I am so excited for ZenSales to join the Ship.com team. Our vision is to help make small business dreams come true. How you may ask? Well, I think if you know some of my story, which starts with the story of my parents, then I feel that you will better know Ship.com, and I hope that you share my excitement about our future together.
Before I share this story, I want to welcome the ZenSales users to Ship.com, where we focus on making life easier by reimagining and remaking shipping, tracking, and delivery into something that is easy, fun, and social.
Thanks for listening to my story, followed by what you can expect from Ship.com now and in the future.
Joe, Ship.com Founder & CEO
My mother was a small business owner. She started out owning a hair salon but she also had many “side hustles” throughout the years. She owned a wig shop, an exercise company, and taught hairdressing. She owned many other different kinds of businesses. They all had one thing in common, they all made money.
In 1989 she quit hairdressing and started a small shipping store called Qwik, Pack & Ship. Today this would be like a UPS Store, but she made up her own brand. This was before the advent of eCommerce.
I went to work for her one summer during college and I was constantly pushing her to improve and grow the business. One summer, she fired me because she said I had too many ideas and it would be better if I just kept quiet and packed some boxes. I left and started a summer landscaping business instead!
She kept the business small, to a level she was comfortable running. I later understood that she was a small business owner because she wanted to control her time more than anything. And in order to grow the business larger, say to multiple locations, it would require more of her time and reduce her freedom. The business provided what she wanted from it, which was time, personal satisfaction, money, and most of all personal freedom. As a successful small business owner, she didn’t need anyone else to support her, not even my father. Delivering personal freedom is the ultimate power of small business and why it embodies the ideals of America.
My father was also in logistics. He ran the shipping department for Cutco Cutlery where he worked for 42 years. He used to get up at 4:45 am to start work at 5:30 am and stayed until 5 pm or later, especially during the busy season in the summer. He didn’t have control over his time and that meant no freedom. He had to be there and stay there all day, 5 or 6 days a week. He was the exact opposite of my mother in this regard. He wanted stability and security. He wanted a steady paycheck that he could rely on. It ultimately worked out for my father, but over the years during bad times he had to take a pay cut and they occasionally went on strike (without pay). Ironically, during the strike times, my father went to work for his friend, a small business owner, who hired him as a favor so he would have some income. My father retired in 1997 at 60 ½ years old. He could do this because he had a 401K and hit one of the greatest stock market runs in history (aka luck). He loved his job, was a great father, and had a personally satisfying career, but he never had freedom all his working life. He was always dependent on someone else for his livelihood.
Cutco sold their knives using a direct sales model. My first job after college was to work for Cutco as the Manager of Finance and Administration in Seoul, Korea. I didn’t get to sell but I did complete sales training. I was, however, intimately involved with the direct sellers, the majority of who were Korean women and who were all essentially small business owners. I saw first hand how the direct sales model gave people valuable sales experience while helping them earn extra money for college or their family. Some made it a career and did very well financially. The main thing I noticed was direct salespeople were entrepreneurs running their own business. This gave them a ton of freedom and control over their time and how much money they could earn. They were confident enough in themselves to bet on themselves and build the lives they wanted on their terms, even when everyone else was probably telling them that it was too risky or too difficult. You have to have respect for that! I saw that being in direct sales was not for everyone; and while more failed than succeeded I saw an entrepreneurial drive that was energizing and exciting.
In 1998 I left Cutco Korea and moved to Silicon Valley to become a technology entrepreneur. It was fun and exhilarating. It was the dotcom boom, Internet 1.0, which was a great time to be in Silicon Valley. I started a few companies, some that worked and some that didn’t. One company I started, Webgistix, provided software and order fulfillment services to smallish eCommerce business. Small, in this case, would be companies shipping from 250 to 10,000 orders a month, where eCommerce was the owner/managements’ primary business (not a side hustle). We built a two day delivery network so small business’ could compete with Amazon. Webgistix was very successful and was acquired by Rakuten in 2013.
During this time at Webgistix we often tried to help start-up entrepreneurs with logistics software and services for their business. It almost never worked out. Eventually, to my dismay, we stopped taking start-ups and micro-business as customers; it was just not profitable in our business model. At the time we were receiving 5,000+ inquiries a year for our eCommerce software and fulfillment services and only 500 of these fit our model. This meant there was a big market to help start-up and micro-businesses. I wanted to find a solution to help the other 4,500 a year because these were the small business people I loved. These were energetic and excited entrepreneurs like my mother and the Cutco sellers; these were people looking for personal freedom, a way to achieve their dreams and put extra money in their pockets. These are the people we should be helping. This was the market for me. Enter Ship.com.
Ship.com is dedicated to helping small business people make their dreams come true. Our current niche in that dream is the part after the sale is made and is focused on helping sellers:
- Ship easily
- Sell easily
- Manage buyer relationships
As Kyle Henzel commented in his blog, ZenSales is thrilled to start their next chapter as part of Ship.com. Together we will build products that make small business growth simple. Following is some of what you already get and a future look at what you can expect.
- The first thing we do is that we make it really easy for sellers like you to ship your packages to your buyers. We import the sales data from your platform and convert these into easily shippable orders.
- Then we allow sellers and buyers to track packages all the way to delivery via an app buyer downloads onto their phones.
- The app also allows buyers to track all their packages from every retailer, making it useful to buyers beyond just doing business with one seller
- Buyers can let sellers know they received their packages through the app.
- Sellers and buyers can communicate through the app (coming soon)
- This app allows buyers to return packages back to sellers (coming soon)
- The app allows buyers to share what they bought with friends and family and recommend products they like
- The app allows sellers to advertise to targeted buyers (coming soon)
- Sellers have a desktop tool to manage buyer loyalty programs
- Sellers have a desktop tool to manage buyer email communications
- Sellers have a tool to take orders during live selling on Facebook (coming soon)
Technology has advanced a lot in the past decade and this has made it much easier for people to become small business owners. Platforms of all kinds exist to help would-be entrepreneurs start and run a business.
You can sell goods on Amazon, eBay, Esty, and many others. Run your online store with Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce, and many others. Provide services through Upwork, Fiver, Freelancer, and many others. You can work and connect from home with Slack, Zoom, Trello, and many others.
This makes it easier to start a business but harder to compete as anyone with an idea can now open a business. And, it’s even harder for micro-entrepreneurs to compete with large businesses. Therefore it is critically important for small sellers to have the best tools possible to make and keep them successful.
Ship.com helps sellers become successful and achieve their dreams by providing simple tools that help sellers save time, money, and sell more.
Ship.com does this by helping sellers manage the post-sale experience from end to end. This starts with shipping the product, managing delivery, easy returns, email marketing, loyalty programs, and facilitating new referral business.
Ship.com provides tools to help small businesses compete with large and small sellers to make their dreams come true. By working together we want small business owners to be successful and help them get the extra money and freedom they want while fighting against the naysayers. We’ve got your back.