Shippo, a platform that makes it easier for ecommerce companies to integrate shipping into their services, has raised $30 million in a series C round of funding led by D1 Capital Partners, with participation from Union Square Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Uncork Capital, and Version One.
Founded in 2013, San Francisco-based Shippo gives online sellers access to various shipping tools, including the ability to automatically generate shipping labels for all the major carriers, including UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS, with the added ability to compare rates across all the delivery providers. The integration also allows sellers to schedule pickups and returns, validate addresses, and offer post-purchase tracking so their own customers can see where their items are on their journey.
Shippo also integrates with many of the big-name ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, such as Shopify, Wix, Square, eBay, and Amazon. This means that someone who runs a small business on Shopify, for example, can import all their online orders from Shopify into Shippo to create labels without any manual input, see the best rates at that time from the available carriers, and email tracking numbers to customers. It’s ultimately designed to give smaller businesses a leg-up in the ecommerce world and compete more effectively with bigger players that have the resources to build their own shipping infrastructure. As Shippo cofounder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu says, her company is setting out to make shipping “as easy as sending a text message.”
“Shipping shouldn’t be seen as a cost center — it’s a growth engine,” she said. “When used properly, shipping is a tool for businesses to gain consumer confidence, increase conversions, and drive repeat buying by building loyalty. Except many of these benefits have historically been reserved for the savviest and most resource-rich businesses. Shippo is changing that dynamic.”
Prior to now, Shippo had raised $29 million, including its $20 million series B from three years ago, and with another $30 million in the bank it’s well-positioned to chase a larger slice of the $3.5 trillion global ecommerce market.
Alongside its funding announcement, Shippo also revealed that it has hired Automattic’s chief business officer Catherine Stewart, who left WordPress.com’s parent company after nearly six years to serve as Shippo’s chief operating officer. Automattic also operates a popular ecommerce plugin for WordPress websites called WooCommerce, which Shippo already integrates with.
“The accessibility of store platforms, payment processing, and digital marketing has made it easier than ever for brands and entrepreneurs to build a successful business online,” Stewart said. “Shipping has been slower to adapt, though, with cumbersome and often outdated technology. For many small and mid-sized businesses, shipping goods to customers is still expensive and time-consuming.”
Ecommerce represents just 10% of retail globally, which leaves much room for companies to increase their sales through online channels. And with the world currently in the midst of a major pandemic that has left billions of people confined to their homes, now could be a good time for businesses to grow their presence on the internet. Indeed, while many companies are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 outbreak, others are struggling to keep up with demand, be that remote working tools or booze delivery services — and this spike in demand is something that is benefiting Shippo too.
“With so many people sheltering at home during this crisis, and so many traditional businesses being severely impacted and in some cases totally halted, we’re seeing more interest and volume in ecommerce,” Behrens Wu told VentureBeat. “We see both traditional retail businesses making a push to move online and entrepreneurs using this time to start online businesses.”
Since the middle of March, which is when the first official shelter-in-place order took effect in the U.S., Shippo said it has seen a 20% increase in new sign-up volume. This is an important trend, because it’s not simply existing customers increasing their orders to keep up with demand, it’s businesses seeking inroads into ecommerce — the coronavirus could be escalating brick-and-mortar retailers’ shift to online.
“Anecdotally, in the past few weeks our customer service and sales teams have noted that they are having significantly more conversations with traditional, offline retailers that are trying to move online,” Behrens Wu added.
To help capitalize on this uptick in interest, Shippo has started waiving its software fees for smaller businesses, for both new signups and existing SMB customers. Moreover, Shippo’s staff are also holding virtual “service hours” for businesses just starting off online, where they field questions about ecommerce and shipping.
“It’s our small way of giving back, by giving our customers one less thing to worry about so they can focus on what’s important,” Behrens Wu said.