Shiprocket - Innovative Tech-Enabled eCommerce Shipping Solution

Lakshya Singh Lakshya Singh
Jan 27, 2021 14 min read
Shiprocket - Innovative Tech-Enabled eCommerce Shipping Solution

eCommerce is growing like never before. People are preferring to buy online instead of going into the market. On the other hand, brands are providing better offers and exclusive launches online to attract more buyers. It helps the brand to save on many kinds of expenses.

However, many small businesses are still not able to afford to ship their products to different places. This makes them lose the opportunity to grow on a global level. This is what Shiprocket visions to solve in India. Founded by Saahil Goel and Gautam Kapoor, Shiprocket is a tech-enabled logistic platform that provides affordable plans to MSMEs so that they can come online and sell to anywhere they want.

Along with logistic service, Shiprocket provides many benefits like warehousing, packaging and other related services. Moreover, their platform includes many other integrations which help the merchants and seller to manage the deliveries.

We interviewed Saahil Goel to know about their vision, future plans, startup story, hiring strategy, services, and other factors that helped in the success of Shiprocket.

Shiprocket - Vision and mission

Shiprocket is a tech-enabled logistics platform connecting merchants, consumers, and supply chain partners through its eCommerce shipping solutions. The brand delivers to 220 countries and over 27,000 pin codes across India at the lowest rates. Serving over 85,000 active Direct to Consumer sellers, Shiprocket helps Small and Medium Businesses fulfill end-to-end operations seamlessly with its AI-powered post-order services such as smart packaging, eCommerce fulfillment, and warehousing solution, hyperlocal deliveries, shipping aggregation, free website development, and much more. Shiprocket aims to help its sellers grow their businesses by providing the widest pin-code serviceability with the help of 17+ reliable courier partners to ensure efficient and timely last-mile deliveries. Today, the company powers 4-5% of all eCommerce in India.

Shiprocket’s core belief is aligned with serving small and medium-sized sellers of the country. They have set their vision on helping the Indian SMBs by taking their business online and competing with the larger players like Amazon. Since its inception, Shiprocket has always focused on building and innovating for its sellers. Their long-term vision is to become India’s leading post-order experience platform, encompassing a myriad of fulfillment services such as high-quality packaging, eCommerce fulfillment and warehousing, hyperlocal delivery, website development, check-out enhancement, and more.  

Shiprocket’s vision is to be recognized as a leading D2C enabler, helping small and medium merchants grow their business in the eCommerce space. The future plan is to become India’s leading post-order experience platform, encompassing a gamut of tech-enabled services related to logistics and order fulfillment. To accomplish this objective, we have already launched several AI-powered offerings such as smart packaging (Shiprocket Packaging), eCommerce fulfillment and warehousing solution (Shiprocket Fulfillment), hyperlocal delivery (Shiprocket Saral), full-stack website development (Shiprocket Social) and more.
- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

Shiprocket - Market/industry details

The current global market value of the logistic industry is over $50,000,000,000 (50 billion).

Shiprocket - The Idea and Starting Up

The ideation of Shiprocket was started when Saahil once figured a gap in the Indian market which keeps MSMEs away from growing more. Saahil, co-founder of Shiprocket wanted to build a technology which will help small business to come online without any hassle of logistics. He started it as a part time from the USA with his friend Gautam in India. Saahil later realised that he has to get into it full time to see actual results and so, he shifted to India.

Here is the ideation and startup story of Shiprocket in the words of Saahil Goel, co-founder of Shiprocket:

Even during my first job as a trainee at Max Life Insurance, I was hungry to learn all there was and had decided deep in my mind that entrepreneurship is where I will ultimately lead my career towards. This single-mindedness helped me navigate my professional life in a very different way as compared to some of my peers. I was more interested in strategy and business models as well as learning the width of every organization I worked with. I was more candid in my feedback to my teams and superiors, took more ownership, and delivered more projects much faster so I could move on to the next one. I stayed away from office politics and would always tell myself "when I build my company, here are the things I WON'T DO". This not only helped me perform better with the organizations I worked, but also prepared me for my life in the future as an entrepreneur. In some ways, the entirety of my "pre-startup" career was an 8-year preparation to start my venture!

Gautam Kapoor (Co-Founder,  Shiprocket) and I were close friends then, but he was in India and I was in the USA. We had been toying with a bunch of ideas, and one day, out of the blue, we thought to ourselves that India has millions of small and medium sellers, and no one is building technology for them. So let’s go and build a technology that can help them go online easily. It was really that simple! We didn’t reach out to any incubators or did our own research because we were sure of the fact that eventually, eCommerce will boom in India.

So, for the first six months, Gautam set up the office in New Delhi, and I started waking up at 4:00 am (since I was still in the US) to work with him on our startup idea. We would work for 4 hours in the morning and then work some more in the evening. Initially, the process of setting up the business was a bit slow because I was working remotely, and Gautam Kapoor (Co-Founder, Shiprocket) and I were close friends then, but he was in India and I was in the USA. We had been toying with a bunch of ideas, and one day, out of the blue, we thought to ourselves that India has millions of small and medium sellers, and no one is building technology for them. So let’s go and build a technology that can help them go online easily. It was really that simple! We didn’t reach out to any incubators or did our own research because we were sure of the fact that eventually, eCommerce will boom in India. Gautam was trying to convince his parents about leaving the family business to start his own thing. In the first 3-4 months, we had drafted a 200-page document talking about the business model, brand name, logo, and more. From there on, we primped up an office to make it look like we had something real going on there, interviewed a candidate, selected him, and had him reject us. That incident, in particular, was very demotivating for us. However, at the same time, I realized that I couldn't keep doing this part-time. I have to commit to our startup idea full-time, and finally, when I moved back in January, we started recruiting our first engineers.

So basically, we bootstrapped our company, sold services for the first year or so to make salaries for our engineers to build the product, and eventually raised angel funding a couple of years into the startup.

Shiprocket - Services & Products

  • As a full-stack eCommerce logistics platform, their brand enables sellers to bring their business in an online setup by creating a store and enlisting products free of cost. This can be done using one of their undertakings, Shiprocket Social, which allows any merchant to navigate through the world of social selling with ease through free features like Facebook shop, payment gateways, bulk upload of products, personalized coupon codes, sales tracking dashboard, etc.
  • Shiprocket provides efficient and timely doorstep delivery to the customers. Shiprocket Social comes with a pre-integrated logistics dashboard that allows any merchant to ship products across 27,000+ pin codes PAN India and 220 countries globally. To enhance this automated delivery mechanism, this eCommerce logistics solution comes with a choice of 17+ courier partners like BlueDart, FedEx, DHL, Delhivery etc. and an AI-powered tool, CORE (Courier Recommendation Engine) that makes optimum use of data to suggest the right courier partner to the merchant on the basis of delivery time, cost and the best rated on the list. Besides this, some of the other features that help the merchant to provide an extraordinary delivery experience to their customers and hence, build a proper retail brand are, real-time order tracking, early COD, easy returns, SMS and Email notifications, non-delivery updates, shipping rate calculator, automatic inventory sync and more.
  • To heighten the delivery experience even further for the customer, the merchants can use another one of our offerings, Shiprocket Packaging. It provides high-quality packaging solutions that are accessible to all, regardless of the size of their business. These packaging options are cost-effective, made with the finest material, help reduce weight-related discrepancies and reduce the manual effort of the seller by providing an automated inventory tracking feature.
  • As opposed to enterprise business, it is quite challenging for a small or medium-sized business to use a proper warehousing model as it can be an expensive function. To address this pain-point, they introduced an eCommerce fulfillment and warehousing solution - Shiprocket Fulfillment. It is a flexible offering that helps the seller manage sudden order volume spikes during busy times of the year. With end-to-end automation, there are little chances of manual error. Hence, it reduced weight-related issues and lesser return orders. Moreover, the seller gets to provide faster delivery to their customer and do all of this at a nominal price, with no lock-in period.
  • Shiprocket also offers intra-city speedy delivery through Shiprocket Saral. Shiprocket Saral is a hyperlocal delivery aggregator, providing the services of expert hyperlocal partners such as Dunzo, Shadowfax, and Wefast within a distance radius of 50 km. This service can be availed in a cost-effective manner, where the merchant gets to offer several payment modes to the customer and provide order tracking for greater transparency.
  • All of their offerings aim to make the merchants’ online selling experience as seamless as possible. By making the best use of AI and data, Shiprocket helps to provide maximum cost efficiency per shipment. It helps their sellers’ ventures to remain lucrative and perpetually head toward expansion.

Shiprocket - Founders & Team

Saahil Goel, CEO & Co-Founder, Shiprocket

  • Saahil is an MBA and MS from the University of Pittsburgh (USA).
  • He started his career as a Business Analyst at Max Life Insurance. After this, he started working as a Technology and Process Consultant for SDLC Partners (with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield). He was also a part of the founder's teams of Kasper Consulting.
  • Role in Shiprocket - Saahil Goel is fondly referred to as the de-facto CPO, given his passion for products, growth hacking. and technology. His chief responsibilities include questioning everything that impacts the business, breaking existing barriers and practicing and developing unconventional solutions from the ground up. Along with the overall management of the company, he actively heads product strategy, user experience and growth initiatives.

Gautam Kapoor, COO & Co-Founder, Shiprocket

  • Received his BBA in Business from Western International University (USA).
  • Previously was a part of his family business in industrial products import and distribution and worked with several renowned German engineering brands such as Bosch and Sick.
  • Role in Shiprocket - Gautam is at the helm of running logistics execution, operations and end to end strategy. As the co-founder, he helps define the culture and vision of the company.
Gautam and I are childhood friends, but we were working in different industries back then. I was working with Max Life Insurance as a Business Analyst, whereas Gautam, coming from an operational and commercial background, was working in the industrial automation sector.
- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

Vishesh Khurana, Head of Growth & Co-Founder, Shiprocket

  • Received his BBA with a specialization in Marketing from Amity Business School.
  • Previously worked in the capacity of COO and Founder at Mobiz Infotech Pvt. Ltd. and successfully exited his first startup, following an ‘all-cash’ acquisition.
  • Role in Shiprocket - Vishesh is actively involved in overseeing seller acquisition for the platform. He is driven to empower India’s burgeoning small and mid-sized merchants by providing a go-to destination for them to launch and manage their business online.
Vishesh joined us 6 months into the company. He was trying to bring business to us as a consultant, and we immediately recognized him as a brilliant salesperson. We wanted to work with him as a team, so we asked him to start selling for us, instead of selling for other people. And that’s how we went from 2 co-founders to 3.
- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

Akshay Ghulati, CBO & Co-Founder, Shiprocket

  • A graduate from Wharton Business School in Economics, Akshay also received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
  • Previously, has worked with renowned eCommerce and technology companies like Amazon, AT Kearney and Parthenon Group.
  • Served as the senior manager for the PAN-Europe marketplace at Amazon.
  • Role in Shiprocket - Akshay Ghulati leads strategy, marketing, and customer success teams at Shiprocket. His focus is on executing the brand’s vision to make Shiprocket India’s leading fulfillment technology platform for SMEs.
Akshay Ghulati had joined Shiprocket in early 2016 as the Chief Business Officer. Over the years, we could see him truly demonstrating a founder mindset by committing to build Shiprocket into India’s leading logistics platform, right from the start.  His persistent dedication and a high level of ownership towards projects resulted in him being elevated to Co-Founder's status.
- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

Current Company Size - Currently, Shiprocket has 442 people working including all the departments globally.

Work Culture - All of Shiprocket’s teams are currently working remotely. And they know that in a remote setup where technology is all they have to connect with each other and get things done, it can be challenging to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Hence, besides the commitment towards office hours, all of their teams are encouraged to give ample time to their personal lives, as well. Also, sometimes, one may feel a bit secluded when not actively working from the office with colleagues. However, their Human Resources department always provides something to look forward to during the week. Especially in the times of COVID-19, they're sticking together like a team through engaging virtual sessions like group meditation, talent showcase, Zumba, sit-down comedy, home fitness sessions and more.

Hiring Funda - When hiring for any team, Shiprocket ensures that the candidate must synchronously fit with the organization’s working culture. Besides analyzing their skills, education and experience for a particular role, they also examine their ability and willingness to grow with the company, and whether they are adequately aligned with the vision of the company.

Shiprocket visions to move their merchant's business in the up direction with a high velocity, just like a rocket do. Hence, the name Shiprocket came to fruition.

Shiprocket - Business Model and Revenue Model

Shiprocket's metrics, shipments, revenue, and monthly active merchants have almost 3Xed on a year on year basis. Their brand is recognized for its lowest shipping rates, where domestic shipping starts at as low as Rs. 22/500 gms.

They earn their revenue on every shipment that goes through their network and from subscription license fees. Also, other value-added technology services that the merchants avail from them such as warehousing and fulfillment, packaging, fintech, etc. adds to their revenue.

Shiprocket - Launching

While launching Shiprocket, Saahil and other co-founders faced many problems. Saahil describes his journey as follow:

When I flew back to India from the USA, I had a very demotivating recruitment experience. Finally, I realized that I couldn’t be working on our idea on a part-time basis. I had to move back to India once and for all and give all of my time and hard work into making it a success. So that’s what I did!

When I came back to India, we bootstrapped our company, spent about 20 days connecting with a few friends and talking to contacts that could help us get engineers to build the product. The thing that worked for us was that we somewhat had a clear idea of what we wanted. We had already started talking to the customers. I was building the initial few websites myself, and that would bring in enough money to pay for rent, our team’s salaries and other utilities, but it wasn’t scalable, as such. We were doing custom work back then, but it was essential to fund our actual product build.

A year later, we had a very localized, highly functional product on our hands, comprising a shopping cart and we saw some success with it, as well. Finally, we had our first 100 merchants on the platform, which was a big deal for us! And the fact that at least 100 people were using our services gave us immense hope.  

- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

Shiprocket - Growth

The challenges you face in the 100 to 10000 customers journey are very different and require a different mindset and approach. For Shiprocket, the best hack has been to always hire the best people who can help solve these problems at scale. Moreover, they keep their employees always motivated to extract the best results out of their efforts.

As founders, we still have our ear to the ground, but we have to make sure that we have the best people to solve the operational challenges as we take on more strategic roles.
- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

Shiprocket - Challenges

The operation during the pandemic has been the biggest challenge for the company in recent times. Since the beginning, they have had a strong office-based work culture. And since they operate out of a single office in Delhi, the team was not prepared for a WFH culture with their employees spread across the country.

Shiprocket almost doubled its team strength during the pandemic. However, it has been a significant challenge for them to hire and onboard so many new people without any physical interaction.

Also, the lack of working in a physical space makes it more challenging for their new hires to understand the company culture and develop a bonding with their colleagues. Nevertheless, they have worked hard to create an environment where the employees can digitally interact.

When Shiprocket was launched, their shopping cart product was for the MSME market in India. They  predicted it as it was trending in the west. However, they later realized that here, the market was quite different and demanded products that came with pure convenience.

2 years of working into the venture, we recognized that the B2B market in India does not work conventionally. For instance, our target market will not read a formal manual or anything like that - it wasn’t that simple. Also, the other thing we identified was that our target audience was more interested in making use of our shipping services and the post-order experience tools, rather than getting the website. Around 30% of our users were buying the shopping cart so that they could use our shipping services!
- Saahil Goel, Co-Founder of  Shiprocket

For the first 2 years, the company experimented with different features and marketing techniques. However, they found their direction to take Shiprocket to.

Shiprocket - Marketing

The marketing campaigns at Shiprocket are designed to add value to businesses of all sizes, particularly Direct to Consumer brands. Their brand marketing strategy is inclined towards addressing the pain points of the target market, instead of focusing on the promotion of the product solely.

Moreover, to enable proper dissemination of campaigns at a regional level, a lot of their efforts are put into designing vernacular content that finds its due space in the lives of their audiences. It consequently helps them to enable the growth and expansion of their business. This way, they accomplish customer acquisition and retention at a greater level.  

Shiprocket - Future Plans

Shiprocket’s head office is based in New Delhi. Their undertaking, Shiprocket Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment and warehousing solution for small and medium sellers, has its storage hubs actively operating across 5 major cities: Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

  • FY20 Revenue of Shiprocket: 167 Cr.
  • FY21 Estimated Revenue of Shiprocket: 420 Cr.
  • GMV: USD 500M annually

The brand is witnessing a growth of 3X year on year.

Some of Shiprocket's notable clients include Dr. Vaidya’s, MamaEarth, Gilette, BoAt, mCaffeine, Nappa Dori, Relaxo, Proline, The Beer Cafe, Bira, Bodycare, Da Milano, Cureveda, and more.

Future Plans of Shiprocket - Shiprocket has already expanded into associated sectors of fulfillment such as hyperlocal delivery, warehousing and packaging in 2020. In 2021, the company is planning to provide more services to their merchants around hyperlocal deliveries, customer care and lending. These are all part of a holistic strategy to make Shiprocket a one-stop solution for eCommerce fulfillment.

Moreover, they are planning to begin expanding internationally in 2021 with a short-term focus on regional expansion. Shiprocket is hiring dedicated teams for this and expects their international business to be a significant contributor to the brand’s growth in the coming years. As of now, they've touched 85,000+ sellers, and their vision is to extend to 250K over the next 2-3 years.

Shiprocket - Funding

Date

Stage

Amount

Investors Name

2014

Series A

$1M

Nirvana Ventures, 500 Startups

2016

Series B

$8M

Nirvana Ventures, Bertelsmann India Investments, Beenext, 500 Startups

2018

Series B

$4M

Nirvana Ventures, Beenext, Bertelsmann India Investments

2020

Series C

$13M

Tribe Capital LLC, Innoven Capital, Bertelsmann India Investments

Shiprocket - Advisors and Mentors

The investors of Shiprocket play an important role in mentoring them through the startup journey.

Key mentors of Shiprocket are:

  • Pankaj Makkar from Bertelsmann India Investments,
  • Rajan Mehra from Nirvana Ventures,
  • Arjun Sethi from Tribe Capital  
  • Teruhide Sato from Beenext

Shiprocket - Tools

Shiprocket uses the software made by their own teams to ensure the smooth flow of organization's day-to-day functions.

Shiprocket - Recognition and Achievements

Shiprocket was recently awarded the BW Businessworld Techtors Award for 'Top Tech Companies to Watch Out for' Under the "Aggregator/Listing" category.

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