Well Made

Ep. 146 Shipping is changing with Laura Behrens Wu

April 29, 2021 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

Accelerated by dire circumstance, ecommerce had record growth over the past year. But behind all those order confirmations and tracking numbers, supply chains and logistics were stretched further than ever. 

Returning guest Laura Behrens Wu is the CEO and founder of the shipping platform, Shippo and she had a front row seat to watch the rapid growth of brands and shipping providers. In this episode, she's unpacking the past year of shipping from every perspective: consumer, brand, and carrier. 

Data from Shippo's 2020 end-of-year report Shipping is changing
Data from Shippo's 2020 end-of-year report Shipping is changing

0:43 Laura takes us back to the reason she started Shippo — to make shipping labels cheap and easy. Today, their mission today is much bigger than 4x6, and they're servicing a wider range of companies. Launching with small brands got them the volume they needed to think bigger and bigger. This year, they have their sights set on more integrations with platforms and marketplaces. 

9:51 Everything about 2020 was abnormal. In March, ecommerce laggards quickly joined the click-and-ship revolution to stock up on necessities, causing five years' of ecommerce growth in three months. In April, we were already settling into the new normal, purchasing even more categories online. This rise in ecommerce paired with delays in shipping made the holiday shipment numbers last year bigger, and more dispersed than ever. 

By giving rise to the essential nature of ecommerce, we made way for a more fragmented landscape of shipping providers. Laura is excited about the hyperlocal potential of these independent logistics companies. 

23:15 Are we in the midst of a shift in consumer expectations? When small brands were struggling, Laura says more consumers were inclined to shift dollars away from the 2-day convenience of Amazon, in order to see independent brands thrive. Not only that, global shipping delays made us hyper aware of the physical limitations of warehouses, trucks, and ports. 

Laura believes that this transparency is key for setting customer expectations. Her advice is to do it soon and do it often, so there are no surprises at checkout. Also, give customers the option to pay for their priorities or make their own tradeoffs. For example, free shipping in exchange for a longer lead time vs paid shipping for a faster lead time. 

32:12 Why don’t all brands sell on Amazon? They want to control the whole experience. Almost 80% of searches on Amazon are generic words, not brands. 

34:40 Laura shares the different dynamic between big carriers and small carriers. Newer small carriers were built online, in most cases optimized for packages, but without the breadth of logistics capabilities. While decades old carriers were initially built for mail, but the lacking online functionality is not representative of their depth of logistics reliability. 

And can we all take a moment to appreciate how much work goes into getting a package from one doorstep to another?

40:29 Stephan finally divulges how Lumi was able to claim the "@lumi" handle on Twitter, and Laura shares an exciting reading list for anyone who's a fan of sci-fi or history. And she shares why chose to talk about freezing her eggs on Twitter.

Also mentioned in the episode: 


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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