happy to refer you elsewhere, email me see armstrong@ShipBob.com.com or hanging out in the twittersphere @CaseyA

David 40:10
awesome. Sounds great. Thank you, Casey. Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s Firing The Man Podcast. If you like this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive firing demand discounts on popular e commerce subscription services that is www.firingtheman.com/resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at Firing The Man on YouTube at Firing The Man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer and Ken Wilson. We’re out

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