To celebrate 10 years of SaaStr, we’re revisiting some classic podcast episodes. Up today: Harry Stebbings interviews Shippo Co-Founder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu. In April 2016, Shippo had only 22 employees and was just beginning to scale. They’ve since opened new hubs in Austin and Dublin and in 2021, hired Employee number 200.
As eCommerce grows increasingly critical to the modern business landscape, it’s easy to see how a company like Shippo has grown so successful. As of 2022, Shippo has reached unicorn status, valued at $1 billion after their most recent Series E fundraising round.
Shippo is an API & dashboard designed to streamline the entire shipping process for business owners. It helps connect store and sales channels, create discounted shipping labels, track shipments, and simplify returns.
In this classic podcast episode, Shippo CEO & Co-Founder Laura Behrens Wu shares insights into building a thriving business that delivers value to so many companies.
Behrens Wu was inspired to build a solution that helped simplify shipping for everyone, especially smaller store owners hoping to compete with retail giants like Amazon. As of 2016, when this recording took place, customers’ expectations around free shipping grew, with 63% of all eCommerce shoppers hoping to see free shipping at checkout.
Free and discounted shipping is not only a must-have, but it’s also a valuable sales expansion tool. 90% of shoppers were willing to add more items to their shopping cart to qualify for free shipping.
So with all of these factors at play, Behrens Wu was determined to make shipping much easier for every seller, no matter what their company size.
API, Developer Adoption & Growth
When Shippo was in its early stages, a frustrating problem persisted –– existing shipping company APIs were clunky and not easy to use. Many of them were old and outdated, their API keys were not publicly available, and their documentation was not clear or helpful.
Shippo changed all that. Their goal was to present a simple, accessible solution that would be easy for developers to use, and they certainly built their API with this mission in mind. They modeled their API documentation after Stripe’s for clear, simple instructions that empower even non-coders to set up an API quickly. They also decided to build a dashboard on top of their API to help visualize the experience for non-technical teams, and they made themselves a multi-carrier solution, which means that developers can use just one API to connect to more than one shipping company.
However, while they focused on making the product simple for the developers, Behrens Wu pointed out that often the customers who were concerned about shipping were Opps teams. So, Shippo needed to create content marketing to educate non-developers on how an API can help them achieve their goals.
They target Opps teams with lots of SEO-driven content marketing and onboarding education, while they rely on the superiority of the product to continue to attract the developers.
Key Takeaways and Helpful Tips for Tech Founders
- Keep your design and user experience as simple as possible. Differentiate yourself by solving a problem in the easiest way possible for customers.
- Maintain transparency in pricing for your customers.
- Lean on other tech founders who have years of experience to give you advice.