Friends back in the Czech Republic asked Jan Bednar – a Czech native then at Florida Atlantic University – if he could send them stuff they wanted to buy from the US. Jan’s answer eventually led to ShipMonk, a shipping and fulfilment firm, that raised $10M in Series A on 29 October 2018.
E-Commerce attracts small and medium sellers today
The success of e-commerce has incentivized businesses to sell online. While e-commerce sales have grown by 14.41% in 2017 (to $446.8B) and 12.9% in 2018 (to $504.6B) in the US, the number of retailers has also grown at a rate of 13.5% (to 102,728 in 2013) as per latest estimates in a report published by Forbes. More and more smaller businesses are joining the fray as it allows access to a much larger customer base (expected to grow from 209.6 million in 2016 to 230.5 million in 2021). While a lot of them are flocking to marketplaces like Amazon, many are also setting up their own websites to attract customers.
Fulfilment is one the biggest challenges new sellers face
However, as these traditional businesses move online, they face new challenges – understanding customers, marketing, and production. Although ramping up production and storage becomes a big challenge in itself, the process of delivering to a customer – fulfilment – is something most of them have to figure from scratch.
e-commerce fulfilment is a multi-pronged challenge. Sellers have to cover multiple geographies and deliver products of different sizes and specifications sourced from different manufacturers at low costs to keep prices down. Customers today expect deliveries to be made to remote locations without being charged excessively for it. It is these customer expectations that fulfilment service providers like ShipMonk help businesses, especially new and smaller ones, address.
How does ShipMonk help with the fulfilment?
ShipMonk uses technology to make shipping faster.
ShipMonk allows sellers to source inventory from their suppliers directly. After collecting products from multiple channels that the seller employs, ShipMonk sends the products to the sellers. ShipMonk’s technology allows order-level integration with the seller which allows it to ship orders quickly. With real-time order tracking, 24*7 customer helplines with 1:1 service for query and complaint resolution, and an effective returns process, ShipMonk effectively covers all aspects of the seller delivery mechanism.
In addition to creating value along both the sourcing and delivery chains of a retailer’s business, ShipMonk also adds value by providing cloud-based software solutions for warehouse, inventory, order, and shipping management. In effect, a seller can now partner with ShipMonk for all parts of its logistics and supply chain – sourcing from different vendors to supplying to different customers.
Scalability is an important factor in ShipMonk’s offering – sellers can easily integrate their systems with ShipMonk through APIs allowing them to onboard more and more suppliers and sell to bigger geographies and markets. The addition of software services in their services portfolio does not mean ShipMonk’s focus on logistics takes a backseat. ShipMonk claims 99.9% picking efficiency along with timely delivery. They offer customized packing and claim quicker fulfilment times; all this while maintaining cheaper rates.
ShipMonk’s journey started in 2014 when Jan Bednar, a young Czech native with dreams in his eyes founded BedaBox, a company working on shipping to international clients. While working with BedaBox, Jan realised the opportunity in providing technology and logistics to small and medium e-commerce companies.
In 2016, BedaBox was rebranded as ShipMonk. The organization was based out of Pompano Beach, Florida from where it shifted to its current location in Deerfield Beach, Florida. They also have an operating facility in California and have now opened a development office in the Czech Republic.
The company is headed by Jan who is its current CEO. The top leadership includes the CTO Vaclav Jares and CRO Kevin Sides. Jan, who moved to the US from the Czech Republic at the age of 16, was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 Retail and E-Commerce 2018 list. With an employee size of about 250, the organization was on number 29 in the Inc. fastest growing companies list.
ShipMonk’s revenues rose from $3.9M in 2016 to $10.6M in 2017. The projection for 2018 stands at $26M. The growth amounts to a CAGR of 188.54% over a five-year period. On 29 October, they raised $10M in Series A from SJF Ventures, Grotech Ventures, and Supply Chain Ventures. SJF was the lead investor. The fresh injection of funds allows the company to unlock more business opportunities and tailor more special and unique offerings like Amazon FBA prep service it currently provides. It will also enable ShipMonk to develop competitive advantage (including innovative technology, logistics, and services like Amazon and Prime services) against competitors like ShipStation, Shippo, and Ordoro. With identical offerings, all three work within the application software industry and are trying to attract small and medium players with their logistics services. With such competition present in the market, each player will need to differentiate itself and at the same time maintain high service standards.
A customer-oriented future
As ShipMonk heads into the future, it will do well to always keep in foresight its mission of helping its client base, the small and medium businesses, focus on growing their business – stress less and grow more. Customer confidence in this business comes from their trust in ShipMonk’s operations and belief in the efficacy of their technology. With these two most important weapons in their arsenal, ShipMonk is poised to unlock the next phase in its growth journey.
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