We have amazing customers who sell great products, and we love to spotlight them in our blog. This month’s spotlight is blipshift.
Joe Oh, Sebastian Ruta and Hay-Won Byun, Founders
How did you choose to go into the “a t-shirt a day” business?
After many years of going to bars wearing less than awesome promotional car-themed tees, we realized that perhaps neon colors on an oversized shirt wasn’t helping our mingling potential. There are a number of companies offering crowdsourced t-shirt designs on a limited basis, but nothing for car guys like us. We figured it was about time that auto enthusiasts got a chance to get some fresh and witty apparel. We’re also super psyched to be giving artists from around the world another avenue to share their work. Collectively, we have experience in tech, fashion and manufacturing so we were able to get moving pretty quickly. We keep things pretty casual over here and make sure to have a good time doing what we’re doing. That is unless you show up to work not wearing your blipshift tee… in that case you start your day with three sets of push-ups.
On that note, what made you decide that the automotive puns would be your niche?
Despite what our better halves think, “car guy” isn’t just one type of dude (or dudette). There is a huge amount of diversity in this niche, if you can call it that – we think of it as massive interest group. We like hanging out with other car guys and gals, talking about all things auto and of course, telling stories. This is what gives us and artist contributors inspiration for design sweetness that car guys “get”. If you want a sci-fi or pop culture t-shirt, there are plenty of places online you can find one. But if you want a riff on the latest racing news or car blog meme there’s only one, blipshift.
How has ShipStation helped you with your business?
As a small business, we need to be growing the company, not spending hours optimizing shipping costs or standing in line. We knew early on that our focus needed be on creating awesome products, keeping customers happy and developing our brand. Dealing with order fulfillment and the post office can be pretty painful. It’s a thankless job that can take a bunch of time. We also don’t want to spend time building infrastructure where great tools already exist. ShipStation was super easy to setup and integrated with our e-commerce platform. Because it’s in the cloud, we’ve got a ton of flexibility on how we manage shipments and labels. Batching up a large number of orders is really simple and the ShipStation interface helps to reduce knucklehead errors. It definitely feels good to know that ShipStation provides reliable service and a big feature set that is able to scale as our business grows.
What’s your favorite ShipStation feature?
Reports. We don’t just gobble up numbers and specs from the latest Porsche review. We’re suckers for metrics and any piece of data that provides us with more visibility on our business. The ShipStation reports are really great at giving us a quick view on our operations and fulfillment costs. ShipStation also makes it really easy for us to cross reference orders for customer support cases. When you’ve got a loyal following with customers ordering 5, 10 or even 20 times, it’s important for us to have visibility and easy access to the shipping history. By the way, does the sound of a team of label printers running in the background count as a feature? ‘cuz that’s awesome too.
If you or someone you know (even if it’s just a neighbor) who loves his or her cars, go to blipshift and get something nice! Remember, each design has a limited life cycle, so get them before they’re gone!
Want to be featured in our customer spotlight? Let us know!
As most of you know, ShipStation has been limited to US-based e-retailers since we launched our app a year and a half ago. Well, now you can tell all your Canadian friends about us, because we just released our integration with Canada Post!
If you are one of those companies that want to use our platform, just like you always have been, just keep on truckin’, this integration doesn’t change anything for you. If you’re one of those that can call their company multi-national since you happen to have warehouses in Canada and want to take advantage of shipping via Canada Post: listen up. Because of many, many technical restrictions on this side, you’ll have to sign up for a new ShipStation account—with Canada set as your home country—to be able to use Canada Post. However, you don’t necessarily have to have the same plan as you do with your existing account. Because of the way this works, you could have a Gold account for your US-based shipments and a Bronze account for your Canadian-based shipments. Just remember you will have to sign into each account separately.
Using this new integration, shipments that originate from Canada can be easily sent using our time-saving application to manage orders from over 40 marketplaces and shopping platforms like eBay, Amazon, Magento, and Shopify. You can define automation rules, filters, and profiles to make the copy-and-paste, cut out with scissor procedures you might use today look like the Stone Age of order and shipment processing. All you need to do to sign up with us and see just how amazing your life could be.
Please note that you do have to have a Canada Post account with commercial (contact) rates to attach your account with ShipStation. All you have to do, though, is call them at 1-866-282-7173 to obtain them. From everything we’ve heard over here, it’s a relatively painless and quick process, and you’ll get better rates than if you were to pay via a credit card.
I’m a computer kid. As I could get my hands on the machines, I did. And I learned things. I was one of those kids who eventually taught their parents how to use computers even though they were both in IT (my mother actually teaches “computers”) because I couldn’t put the damn things down. And this all helped me. Especially in school. I wrote essays a heck of a lot faster than most other kids because I taught myself typing from a silly little ghost game.
While I won’t go into a whole diatribe of my history, I will give you this example of how I ended up using Excel: I calculated my GPA in college with it. I wrote if/then statements, so that I could put in the credit hours of each class and the letter grade (pluses & minuses included) and it would spit out my semester and overall GPA. I could even mark which ones were directly attached to my major so that I could find that metric, as well.
I organized data with my course selections and budgets from allowances so I could purchase more video games and systems. I calculated how much I had to score on the next test to get a certain overall grade. So, I grew up with a natural appreciation for Excel and some of the awesome things it could do.
A couple weeks ago, we posted about using PivotTables to help you manipulate your data and help extrapolate meaning from the reports you can get from ShipStation. And it got me thinking. And then it got me playing around with Excel 2013. (You know, you wouldn’t think that Excel would be one of those things that you have to have the new version of, but I have to say this one’s really, really spiffy.)
You know all those fancy infographics we see nowadays? That’s Excel. No, really. Beneath all the Photoshop prettiness, it’s a bunch of number-crunching and figuring out which data is valuable. Knowing that 49% of people value free shipping as a purchase decision didn’t just come up from thin air. It was gathered and then compiled within (probably) Excel. And that bar graph at the top? Easiest program to make those in? Excel.
Microsoft seems to know of this trend, so there’s all sorts of new templates you can just download and input your information. Want a calendar for all of your employees and their absences? Done. Or a way to track the collection of money (sorting by people or method of payment)? They have that, too. There’s thousands of these available.
It goes back to what you want to show. If you’re growing, a stacked line graph (like the one you see in your ShipStation dashboard) can be a great reminder of where you started and see where you’re going. If you have a regional or seasonal business, pie charts are fantastic for seeing which of your sections is the most valuable to you. Now that you’re a little bit more aware of how PivotTables work, Excel even has PivotCharts that show you the same data in graphical form. So, theoretically you could create your own infographic of how your business is doing.
So here’s what I propose: go play with it. Download your raw data from ShipStation, follow our PivotTables tutorial, and start playing. You’ll find out trends about your business that you may not have known. Or reinforce ideas that you may have had, but not able to back up. Either way, you’ll be knowledgeable about your business, and that’s worth a few minutes of your time.
Last week, the Austin Business Journal announced the finalists for their Best Places to Work 2013… and we’re one of them! If you don’t know how it works, here’s the scoop: a survey goes out to all the employees of a company, and they answer questions about the culture, team atmosphere, and benefits. Then, depending on the answers, the company is chosen as a finalist and then based on how many employees that company has, it’s placed into a category.
I can’t tell you how much I personally enjoy working for ShipStation, so it’s no wonder to me that we’re a finalist. With all the fun events that we have in-house, like our weekly lunch meetings (no, really, they are actually fun), in addition to the outside events like The Color Run this past Saturday, this really is a fantastic place to work.
We’re eagerly looking forward to June 6th, where the ABJ will announce the winners. Keep your fingers crossed for us, and if you happen to be in the Austin area, we’re always hiring!
In ShipStation, we give you the ability to export your data into CSVs, a format that can be read by a number of different programs, but most notably, Microsoft Excel. Some of you may have heard of a feature in Excel called PivotTables. Simply put, PivotTables are awesome. Yes, they are a little difficult to wrap your head around when you first look at them, but they can be incredibly powerful.
For this post, we’ll go over a specific example so that you can see how these things work. Let’s say that we want to find out what our Quarter 1 sales were for all of our stores. We’ll be using Excel 2013 for this example, so if you have a different version or are on a Mac, your menu options may be in a slightly different place.
First, let’s go into ShipStation and download the “Orders Shipped – Data Export” report. So, after clicking on Reports in the top menu, highlight the appropriate line and choose the date range for the first quarter: 1/1 – 3/31.
Download the file and open it in Excel. Now, for a bit of terminology. The file you have open is called a Workbook. There are individual “sheets” (aptly called worksheets) much like individual sheets in a notebook that can contain their own information.
At the top of the screen, click the Insert tab, and then choose PivotTable. (If you’re on a Mac, PivotTables should be under the “Data” tab. Also, choose a “Manual PivotTable.”)
There’s a new window that will pop up that will let you create your PivotTable. If Excel does not automatically populate with the right range of data (it did for me in Excel 2013, but did not in the Mac or Windows versions of 2011), click the right icon. If your range is correct, then go ahead and skip the next few paragraphs.
If you know how to select all your data (without any extra space, mind you), then go ahead and skip the next few paragraphs.
Now, put your mouse in the top-left corner of your worksheet, and then hold Shift + Control + Right Arrow. (If you’re on a Mac, replace Control in this keystroke with Command.) This should highlight the entire first row’s cells that have data in them. You should have “Sheet!$A$1:$AX$1″ in that white box right now.
Now we need to select the rest of the data. So, hold Shift + Control + Down Arrow. You may need to do this a couple times just because the keyboard shortcut will not select data that has gaps in it. Meaning, if there is a blank line in the middle of your worksheet, the Shift + Control + Down Arrow keyboard shortcut will only select the data up to the first blank area.
Once you’ve selected all your data, that little white box should have something like Sheet!$A$1:$AX$3042 in it. This means that all columns from A1 to AX are selected, and all rows from 1 to 3042 are selected. Basically, we’ve selected all your data.
Now, click the right icon again and the original window for PivotTables will appear.
Here’s the fun part: manipulating your data. Again, for this example we’ll be looking at our quarterly sales per store that we originally set out to do. In the right hand panel, check the boxes next to Store Name and Amount Paid. Excel should figure out what you’re trying to do and sort everything appropriately. (When I was testing this on the Mac, I did have to drag Store Name over to the “Row Labels” area for the Pivot Table to work the way I wanted it to.) On that note, you can actually drag the different fields into the boxes below and separate out your data. Additionally, you could then filter it.
So, if you wanted to see to which states your orders were shipped, you could drag the “Ship State” onto the “Column Labels” area. Then, if you wanted to filter it by country (meaning, you only see selected country’s states at one time), drag “Ship Country” onto the “Report Filter” area.
That’s it for this tutorial. We’ve listed a few more examples of types of PivotTables that you could make with the reports from ShipStation. Once you get the hang of the tool, you’ll see just how much information these reports hold, and how you can manipulate it to show what you want.
Have some experience with PivotTables you’d like to share? Or, did you create a report that you think others might enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!
Chubbies offers shorts that harken back to the days of old where shorts were the go-to garment for a man’s weekend. These are not to be confused with the dreaded and detestable cargo shorts, Chubbies shorts’ are a comfy, stylish, and liberating way to proudly display the “pants-are-for-work, and I’m not at work right now” mentality. Chubbies has even taken a stand against the plague that are cargo shorts, which you can (& totally should) watch below.
|Name: Jacob Beemer, Head of Fulfillment||Website: chubbiesshorts.com|
You have such a unique and awesome product, how’d you end up deciding to turn it into a business (and lifestyle)?
Basically, we were tired of looking at old pictures of our dads, uncles, and legends like Tom Selleck, Larry Bird, Arnold, etc. rocking sick, retro shorts and being unable to find anything comparable on the market today. So, we decided to make them ourselves, developing the original Chubbies prototype by drawing inspiration from 80’s style tennis shorts that our boy John McEnroe used to sport. We officially launched the company in the fall of 2011, selling first to our own friends, and then their friends, and then friends of their friends and beyond. We’ve grown like crazy over the past year and a half… turns out, we weren’t the only ones in search of radical, modern-day thigh liberators.
How did you decide on your company’s personality? (meaning your tone of voice, point of view, etc.)
When it comes to brand personality, we try and be as genuine as possible. So much of our brand is rooted in ethos — our character and personality define not only our shorts, but our customers as well – that when you buy a pair of Chubbies, you’re embracing the pants-are-for-work, 5 o’clock-somewhere identity we try to promote. At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of like-minded dudes trying to dominate the weekend the only way we know how: thighs out. Chubbies isn’t just a shorts company – it’s a lifestyle.
How has ShipStation helped you with your business?
Chubbies has been cranking out shorts at an awesome clip this year and ShipStation has been invaluable in helping us run our fulfillment engine. The level of customization ShipStation allows has been fantastic. We have lots of little quirks that make our fulfillment process uniquely challenging, so being able to mold ShipStation to our needs has been immensely helpful. The more I can automate the order process, the more time I have to manage and oversee larger details of our fulfillment and warehouse. ShipStation has brought us to a place were I no longer fear our exponential growth – I welcome it!
What’s your favorite ShipStation feature?
For our specific product, the ability to batch up to 500 orders at once has been crucial to our fulfillment success. That being said, my favorite ShipStation “feature” is actually the wonderful customer service and support team. Once we began switching over to the software, it was fantastic to have a human on the phone helping me customize ShipStation to our business. Along the way, I’ve had specific questions and requests, and it’s never been any trouble to contact the support team and figure out what we can do. The support team is not only available, they are very action/results-oriented which is something we love here at Chubbies Shorts.
Liberate your (or a loved ones’ legs) with Chubbies shorts! Summer’s here (well, at least the heat is here in Austin), so embrace it and go “Sky’s Out, Thighs Out!”
Want to be featured in our customer spotlight? Let us know!
We’ve got a brand new support page that’s been entirely redesigned to help you find your answers more quickly and easily! It has easy access to our support videos, knowledge base, and even our feature request system! We’ve made a quick video to give you a tour of the new site and show off some of its features. Watch the video, and then see the new site for yourself! (Then, don’t forget to come back here and leave us a comment with your feedback!)
A couple weeks ago, I went to a conference called the Bazaarvoice Social Summit, and most of the talk was around the ratings & reviews that retailers and brands get on their products, and how important those data points are for their businesses. A lot of the talk was how these gigantic companies (think Clinique & Macy’s) can work together—and have to work together—to get the right products in the hands of the consumers who want them.
While I was there, hearing all this talk about how the two radically different style of companies (meaning retailers versus brands) and how they need to collaborate in order to compete with companies such as Amazon, (yeah, they see Amazon as a huge competitor,) I could only think about you guys. Most of you, whether you ship a lot of products or only a few, are both brand *and* retailer. There is no gap between the two concepts, and as such, you have to think as both entities.
The most important thing, more than likely, to you as a brand-retailer combination, is your customer base and your engagement with them. That’s why some of you are so active on social media—Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. are all fantastic and easy ways for you to send and receive love to and from your customer base. It’s an efficient way for you to develop who you are as a brand and tout yourself as a retailer. It’s also an incredibly open way for potential customers to see who you are and find you via word of mouth.
What also ties in with this is the idea of ratings & reviews. All the content you get is ripe to turn into reviews for your business. If you haven’t already, you should be allowing reviews on your individual products. From the “small” sample Bazaarvoice showed us (20 million reviews, by the way, is small for them) people who leave reviews are 130% more valuable in the number of orders they make and the value of those orders, and have at least a 200% higher retention rate. This wasn’t just for 5-star reviews either. People who left even 1-star reviews followed this trend (see the graph above). Main takeaway: If you don’t have a way for reviews to be posted about you & your products, start now.
In the interest of keeping this under the realm of a blog post, and not an essay, I’ll leave it off here. I’m interested to see what you all think about how important this is to your business. How active are you on social media; has it helped? Have you done metrics to differentiate your reviewers vs. non-reviewers; are they different? Let me know in the comments!
We are a 100% web-based shipping software. That means that you can access our platform anywhere, anytime, from any type of computer without needing to download or install anything as long as you’ve got the Internet and a web browser. But, sometimes (and you know who you are), the tabs in your browser can get a little overwhelming. I know, because I’ve done it myself. I’m in the middle of a project, and all of a sudden, I have two windows with 20 tabs each. It’s an inherent problem that is a side effect of multi-tasking. So, then, you think: What if ShipStation were a native application?
For those of us less techie, a “native application” means that you don’t have to have a web browser to access it. Microsoft Word/Excel, iPhoto, heck, even Google Chrome is a native app. It’s got its own icon in your Start menu or Applications folder, and thus is easily recognizable as that program, and you can’t get it confused with any other program.
The best way I’ve found to make ShipStation a native app on a Mac is using a free program called Fluid. It’a super simple way to take any webpage, including ShipStation, and create an icon in your Applications folder. They have a pro version, which is $4.99, that will allow you to do a few extra things like pin your Fluid Apps to the dock.
To get started, first download Fluid from their website and install it.
Now, find Fluid in your Applications folder and open it. Here, you’ll be greeted with a dialog box asking for a bit of information. Enter the URL and name for the ShipStation app like you see below, and click “Create.”
Now, Fluid will take a second to create your application for you, and then you’ll find it in your Applications folder (or wherever you specified in the above picture).
That’s it! You now have ShipStation as a native app on your Mac! Below is a preview of what it looks on my Mac running OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion).
Luckily, for those of you on a Windows PC, you probably already have the tools to easily make ShipStation seem like a native application on your computer. Hint: it’s our favorite browser… Google Chrome.
In Google Chrome, first navigate to https://app.shipstation.com. Now, click on the Tools icon in the top right corner of the window.
A menu will now pop up. Navigate down to the Tools option, and then choose the Create application shortcuts menu item.
A smaller window will now display asking you where you want to save the shortcut. Select the option(s) you wish to use, and then click Create.
The window or tab in which the login to ShipStation was residing will now be converted to its own menu item and window. Congratulations! You’ve essentially turned our page into a native Windows application!
Today, we’re super happy to announce that we’ve joined the Magento family as a strategic industry partner. We couldn’t be more pleased about our new relationship with the eBay-owned front-runner, Magento. For those of you who have been around a while, you know that we’ve been integrated with the storefront, but are now proud to officially be a part of their Industry Partner Program.
Magento is a leading e-commerce platform, with solutions available for merchants who want a completely customized solution with their Community, Pro, and Enterprise self-hosted solutions. If you want a store that’s completely specific to you, and you’ve got the development resources, you should definitely look into Magento for your e-commerce platform. For merchants who do not have their own development team, they also offer a web-based / SaaS version of the shopping cart software, called Magento GO, that is just as robust.
This new partnership with Magento & ShipStation is another step forward in our effort to make your life as an online merchant easier than ever and Magento offers a free 30-day trial on their GO platform! For more information on all of their offerings click here.