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[其他] Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

数学不好万岁。 发表于 2016-10-6 01:05:18
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What is Shippo?

  Shippo is an API that allows you to connect to multiple shipping carriers from one place to compare shipping rates, buy labels, and track packages. We power shipping for businesses.
  Shipping is really hard. There are thousands of carriers around the world, each offering a variety of service levels. Shipping costs are also based on 5–6 different factors. Especially with companies like Amazon priming shoppers to expect fast and free shipping, businesses struggle to get products to their customers.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
       Our goal is to be Stripe for shipping. We provide the lego pieces for any developer to build their shipping backend.
  Shippo started off as an API but it was hard to acquire customers to start with, so we built our own app and dashboard on platforms like Shopify and Magento for smaller merchants. We built up the API as we expanded our app and started gaining traction with developers again. So now we’re very focused on providing the right developer experience.
  What are some use cases for the API?

  If you have an e-commerce store or a marketplace that sells physical goods, you don’t want to go through connecting with USPS or FedEx individually. It’s time consuming to integrate into each carrier individually and each one requires going through a certification process. Instead, you can use Shippo and integrate our API. We have simple endpoints for address validation, managing orders, or tracking packages. You can piece together these endpoints depending on what you need.
  The focus for Shippo is for any developer to be able to ship things without really getting into the nitty gritty of shipping. They don’t need to know about different carriers, their service levels, their tracking number formats, how to get rates, what “zones” are, etc. We abstract all the shipping stuff into just a few basic API calls.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
          Source:    My Subscription Addiction        For instance, VNYL uses us for shipping. They are a subscription service that sends a surprise set of records every month. After VNYL gets shipping labels from Shippo, they hook up each order with our webhooks to receive tracking notifications. When they see that the records have been delivered, they add those albums to the customer’s Spotify playlist.
  We also power a lot of order management platforms. These services help merchants organize their business online. They keep track of orders and inventory, but shipping is not one of their core competencies. They leverage our API to offer shipping as part of dealing with orders and become a lot more feature complete.
  Another category is website builders. We power GoDaddy and Weebly’s shipping. A huge percentage of their websites are e-commerce stores. Those sellers can log into their account and print off shipping labels for their orders.
  How do you make money?

  This model is very easy — we charge 5 cents per label. Depending on the carrier, we either provide a master account with negotiated rates or you can plug in your account information. Either option is 5 cents per label.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
       At what scale is the API?

  We ship a couple million packages every month and we’ve shipped to every country in the world. This is with a team of around 28.
  We have over 10,000 active businesses using Shippo and our customer base actually varies pretty widely. Some customers make shipments directly from the dashboard or using a CSV upload. The next step is installing our Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento apps. These are geared towards SMBs who don’t have a development team. The most advanced customers integrate the API directly into their product.
  What are a couple other customers you’d like to highlight?

   Another interesting one is Mercari . They are a big peer-to-peer marketplace in Japan that’s valued at over a billion dollars. We power their U.S. shipping. They offer a mobile app, but they’re not the merchants. If you sell a shirt or a pair of earrings in the marketplace, they use Shippo to calculate the costs from the weight and address and email you a shipping label.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
        There’s also a sneaker marketplace called GOAT . Their value proposition is that they authenticate the goods that are sold in the marketplace, so they have a dual shipping process. If you sell sneakers, you actually ship them to their warehouse where they inspect and verify the product. After that, they send the shoes to the buyer. They need to be able to track both shipping steps and manage the whole process with a few of our APIs.
  There are definitely real-time scenarios we can’t control, but we can expose data through the API to help our customers. With GOAT, pick-up and drop-off time is very important because they have employees who need to verify the sneakers. Our goal is to predict something like “if you use USPS for this shipment, then it’ll arrive around 10:30 that morning.” We ship so much volume, we can make estimates based on the carrier, route, and time of year. These are the interesting real-world problems we’re trying to solve.
  What’s your onboarding process like?

   We don’t have a sales team focused on developers, but it’s about building developer trust in our product and helping them adopt it quickly. It’s all about having the the right libraries or sample project tutorials to make it really easy for developers who need shipping in their applications to use Shippo versus anybody else.
  Onboarding is all about making it easy for developers to add shipping without needing their own shipping expert. The most important thing is terrific documentation. To a developer, they might change a single attribute (e.g. outbound or return label), but that maps to something very different in the real-world. Those differences are what we sort out during onboarding. We act as shipping consultants, or even the entire ops team, for a merchant during this process.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
       Sometimes there’s a gap in expectations about how carriers operate. We get a lot of questions and problems during that initial onboarding process. Once people are up and running, they don’t bump into too many mistakes via the API.
  Merchants typically ask a lot of questions because everybody’s business is just slightly different. For example, with something like perishables, it can’t be overnighted on Friday because it’ll be stuck in a warehouse over the weekend. We need to do that type of education up front.
  We have dedicated shipping experts on-call for support. Carriers are also partners for us. We don’t compete with their business and we’ll often times loop in a carrier representative to help with a specific setup. All the carriers, including USPS, FedEx, and UPS, provide on-the-ground people for support in different markets.
  What are some of the other marketing efforts to help grow the business?

  We focus most of our efforts on developer requirements, not on traditional marketing. We’re always working on better documentation and reference guides for developers. We invest heavily into API clients for all the popular languages and frameworks. From a brand standpoint, that’s what sets us apart.
  Developers don’t buy based on the price or an extra feature. What’s my implementation time? How do I get help if it’s not working? What boilerplate do I need to write to get started? We’re not selling anybody on Shippo. We work to instill trust in our solution with the right answers to these questions.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
        A simple example is sharing Shippo’s API down time and response time on our StatusPage . You won’t see that care or transparency from a shipping company that isn’t API-first. We focus on little things that matter more than white papers or fancy videos or hoodies. Haha, actually we still do hoodies :P
  What are some app ideas you’d like people to build using your API?

  I think there’s a lack of apps for merchants. Shipping is interesting because it’s the only real datapoint you have after someone clicks buy.
  For example, rating sellers. On eBay or Amazon, sellers are rated based on how quickly they send off shipments, if they have a valid tracking number, and if the package is actually there on time. For any other marketplace, that rating system is built from scratch or they just don’t have it. You could create a programmatic seller rating using our API.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
          Source:    The Epoch Times       Customer support is another area. For an e-commerce store, shipping questions are often the most common. You can imagine a support tool focused on e-commerce that includes our tracking API. It could even automatically notify buyers when a package is delivered or give them a heads up that it will be late. Right now, buyers only get that info if they actively check their tracking number.
  Someone also needs to build a tool to help sellers optimize shipping tiers and prices. For example, should I offer ground, expedited, or overnight? How much should I charge for it? You could build an app on top of the Shippo API that recommends the right price points after a few shipments. It could even dynamically set the price based on the expected delivery date. The buyer could drag a slider to set the number of days and this service would provide the best price based on the different shipping providers.
  Finally, there are a lot of ideas related to sizing different packages. You could help improve the packaging design process. When creating a product, a designer might think of making sure it’s 20” by 20” by 20”, but maybe there’s a way better pricing tier if it’s only 18” high. Another idea is to build an augmented reality app that lets you snap a photo of an item and it will tell you the best box to ship it in. This could help merchants send the right kind of return shipping labels.
  What are some of the complexities with an API that interacts with the real-world?

  It’s difficult because the API has to match the real-life interactions. This is different than something like Twilio where you basically know what’s expected to send an SMS or make a phone call. You don’t worry about different carriers or service levels and the API can hide that. With shipping, we need to expose the different services (e.g. first-class or parcel) and details like whether returns are needed or if it’s shipping internationally and there are customs forms. That’s the added level of sophistication we need to help our developers understand.
       How Twilio’s distributed team solves developer evangelism
  This edition, I spoke with Matt Makai, Developer Evangelist at Twilio. We dive into launching APIs and scaling dev… getputpost.co
     One good example is dealing with different currencies. Online marketplaces need to report shipping prices consistently to the seller and the buyer no matter where they are in the world. We use sane defaults, but also make sure you can set a parameter to get the correct currency (e.g. just for the buyer’s return shipment).
   We need to consider if a carrier has an outage, either with their website or with real deliveries. We have a local engine to generate rates even if the partner is offline. There are about 500,000 possible shipping combinations between all postal codes in the US, and we need to provide an accurate price between any two. There are also the parameters of size and weight. Our engine has to be super fast and give you the right price.
  With some providers, we can even generate labels if they’re offline. That’s really important for our warehouse customers because they’re constantly printing labels and don’t want to have hours of downtime because a particular shipping website is down.
  How do you approach writing blog posts?

  When you say “shipping” to a developer, it doesn’t really elicit a response. If somebody can see what we’re working on internally, the problem becomes a lot more interesting. We want to tell the stories behind the problems we’re solving, like the offline ratings engine.
  When we have a big new release or feature, we’ll chat with the developers about some of the most difficult parts. Actually, we try to setup an interview like this to hear the full story and pull out the best nuggets. We’ll write a draft and show it to the developer for edits and any code snippets.
  What’s your relationship with USPS?

  We are a certified provider with USPS.

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API

Apps that send packages with the Shippo API
       There’s a good history lesson here. Two decades ago, USPS opened up an API to just three companies: Stamps.com, Endicia, and Pitney Bowes. If you wanted to buy a USPS label online, it came from one of those three vendors. This got even worse because Stamps.com bought Endicia and then it was down to only two certified vendors. We took advantage of the opportunity and we’re the first new certified provider in almost 20 years.
  What’s your tech stack?

   The backend is Python with Django and a Postgres database. The frontend is Ember. Also, we recently migrated from Heroku to AWS. [More details on StackShare .]

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