I’ve deemed this summer the summer of events here at ShipStation. It might be blistering hot in Texas but I have had the honor of hosting unique panels at both our July Pride in Bloom Ship & Sip event and our ShipStation University Homecoming event. If you missed out on these events in person, I am here to break down the highlights.
June: Pride in Bloom at Ship & Sip
We started summer right with our very first Ship and Sip event with a live audience and who better to join us for this event than Rachel Smith of Pride Socks. After an amazing presentation about organizing your warehouse from our Sponsor SkuVault we sat down with Rachel to talk about one of my favorite subjects: community.
If you know anything about Pride Socks, you know that they are more than the awesome apparel they sell. Pride Socks is about lifting others up and creating a community that does not discriminate in sharing and celebrating joy.
It starts from the moment you open your package and receive your very own Proudest Moment card with your purchase. This card arrives blank and prompts you as the recipient to reflect on, write down, and share your proudest moment.
In our talk, Rachel stated that this idea sprung from biking around downtown Austin while giving away socks to those in need. She decided that instead of just giving away her product she would ask people to share with her their proudest moment. She noticed that at first it was hard for people and they couldn’t think of anything but after she shared her own others immediately opened up and shared their proudest moments.
Pride Socks: Inspiring and growing pride in the community
In everything Pride Socks does, they create and inspire community by highlighting voices from all walks of life. They team up with brand ambassadors for their Custom for a Cause Collection, to create a custom design for socks or other apparel and part of the proceeds will be donated to a cause of their choosing.
In addition to this, Pride socks has recently launched a new series called the Artist Series. The artist series features an apparel collection that features specially created artwork by artists from around the world. The intent is not only to showcase local artists from around the world and give them a platform to share their work and message but find a way to share the voices of local community artists in a global sense. I was lucky enough to purchase the very first design in the series Imperfectly Perfect by Katrina Adams.
If I learned anything from this event and my talk with Rachel it would be the following two things:
- Pride is way more than just orientation or lifestyle —it is about being authentic in who you are and being able to celebrate others as they are.
- We all need pride, and we all need community. And the best way to do that is to lift others up and have pride in yourself and those around you.
July: Ship and Sip Crashes ShipStation University Homecoming.
In July, we had the long-awaited return of ShipStation University in Austin. To celebrate we hosted a super special event at ShipStation Headquarters with food trucks, presentations from our support and product organizations, a ShipStation Genius bar with our amazing support representatives, a frozé and nitrogen ice cream bar, live music, and a make-your-own succulent planter station.
I also hosted a panel with three of our local ShipStation merchants.
- Zach Horvath, the founder of an inspirational merchandise company, Live a Great Story.
- Amanda Eddy founder and CEO of the jewelry store, Amanda Deer Jewelry.
- Courtney Hollinger, the Human Resources Director of Clean Cause.
Ecommerce has seen tremendous growth since the pandemic. Which has changed the way businesses innovate to find new methods of meeting their customers where they are. I sat down with our panelists to discuss these trends and changes.
Shift back into in-person commerce over ecommerce
For Zach and his company, the shift back into in-person commerce has raised questions about how he will sell and adapt. With in-person commerce being more appealing, some businesses are trying to find ways to meet customers where they are.
“So I think that there’s definitely a shift in what that looks like and just kind of an exploration of where the industry is going. Are people buying stuff online? Are they buying it in person? Are they returning it? Are they wanting to try on virtually?”Zach Horvath
Courtney from Clean Cause echoed the sentiment shared by Zach, but with one difference. Clean Cause is a grocery product and is mostly seeing either curbside or in-store purchases. For them, the challenges of a changing ecommerce landscape is less about the logistics of selling online and more about using platforms to educate consumers about their product.
“Finding the ways to engage people and get them to learn about our product online. To not spend crazy marketing dollars to attract them to get really good ROI and use both channels equally to drive our product.”Courtney Hollinger
The Continued rise of social commerce
“I think social commerce has been really big and it is only growing. That’s when you are selling your goods on a social media platform and them customer is actually able to check out in the platform and not have to like leave and go to your website.”Amanda Eddy
Soon consumers will be able to watch an unboxing on YouTube and be able to directly locate and purchase the items in real-time which understandably has the interest of many businesses around the world looking to capitalize and expand their digital reach.
Considerations when trying to adopt trends
With the excitement of these developments, it is hard not to jump in head first. But what I learned from these panelists is that whatever you do it must be done strategically and with the heart of your brand in mind.
“Most businesses don’t die from starvation, they die from indigestion.” Horvath
It is far better to focus on doing what you do well than trying to be or do too much. Not all trends or approaches will work for your business and that is okay, it is far better to focus on building upon what you already have than to try something that doesn’t fit your consumers or business.
When Amanda first joined TikTok she struggled to get the channel up and running. In addition to running her business full time, she struggled to take and edit videos.
When Clean Cause attempted to ship free samples it ended up costing a lot in shipping since their product is heavier. For Zach, he tried to amp up the diversification of his online presence but it was just too much. Zach decided to reevaluate his strategy and keep a deep focus on his existing channels and products.
While not all trends fit every business Amanda, Courtney, and Zach have found ways to adjust these trends to their business. For instance, Amanda now relies on user-generated content for her TikTok. Courtney uses coupons instead of sending heavy samples. And Zach focuses on his existing platforms to optimize performance.
How Erin Sees It
My biggest takeaway from this panel is that trends come and go, the key is to focus on the heart of your brand to move forward. Sometimes this might mean trying something new and failing, deciding not to expand into a new trending platform, or even trying something that no one else is doing. At the end of the day only you know what is best for your business, don’t be afraid to follow your gut.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed this recap, if you would like to watch the recordings of these events you can find them here:
Thanks again to all of our amazing sponsors and panelist for this event if you would like to check them out you can use the links below: