During the last several months, eCommerce sellers from across the United States have shared their worst shipping and order fulfillment stories as part of the “Oh Ship!” Moments contest. After receiving over 400 submissions, Rakuten Super Logistics selected three businesses to receive $7,000 in prize money. Here are the winners.
$5,000 Grand Prize Winner: Shutter Bombs
Kyle G., CEO of Shutter Bombs, submitted his biggest shipping nightmare during the contest period and was awarded the $5,000 grand prize. Here’s his story:
“I founded my company Shutter Bombs as a junior in college and had no idea what I was getting myself into. We began selling a collection of our professional-grade smoke bombs. When orders started to roll in, I just put them in boxes, used Shopify’s label buying system, then I’d drive them down to the post office. Since all of our competitors also shipped using USPS, we thought this was the ideal method.
One day, after having fulfilled many customer requests, I received a cease and desist from USPS for illegally shipping nearly 800 orders! USPS stated they could claim millions in damages for our error. As a result, I had to refund around $5k in orders and put the proper infrastructure in place to ship our products legally. Receiving a cease and desist from USPS at age 21 was definitely an “Oh Ship!” moment!”
Today, Kyle is still successfully running Shutter Bombs and has not experienced anymore shipping nightmares like this.
$1,000 Prize Winners: CardLords and Tangerine Mountain
Two additional winners were selected as part of the “Oh Ship!” moments contest and awarded $1,000 each for their shipping fiascos. Here are the winners and their award-winning stories:
Tucker S. of CardLords submitted this horrific “Oh Ship!” moment about how a shipment of his product was held hostage. Here’s the story he shared:
“I design and publish board games and card games. We made one called Take the Gold. The printing and production went great, but our “Oh Ship!” moment came while importing our pallets of games.
Our entire container load was held up multiple times by all sorts of inspections, testing and endless hassles because the importers and people at customs marked the order paperwork as "Taken Gold" instead of "Take the Gold.” As you can imagine, a boat carrying "Taken Gold" raises a few flags. As a result, we had to delay shipments almost three months in order to sort out that we were shipping card games and not in fact stolen bars of gold. I've since started labeling shipments a bit differently!”
Tucker and his team have learned from this horrific shipping moment and continue to successfully grow their business.
Cheryl S., CEO of Tangerine Mountain, shared her shipping fiasco that ended with her clothing shipment mislabeled and held up at customs. Here’s the story she shared.
“I import traditional Japanese clothing, like kimono and obi, and I travel the USA selling them. We’ve experienced several shipping disasters in our short six years, but our fiasco last year was by far the most memorable.
Last year, I negotiated a shipping contract with a freight forwarder that has been in the biz longer than I've been alive. However, this relationship was the reason for our “Oh Ship!” moment. Not only did the forwarder's agents NOT read the SOP I had signed off on, but they completely ignored HTS codes, declarations, and even the 100+ photos of the contents of my shipments. Instead, they saw the name of my company and promptly forwarded my 3000 lbs of silk kimono and obi straight to the CDC, assuming I was importing fruit without the proper paperwork and certifications.
After three weeks of shipping delay notices and unanswered phone calls and emails, no one at the freight forwarder could explain what happened. Eventually, I received a call from Washington DC. Turns out a very confused agent of the CDC had a whole lot of crates of kimonos and asked if I imported fruit or clothing made of raw or unprocessed fruit fibers used to make the Japanese kimonos. After the agent and I figured out what happened, I got off the phone with him and had a long conversation with my shipping rep. This was the first and last time I used their services.”
Thankfully, Cheryl S. is no longer working with this unreliable shipping partner and continues to reach her customers.
We received hundreds of truly horrific “Oh Ship!” moments from business owners working with the wrong shipping partners and learning to overcome in-house shipping and fulfillment mistakes. You can read more of our “Oh Ship!” moments contest submissions on our blog.
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