Shipping hasn’t changed a great deal since FedEx disrupted logistics with overnight delivery in 1973.
Shyp, an ambitious, San Francisco-based start-up, is changing the shipping paradigm, shifting it from a labor-intensive process, to one that requires just a few clicks on a smartphone.
So what is the key Shyp differentiator? We live in an instant world in which tons of new applications, such as Postmates, are being developed every day, designed to deliver whatever you need with just a few clicks. What about the flipside? Instead of getting packages delivered to you, why isn’t there a service that can do the opposite and pick up your deliveries at the press of the button? It seems like such a simple concept, but most current logistics and shipping services are only available to businesses that can afford such sometimes expensive services. That’s where Shyp is making truly disruptive waves.
The roots of Shyp
Like any number of small businesses, the origin story of Shyp is based on a combination of need and the ashes of another endeavor. Shyp founder Kevin Gibbon was running a successful eBay business, but the cost of shipping and the hassle of having to travel to ship multiple packages on a daily basis was consuming his time and eating into his bottom line.
Those downsides led to the 2013 launch of Shyp, an application that allows users to easily take a photo of a package, have the package or multiple packages picked up in any location in the U.S., and delivered anywhere in the world with just a few clicks on a smartphone. Automation in shipping is not a new concept, but here’s where Shyp veers off the beaten logistics path: it’s a new process that guarantees anonymity. Instead of showing addresses, senders and addressees have usernames. The objective is to ensure that any deliveries keep private details private
Building a model around disruption
As the Shyp app shows, innovation and disruption don't need to be complicated, they just need to be spurred by a common problem with an easy solution. That said, in both large and small ways, Gibbon had to build a business model that differed from existing shipping and logistics providers in supporting Shyp’s unique brand promise. Some of the foundations of the model were intuitive and simply made business sense (e.g., negotiating bulk shipments to lower overall costs); others were driven by the market and the need to shift on the fly. Some of those aspects include:
- A focus on the brand promise. The bedrock of what Shyp does lies in maintaining a straightforward approach to the service they offer, with an upfront description of a three-step process of picking up, packaging and delivering and keeping the options for service to minimum. Along with keeping the process simple, consistently streamlining it (e.g., creating a mobile app) keeps it customer-friendly. If the overall brand promise is around removing the complexity in shipping, Shyp’s goal of having shipments picked up within 20 minutes of a transmitted request, along with a flat pick-up fee of $5, is an example of how they support that promise.
- The ability to move with the market. Tweaking the service and attempting wherever possible to tailor it to market preferences has been key to growth. Here’s one example: Originally, business customers could ship only 20 packages at a time. Moving that number up to more than 1,000 gave Shyp the opportunity to scale with its customers, as it meant that those clients no longer had to utilize multiple shippers.
- Not always running lean and mean. It may seem counter-intuitive, but disruption often means rethinking the way things are typically done. To that end, Shyp moved from a contractor-driver model to hiring full-timers, thus skirting some of the issues that have become problematic for Uber, Lyft, and other similar services. On the flipside, Gibbon made moves to contain costs while supporting the infrastructure, such as expanding services through third-party apps to build on and expand services already offered without development costs—an approach that also provides low-cost co-marketing resources.
- Put control in your customers’ hands. For business customers, Shyp offers a simple dashboard that lets users easily manage orders, track shipments in real time, and notify recipients when their package has been shipped. In addition, the company offers e-commerce integration, carrier price comparisons, pay-as-you-go shipping, prepaid returns, and other features.
That combination of business model and approach to market needs has helped Shyp grow 20 percent per month since 2015 and ship 600 percent more packages in 2016 than it did the previous year. This new-wave logistics company proves that finding a disruptive way to help other businesses save time and money with your service or product—supported by a fluid business model—doesn’t have to be a complex proposition.