SkateXS is small.
The web-only retailer sells small skateboards, has a small operation of one full-time and one part-time employee, and has relatively small sales ($2 million in its three years in operation) compared with web merchants in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000.
But that’s just fine for SkateXS as the company has experienced large growth—the retailer’s sales doubled from 2015 to 2016—and it is profitable to boot, says CEO Bryan Tracey, without revealing specifics.
To date, SkateXS has sold 12,000 skateboards, which start at $115. Shoppers can customize their boards by picking their wheel color and grip tape, or by placing their their names on their boards. The hand-finished skateboards are made for children ages 5-12, though Skate XS also sells boards for adults.
Tracey assembles the boards himself and handles all of the tasks associated with the business, such as managing the website, packaging and shipping. He creates about 10 to 20 boards a day, except around the holiday season when orders jump to 100 to 200 a day, he says. About 15% of orders are placed via Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Top 1000, and the rest come from its own site.
Tracey attributes part of Skate XS’s success to its shipping software, ShippingEasy, because it allows him to keep fulfillment in-house without it taking too much time, he says.
ShippingEasy integrates with SkateXS’s Shopify e-commerce platform. It fills out the shipping labels for each order and uses rules to determine the weight of the package; whether the retailer should deliver the package via UPS Inc., DHL Express or the U.S. Postal Service based on which carrier is the least expensive for SkateXS and the customer; and any information needed for international orders.
Tracey programmed several rules into the shipping tool, such as setting the package weight at 8 pounds if the order contains a helmet and a skateboard. Tracey spends about 10 minutes each day checking the shipping labels, compared with the hours it would take him to do so manually. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says about when he first started his business. “I didn’t understand customs. I had no clue about dimensional weight.” Dimensional weight pricing, often referred to as DIM pricing, bases shipping rates on a package’s external dimensions instead of its weight. In late 2014 and early 2015, UPS and FedEx Corp. began imposing dimensional weight pricing on all ground shipments.
Tracey heard about ShippingEasy via Shopify and has used the program since he started the business in 2014. ShippingEasy charges retailers a monthly fee of $29 to $99 based on order volume.
In all, the shipping program takes less than an hour to setup, Tracey says. He recently launched another e-commerce site that sells handboards, which are small skateboards that kids or adults can play with using their hands, and integrated ShippingEasy into that site in 15 minutes, he says.
In the next year, Tracey looks to expand his business beyond its current organic growth. For example, Tracey says he wants to start running Google Shopping and Amazon ads, and increase SkateXS’s Amazon sales via sell seller-fulfilled Prime. An Amazon seller who qualifies for seller-fulfilled Prime has a blue Prime checkmark next to its products, signaling to shoppers that they can receive free two-day shipping. In order to qualify, a retailer must prove to Amazon that it can deliver orders within two days of receiving them. Many consumers who are members of Amazon’s $99-a-year loyalty program search only for products that are Prime eligible because that guarantees free-two day shipping.
Because each skateboard is made to order, SkateXS does not use Amazon’s Fulfillment By Amazon service, and its products are not listed as Prime eligible on Amazon. Tracey would like to have seller-fulfilled Prime, but he can only guarantee two-day delivery for orders from the West Coast, where he is located. He says he has received inconsistent answers from Amazon about whether he can offer Prime only on orders from certain regions of the U.S., and he has not yet resolved this challenge.
Since the start of 2017, SkateXS’s sales from Amazon have increased to 15% of its sales from 5%, he says. That growth hasn’t come at the expense of sales growth at SkateXS.com, which is why Tracey is eager to increase his Amazon sales.Favorite