A Lesson from Shipt

Tomorrow, the greater Nashville area will welcome a new service to its community. Residents of Gallatin, Hendersonville, La Vergne, Mt. Juliet, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station will have the ability to order groceries online for same-day delivery. And the company that’s making it all possible?

Shipt is the brainchild of Bill Smith, a seasoned entrepreneur and local of Birmingham, Alabama. Smith founded Shipt in the Steel City in 2014. The service originally offered same-day delivery for retailers like Target, Best Buy, and The Home Depot.

But shortly after Shipt’s launch, Smith received some interesting feedback. “During that period,” he explains, “customers were saying, ‘We really want you to deliver groceries.’” So Smith listened to the idea and tested it, and the business was completely transformed. Shipt dropped their retail delivery service altogether and began delivering groceries exclusively.

Like any good entrepreneur, Smith has made sure that in all his ventures, customer demand is being met—even if it means he has to pivot. “Our customers inform nearly everything that we develop and implement…” he says. “It’s an approach that requires our team to closely monitor all communications channels, and provide rapid responses to feedback and suggestions.” Our customers inform nearly everything that we develop and implement.
Of course, this isn’t Smith’s first rodeo. As owner of Insight Card Services, which was acquired by Green Dot Corporation in 2014, he followed the same customer-driven strategy. But when asked how Shipt differs from his previous entrepreneurial endeavors, he says, “I’m proud of my past entrepreneurial efforts, but nothing compares to my experience with Shipt. Every day I have the pleasure of working with an incredible team that is building an experience that didn’t exist before Shipt. Shipt is laser-focused on listening to customer demand and aggressively innovating on a daily basis. My past businesses were customer-focused as well, and that has always worked very well.”

Shipt continues to encourage customer feedback, even offering a live chat support on their site. They also encourage residents outside Shipt’s current service areas to sign up for a launch alert, which measures demand in specific cities and alerts potential customers when their services become available in their area.

In 2015, Shipt set a goal to reach 100 cities in three years. At 23 cities and counting, Smith says they’re on track to reach that goal. But it does come with its share of challenges. “The number one challenge?” he says, “Finding talented people who move extremely fast and care deeply about our customers.”
Images provided by Shipt

Listening to Your Customer: A Lesson from Shipt