“Everyone loves doing taxes”—would be a false statement. Doing taxes all by yourself is laborious, which is why so many people prefer letting companies like TurboTax do it for them.
That’s the basic idea behind Raleigh-based Shipmint. But instead of helping with the un-fun task of doing taxes, the startup helps large-scale ecommerce companies with a similarly un-fun task: managing their shipping costs by dissecting the massive amounts of data and information within shipping invoices.
A single shipping invoice can contain hundreds of variables and the amount of arbitrary charges and fees makes it time-consuming for companies to understand what exactly is driving their shipping costs, Shipmint Founder Brandon Staton said. The problem is multiplied for bigger ecommerce companies, which make up the majority of Shipmint’s customers. Such companies may ship thousands of units a day and have shipping invoices that are hundreds to thousands of pages long.
The problem is, Staton said, the shipping industry is basically a duopoly with FedEx and UPS. Compared to the more competitive automobile industry, for instance, in which it’s pretty straightforward for customers to understand what goes into the price of their car, the way shipping carriers set costs and explain them in invoices is cryptic and arcane, Staton said.
“It’s all there in the customer’s invoice data, but the carriers don’t make it easy to discern,” Staton said. “So our system gets fed the customer data straight from their invoices and breaks all of it down for them, so they can see where their costs are coming from and make some decisions to change behaviors when and where necessary, and/or go to their carriers and ask them for some relief in certain categories.”
As the pandemic forced many companies to expand their delivery options to customers in order to survive, understanding shipping costs is more of a necessity than ever as many are faced with costs they previously could avoid, Staton said.
“It’s really forced them to pay closer attention,” Staton said. “But it’s one thing to know you have to pay attention, and it’s another thing to know how to pay attention. Shipmint makes it easier for customers to pay attention.”
Rather than combing through the behemoth of a shipping invoice themselves, companies that subscribe to Shipmint can log onto their personal dashboard and view a summary report and data visualization of their costs. Staton said a lot of customers log on monthly to compare month-over-month and year-over-year costs and identify any changes.
On the dashboard, companies can quickly understand if their rates are as competitive as they can be and on par with similar companies in the market, Staton said.
“What we tell them is, the worst thing or the best thing that can happen is that you can’t save any money,” Staton said. “Because what that means is, your rates are as competitive as they can be.”
Shipment is a semifinalist for one of NC IDEA’s $50K SEED grants. Staton said he’s focusing on improving the development platform this year to make it more of an enterprise solution and wants to expand his current 10-employee team to take on full-time developers and sales employees.