The choice is ours

October 30, 2006

The Coming Week

Filed under: The Website — shippingpal @ 10:47 am

What better way to start the workweek than with a kvetch? My current pet peeve – great new web apps that require you to register before you can find out what they do. Seems to me they have it all backwards – show me the usefulness, and then I’ll decide whether to spend my time filling out forms that give you my personal information. Anyway…

It’s a busy week coming up at Shipping Pal as we prepare to roll out our official launch. We’re putting the finishing touches on our coast-to-coast quoting system, courtesy of the good people at UPS and Purolator, as well as building the charity component of the site.

As I’ve mentioned before, community is a big part of what we’re trying to achieve at Shipping Pal, and as the weather here in Toronto gets colder, we all huddle together to keep warm. We’ve partnered with a number of worthwhile charities and will be profit-sharing with them through a pretty interesting initiative we call ‘Handle With Care.’ Full details for the site are still being written up, but essentially all shipments can be coded with the charity the user wishes to support, and we donate a percentage of the value of their shipments to the charity they choose. On top of that, GTA users can give our couriers non-perishable food items for donation to the Daily Bread Food Bank.

It gets better – all participating customers are eligible to win one of 5 great prizes provided by Hammam Spa and Blowfish restaurant, two of the most luxurious and stylish destinations in the city. Details on all of this will be available on the website in the next day or two, so start shipping!

Currently reading: Observer Magazine interview with Tom Waits

Currently hearing: Signs (Badmarsh & Shri)

Currently watching: Dexter (Showtime)

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October 23, 2006

Do we have contact?

Filed under: The Website — shippingpal @ 4:57 pm

I am in the process of refining the contact page for Shipping Pal. We’ve been in beta now for about 5 months, with alpha testers for about a year before that, so we’ve got a pretty good sense of what kind of issues compel our users to reach out to us. These fall under a couple of headings –

1. Getting weird results (or no results) for a shipment query. This usually happens when our users are located in rural areas, or sometimes when the weight of the shipment is really heavy. We try to identify these problems areas and then refine our query strategies to create a solution. Bringing UPS and Purolator on board will eliminate any no-result areas, but that’s another post…

2. People who can’t complete an order. Despite having designed what is, in my opinion, a really simple interface with clear labels and procedures, some people still need assistance in placing an order. We have addressed this problem through developing an online demo, which walks users through the process, and failing that there’s always customer service.

3. General inquiries. I guess it’s quite encouraging that we get a lot of calls from people asking if they can invest in our company (at least 2 or 3 a week!), but unfortunately we can’t split the shares again until our next round of financing.

4. Customer support. Ironically, the smallest percentage of calls relate to shipments our customers have made. I’m pretty proud of this, because it indicates two things. Firstly, that the vast majority of shipments are arriving on time (in fact, many arrive way before time), and secondly that our tracking engine is working effectively.

Currently reading: Naked Conversations (Scoble & Israel)

Currently hearing: Wati (Amadou & Mariam)

Currently watching: Entourage, Season 1 (HBO)

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