SalesTechStar Interview with Andrew Chan, CMO and Cofounder at AfterShip
Andrew Chan, CMO and Cofounder at AfterShip chats about the evolution of the AfterShip platform in this catch-up:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Andrew, tell us more about yourself and what inspired AfterShip?
Teddy (AfterShip’s other co-founder) and I launched our startup AfterShip in Hong Kong back in 2012 at Startup Weekend, which is a 54-hour hackathon startup competition. Amazingly, we won the Hong Kong competition, and later went on to become the global winner. This helped set up our first meeting with our first angel investor in Singapore. No one else at the competition focused on software because they thought it was boring, but we loved it! Since then, during the last decade AfterShip has reached 250+ employees across five countries, serving more than 13,000 customers worldwide, like Gymshark, Kylie Cosmetics, Murad, and more.
Before starting AfterShip, Teddy used his engineering background to build an automated tracking system for his online store because he wanted to reduce customer enquiries and improve satisfaction. This became the prototype for AfterShip. The “eureka” moment for Teddy was simple: once he launched his tracking system, he reduced customer enquiries by 50%. What a success from the start!
I worked in many different industries before launching AfterShip. I was an IT consultant, and I also did work in communications and digital marketing, as well as running another ecommerce business. While my earlier jobs seemed random and disconnected at the time, they taught me so many lessons that enabled me to excel at what I do now at AfterShip, including product management, design, marketing, and sales.
How has the platform evolved over the years? While developing newer enhancements, how have you aligned industry needs and customer needs to a product roadmap up to now?
At first, we were simply a tracking platform. Now we’ve grown into a one-stop-shop for all post-purchase online retailer needs. Our tools, including AfterShip Estimated Delivery Date (providing more accurate delivery time/date information than the carriers themselves provide), On-Time Report (giving online retailers a look at which carriers are performing best for them), Premium Tracking (for alcohol deliveries that need to be signed for by someone 21+ years old), Carbon Emissions Report (to track online retailer CO2 emissions over time), and Returns Center (helping online retailers reduce returns and/or turn them into upsells or exchanges), all provide an important, data-centric view into the post-purchase process, and help retailers update and optimize their systems in real time.
What are some of the most prominent in-demand capabilities being expected in the market as providers/sellers try to align better to what their customers want while delivering enhanced customer experiences?
Many businesses are focused on customer acquisition and advertising rather than what happens after the purchase. However, that brand experience is put to test after clicking the “buy” button, when customer touchpoints like customer support, delivery, promised on time delivery, lost packages, and returns kick in. All of these touchpoints add up to impact whether customers want to shop at a particular online retailer again.
Therefore, we have a suite of automation tools that set our merchants up for success. For example, our Returns Center product is hugely popular since arriving in the Shopify App Store in 2017. More than 3,600 merchants rely on it for up to date returns information, enabling the growth of thousands of Shopify merchants by providing a range of features that help merchants automate and optimize their return processes. Moreover, Returns Center recently joined the Shopify Plus Certified App Program. Shopify recognizes us as one of its trusted solutions to optimize their returns strategy. This encouraging news means that we’ve done something right in the post-purchase experience.
Additionally, we’re very excited about our new partnership with Wineshipping, which solves a huge problem around alcohol shipments. Wineshipping’s “Premium Tracking,” made possible with our proprietary technology, includes four key features that allow Wineshipping’s winery clients to succeed in last-mile delivery, which is plagued by a 3% failed delivery rate because an of-age person must sign for the package to receive the wine. The Premium Tracking product features shipment visibility, branded tracking pages, shipment notifications, and shipping performance analytics. It enables merchants to easily track shipments, communicate proactively with shoppers through email or SMS, and use co-branded or personalized tracking pages to engage with shoppers to drive revenue, build customer loyalty, and reduce returns.
In what ways do you feel ecommerce as a segment will evolve over the years?
The pandemic caused a huge boom in ecommerce sales in a very short period of time. Essentially, online retail evolved 10 years in two months. Now that most retailers have set up shop online if they were not there before, the next few years will be spent optimizing the entire experience. What we’ve seen is that retailers are especially keen to improve their post-purchase experience — essentially everything that happens after the customer clicks the “buy” button. Because the cost of customer acquisition has skyrocketed, retailers now need to implement customer retention strategies to better increase loyalty and repeat business, instead of relying heavily on new customers to boost their bottom line. We’ve found that 80% of customers have been willing to try a new retailer during the last six months, so if an online store is providing a poor experience, they can say goodbye to repeat sales.
Please share a few thoughts on the top trends you feel will shape online marketplaces through this year…
We think the post-purchase experience will continue to improve. Younger generations, i.e. millennials and Gen Z, are much more savvy online shoppers who will demand that their favorite brands focus on sustainability and quality, while also expecting to be well taken care of throughout the shopping experience. Additionally, because shipping is so unreliable due to the supply chain issues the world is experiencing right now, ecommerce retailers will adapt to providing better on-time notifications and proactive customer communications. This reduces strain on customer service teams, who can deal with fewer WISMO (Where Is My Order?) requests and focus more on proactive customer service. All of these improvements will help ecommerce retailers retain customers and brand awareness, leading to more sales.
Any last thoughts, takeaways, etc before we wrap up?
Time flies, we have been running the company for a decade now. It has been a rollercoaster ride starting with just Teddy and me to today: a company of 400 people serving more than 13,000 customers around the world. It’s fascinating what happens when like-minded people start working together. Going forward, we will continue our efforts in understanding the pain-points of our customers and develop user-oriented tools to empower their engagement with consumers.
AfterShip offers branded shipment tracking, notifications, returns, and exchanges, leading to increased sales and fewer WISMO tickets. Integrating with 930+ carriers worldwide, AfterShip is the solution of choice for multinational organizations or those looking to grow internationally.
Andrew Chan is Co-Founder and CMO at post-purchase platform AfterShip. Andrew has 10+ years of SaaS product development experience. He manages the product manager, sales, and marketing teams. He founded AfterShip in 2012. The company helps businesses improve consumer experience, increase revenue, and build brand loyalty. With 10,000+ customers, AfterShip is used by leading marketplaces including eBay, Wish, and Etsy, as well as brands including Gymshark, Kylie Cosmetics, Murad, and Kate Sommervile.
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