AfterShip, the package tracking platform for small e-commerce merchants that we profiled back in January, is leaving beta mode today and launching to the public. The Hong Kong-based startup also debuted an easy-to-use Track Button widget for vendors that don’t want to deal with an API. By inserting a simple short code (like the one for Facebook Like button plugins), an AfterShip Track button will appear next to tracking numbers on an e-commerce site and allow customers to view delivery information without leaving the page.
AfterShip gives small merchants the same kind of tools as e-commerce giants like Amazon. For example, its API and Track Button plugin allow customers to track shipments through 85 carriers directly on an e-commerce Web site, increasing the amount of time they spend there. Merchants can use AfterShip to enhance customer service by setting automatic SMS notifications to let buyers know when a shipment is delayed or arrives so they remember to leave feedback on e-commerce sites like eBay.
The platform also includes analytics that let vendors compare the performance of different carriers.
“UPS may say that shipments arrive in two days, but nobody knows if that is really true,” says Chan. “We give power back to merchants to audit all shipments and see if they are really delivered on time.”
Since its private beta launch in March 2012, AfterShip has tracked over one million packages. About 60% of AfterShip’s 4,000 clients are in the U.S., while most of the remaining 40% are based in Hong Kong or mainland China. Chan says most of AfterShip’s users are smaller merchants who sell high value merchandise like electronics, custom-made items or even gold bars. The startup plans to scale up by targeting more merchants in China and Latin America and Chan says AfterShip’s platform will eventually be able to perform automatic translations.
In addition to service and design upgrades for its public launch, AfterShip has retooled its pricing tier to attract more small vendors. Users can track packages for free, while premium accounts include features like automatic notifications, the ability to export shipments in a .CSV file and AfterShip’s API.