Summary: In mid-2019, we selected Shipmonk to be our warehouse and fulfillment partner, giving them the task of shipping our first batch of 250 Kickstarter pre-orders. This turned out to be a costly mistake.
Pros: Shipmonk did ship out our packages and, by all accounts, everyone received the right product.
Cons: (click to jump to section) Shipmonk was unprepared to handle our bulk order, over-charged us for shipping, over-charged us for packaging, over-charged us for fulfillment, charged us for packaging they did not actually use, damaged some product, lost some product, did not send out customer notification emails, did not assign us an account manager, and maxed out our credit card with unauthorized charges.
Shipmonk was unprepared to fulfill our bulk order
Being our first shipment, we were very anxious to have everything lined up ahead of time before sending our inventory to Shipmonk.
Following their documentation, I called Shipmonk in the weeks leading up to our first receiving, to ensure they were prepared to process our bulk order on our anticipated ship date and had enough of the right-sized packaging on hand.
Christian, with whom I spoke, initially sounded very confused about why I was calling. He wasn't sure what documentation I was referring to, and he assured me that once Shipmonk received our inventory that our orders would be fulfilled immediately, just like regular shipments.
What happened in reality was that our product was immediately set aside, packaged over the course of a week, and sent out in all kinds of different packaging (sometimes more than 3x the size of the product).
I would later get an email from Shipmonk's Fulfillment Consultant, Erik, asking that next time I should, "Please make sure you tell your Happiness Engineers what your targeted ship date is. So that the project can be executed in a timely manner and kitted on time."
Shipmonk Over-Charged Us for Shipping
Prior to Shipmonk receiving our inventory, we loaded our orders and product details into the Shipmonk system, allowing us to select our shipping speed on an order-by-order basis and roughly estimate the cost of each shipment. We offer 4 products, all the exact same size, and all weighing less than 1 pound.
Once they were sent, we learned over 25% of our orders would be charged at least double what we were quoted, with 5% of our orders topping $50 in shipping costs (on a sub-1 lb product). One shipment topped $100 in shipping charges.
Overall, our total shipping costs were over 60% higher than what we were quoted, mostly due to the choice of packaging Shipmonk made on our behalf (more on that below).
Shipmonk Over-Charged Us for Packaging
Shipmonk's method of selecting packaging for their customers is to scan each product through a computer system which can determine the dimensions of the product and recommend the most appropriate box size for the product.
In our case, their system accurately measured the dimensions of our product at approx. 9x12x7, or about 800 cubic inches.
Shipmonk's recommended packaging for our product was 18x12x12, or nearly 2600 cubic inches.
That's over three times the size needed and that makes a big difference, in our case, because those large-sized boxes weigh more than our product.
In almost every case where our shipping costs spiked above the quoted amount, it is because the order was packaged in an over-sized box, driving up the shipping weight and subsequent shipping cost.
While we did attempt to make the request ahead of time, Shipmonk does not allow customers to choose their packaging size or provide any sort of guidelines to their fulfillment team.
Shipmonk Over-Charged Us for Fulfillment
On their website, Shipmonk advertises that crowdfunding orders are fulfilled at $2/order, which we confirmed ahead of time prior to signing up with them. At the time of fulfillment, we were charged the ecommerce rate of $2.50/order.
When I brought this up, Fulfillment Consultant Erik told me these orders would be adjusted and that we would see a credit on our next statement. They were not adjusted and we were not credited on any of the next 3 statements we received.
Shipmonk Charged Us for Packaging They Did Not Actually Use
We had one order that was sent to a neighbor of ours. Shipmonk packaged the 8 ounce product in an 18x12x12 box and charged us the subsequent shipping rate (over 3x what we were expecting).
The package that arrived was not 18x12x12 (2600 ci); the box was only 8x8x8 (512 ci), and weighed far less than the charged size, being less than one-fifth the volume.
In other words, the actual shipping cost on the order was much closer to what we were quoted, while we were billed 3 times as much.
When I raised this issue with Shipmonk, they explained that we would receive a "period adjustment" to this order "in just a few days".
"Period adjustments" are made sometimes because, Shipmonk says, they rely on shippers like the US Post Office to report back to them what box size was actually sent and, if there were to be a discrepancy between what was shipped and what was charged, Shipmonk would adjust the order and credit you the difference in price.
Throughout three billing cycles with Shipmonk, we received less than $3 in total "period adjustments." The specific order mentioned above was never adjusted to reflect the actual shipping size or weight.
There is no method of verifying what was sent with the Post Office directly and, if we hadn't received this box personally, we would have never known what was really sent.
Shipmonk Damaged Some Product
We received a customer complaint that their sleeping bag had been wrapped in packaging tape inside the box, leaving a dark sticky residue on the product.
Following Shipmonk's guidelines, I submitted a request for a review of this order, detailing what happened and sending them photos.
There was no confirmation that our request was received. There was no follow up on this issue from anyone at Shipmonk. Looking at the order later on, there was no indication that the request had ever been made and there would be no further communication on this issue.
Shipmonk Lost Some Product
In the course of about four weeks between receiving our initial inventory, shipping out our orders, and sending the leftover inventory to our new warehouse, Shipmonk reported that 3.6% of remaining inventory was unaccounted for and not included in our closing shipment.
Shipmonk's VP of Support, Adam, later explained that "up to 5% shrinkage is considered industry standard."
Shipmonk Did Not Send Out Customer Notification Emails
In the weeks leading up to our first shipment, I reached out to Shipmonk support to configure a notification email to customers when their shipping information was available.
It would be up to 5 days after the shipping information was loaded into the Shipmonk system that customers actually received their tracking emails, after several rounds of follow up with Shipmonk support.
Shipmonk Did Not Assign Us an Account Manager
One selling point during our initial consultations with Shipmonk was the promise of a dedicated account manager, whom they call "Happiness Engineers."
This selling point was made during my phone consultations, and driven home in emails and phone calls once we came on board.
After signing our contract, I received an email from VP of Support Adam explaining that I should soon hear from my "dedicated Happiness Engineer" to give me a tour of our account.
It would take over 12 emails to 4 different members of Shipmonk's staff before someone would explain that we had not been assigned a dedicated account manager, we were not going to be assigned an account manager, and that I should continue to reach out to their support team with questions (which, by this point, were numerous).
When I later brought this up to VP of Support Adam, he explained that "A dedicated Happiness Engineer is scheduled to onboard every account...it doesn't mean that they are dedicated to you for the life of your account."
Shipmonk Maxed Out Our Credit Card With Unauthorized Charges
In configuring our account, we were pre-charged by Shipmonk to fund our account and further authorized Shipmonk to charge our credit card, as needed, in $1000 increments.
On two separate occasions, Shipmonk billed our credit card for several thousands in unnecessary charges, all at once, eventually maxing out our line of credit over just a couple of days.
They would eventually refund the erroneous charges, but not before our main payment account would be frozen, causing a disruption to our daily cashflow.
We do not recommend Shipmonk's warehouse and fulfillment services.