November 23, 2014

Move Your Merchandise: A Review of Shipwire

The Fortune 500, Amazon, eBay and the biggest brands in the world do something most of us take for granted. They ship products–every day, all over the world. But for the small company, shipping is not an easy task, nor is it inexpensive.  If your company sells physical product and is growing, you have probably struggled with warehousing, managing and shipping. Shipwire is an outsourced shipping and storage solution aimed at small business owners.

If you’ve ever wondered how the big guys do it, I’ll tell you. They have logistics professionals on their team!  They have robots (see picture below of Kiva Systems’ little orange robot) that pick up stocked shelves and intelligently move  them around to keep the bestsellers near the door. Most important of all, they have warehouses spread out around the U.S. and the world.

Enter Shipwire: the logistics and warehouse option for the little guy, or even the medium-sized guy (no gender bias intended.)  Normally, I just stick to software and leave the big logistics stuff to others, but I hear over and over from other entrepreneurs, “My garage is full of product and boxes and packing materials,” or that they’ve tried using some big-name providers only to lose a lot of money. When I read a blog post by the marketing guy at Shipwire, I thought I needed to tell Small Business Trends readers about this service.

What stood out, of course, is that it’s easy to give away a free trial of software. It costs you very little. But free trials of hardware and real-world products are another matter. But that’s what Shipwire offers: a six-item free trial. You ship them your stuff, have them handle it and ship it back to you or to a customer. After that, the service starts at $29.95 a month. But I’ll warn you now, it jumps up after that. However, for a small operation with a handful of products, Shipwire offers a compelling and time-saving solution.

Their system integrates with over 50 shopping cart or ecommerce providers, so you can tie your entire purchase cycle into fulfillment.  They work with major online storefront solutions, such as BigCommerce, 3Dcart and many others. They have some well-known products moving through their five warehouses, including those funny Angry birds plush toys.

What I really liked:

  • Loads of shipping options
  • Pick and pack. I can send them individual products and they’ll combine them when a customer orders.
  • Lick and stick.  I can send them the box of items and they’ll simply affix a label and mail it.
  • They will handle returns for you, too.

What I’d like to see:

  • A warehouse in Asia to help manage import and export to Japan, India and China, to name just a few. They already have a United Kingdom warehouse, and one on the European continent is in the works.

Overall, if you’ve tried to grow your business and fulfillment is slowing you down, then Shipwire is worth a very close look.  It is a physical solution, but it is also a software solution due to all their ecommerce integrations.

Learn more about Shipwire.

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TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

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