ShipStation Relies on Recurly to Deliver Subscription Scalability

Overview

A plethora of businesses sell their goods on sites like Amazon and eBay and then ship them via carriers such as FedEx and USPS. But how do these businesses pull together all those orders and shipping labels without it becoming pandemonium? They turn to ShipStation to aggregate their orders and automatically generate shipping labels to ensure they deliver the right package to the right customer, every time.  

ShipStation provides web-based software designed to make e-commerce retailers “exceptionally efficient at processing, fulfilling, and shipping their orders from all the most popular marketplaces and shopping carts, using all the top carriers.”

Founded in 2011 and based in Austin, TX, ShipStation relies on the subscription model to provide its service to its customers.

What is now ShipStation actually began as a shipping app called Auctane, that was developed within eBay’s ecosystem and leveraged their native billing and subscription management features—and it proved to be very successful. This success is what drove the company’s decision to expand beyond eBay with a standalone, multi-marketplace shipping app. 

Build vs. Buy? Answer: Buy.

In considering this strategy, ShipStation quickly realized that a homegrown subscription management solution would take too long to develop. In order to get to market quickly, they knew they needed a dedicated solution. Buying rather than building would let them quickly establish a presence in the greater market and expend their energy and resources on expanding their business. 

Keith McGill, Director of IT for ShipStation says, “Recurly gives us peace of mind knowing that our billing is taken care of efficiently and accurately. This lets us focus our energy on our product—our core business—which ultimately makes us more competitive. In fact, this is the same point we make about our own product: that it allows our customers to focus on their business and the things they should be doing to grow the business rather than having to worry about the details around shipping.”

As well, in partnering with Recurly, ShipStation doesn’t have to worry about PCI compliance and all the other, sometimes very labor-intensive compliance requirements that developing your own subscription billing and management platform entails.

Recurly gives us peace of mind knowing that our billing is taken care of efficiently and accurately.

Keith McGill,  Director of IT

Proactively Identifying Issues

Beyond the mere nuts and bolts of billing—which is actually a quite complex process—Recurly and its teams take notice of any unusual activity and will proactively investigate before a full-blown issue erupts. For example, ShipStation began to hit its rate limit for API calls, and this spike seemed unusual. Recurly suggested an integration audit which allowed the Recurly team to identify several areas where ShipStation could make improvements in terms of how things were set up. This created efficiencies and reduced the number of API calls.

Says McGill, “It was really helpful to us to have the Recurly team identify problems that we weren’t aware of and then proactively provide us a road map for how we could improve upon those things.”

Exceptional Support

McGills reflects on these improvements, noting that they worked with their dedicated Customer Success Manager to enable some of the more advanced tools that Recurly offers. “It ended up being a win-win for us. We made some necessary changes on our side, and Recurly helped us to make some key changes to our account, including upgrading to the Elite plan to get the additional features we needed,” reports McGill. “The team at Recurly has always been incredibly helpful and responsive.”

It was really helpful to us to have the Recurly team identify problems that we weren’t aware of and then proactively provide us a road map for how we could improve upon those things.

Keith McGill,,  Director of IT

Streamlined Reporting With Gateway Routing

As a subscription service themselves, ShipStation understands the importance of providing exceptional customer service. Recently, to better serve their customers, ShipStation has developed a more customizable solution, called ShipEngine, which is primarily an API-based product for merchants that want to adjust their out-of-the-box settings to better meet their business’ particular needs.

In order to separate out the revenue and other data between these two lines of businesses, ShipStation is planning to take advantage of Recurly’s gateway routing feature. Using a different gateway for different lines of business (or other criteria such as different payment attributes) makes the reporting on and analysis of each product’s result much easier.

Measuring Results

Of course, anytime a business rolls out a new product or service, it’s important to track and analyze the results, and iterate where possible. ShipStation relies on a number of Recurly’s analytic reports which they use for internal reporting, to monitor recurring revenue and other metrics, and as a measure of how well the product—and the company overall—is performing.

Recurly does exactly what we need it to do, providing the features we need and maintaining the platform, so we can focus on our core business.

Keith McGill,,  Director of IT

Streamlined Billing and So Much More

ShipStation recognizes the value of letting Recurly handle all aspects of their recurring billing. Notes McGill, “Recurly does exactly what we need it to do, providing the features we need and maintaining the platform, so we can focus on our core business.”

But beyond streamlining the complexity of subscription management, McGill appreciates the extent to which Recurly has been a partner to ShipStation’s success. “Recurly has grown right along with us as we’ve grown—from 4,000 customers when I started to over 68,000. Recurly has been right there every step of the way. You don’t get that experience with everyone, so you really appreciate it when you do find a company you can rely on.”

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