Inspiration: Do Things That Don't Scale

How To Take On A Task That’s Really Freakin Big

A feature post from our #COO Rhenee Bartlett.

Kelly and I are obsessed with podcasts. We’re constantly sharing the inspiring stories we hear with each other. In one of our first few months, I listed to the How to Start a Startup episode entitled How to Get Started, Doing Things that Don't Scale and I remember it having a real impact on how I was thinking about what we were doing then… and even now, for what we’re still doing today.


Building a startup is all about testing a bunch of theories and figuring out what sticks.  Literally you sometimes feel like you’re blindfolded, drunk, in a clown car trying to pin the tail on a moving donkey.  Testing theories can require a lot or a little from you. They can take a really long time. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can find an answer quicker than expected.  There are also usually about 1,000 other things that you’re taking into consideration along the way. Pretty much all of these things involve doing things that don’t scale.  

Literally you sometimes feel like you’re blindfolded, drunk, in a clown car trying to pin the tail on a moving donkey.  

We want to be real and share with you what’s it really like as a founder.  For a very real ‘peek behind the curtain’ to some of the not so fun things you might do as a founder, I wanted to share a practical piece of our start up with you.  Also, for the record, I’m hoping to employ one of these guys to take over this task soon...


Introducing our: SHIPPING HOW TO

Or more appropriately: SHIPPING HOW TO SOP _ GSO _ AUGUST 2018

I wrote this SOP back in August with the fear that if I ever got hit by a bus no one would know how to use our systems to ship our bouquets!   I’ll attach a real document at the end for you, but here’s my favorite version..

Overview Shipping Process

This document provides an overview of the flower shipping process to customers. Each section includes detailed step by step instructions. Complete in the following order:

1. Open Shopify                                                          

2. Click on Orders tab in top left corner, under Home

3. Sort orders by ‘open orders’

4. Click Export button, top left corner

5. Choose ‘orders that match search’ and ‘plain CSV’ *this format is important in order to correctly sort

6. zipcodes

7. File will download, Open file

8. Sort by column “Lineitem Name” ~ line item name means product name

9. Delete hand deliveries and extra ticket items like Wine & Design or other payments

10. Sort by reference #

11. Next, go to column “Company Shipping Name”, copy and paste name into any blank cells of “Shipping Name” Columns. -

12. Note if there is already a name in the Shipping Name Column do not copy company name. This is only for blank cells.

13. Save file without spaces or special characters (Ex:PetalfoxOrdersShipDate82018) - use actual ship date

14. Save as CSV (not numbers or xls file)

15. Move file to USB drive and then eject USB from computer

YUP - there is a USB involved and separate computer involved


15. Print Labels - Ship GSO (DELL laptop)

16. Laptop Password: Nope not sharing that!

17. Open ShipGSO program - icon in middle of the desktop

18. Click Prepare Batch tab

19. Select Batch Name: GSO

20. Click File Name …

21. Change default to All Files for type

22. Find and open file on USB drive

23. Select Signature: ‘Not Required’ (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT)

24. Click start (labels should print)

25. Review any ‘mapping exceptions’ (printing errors)

26. Correct information and press ‘save’ to print

27. Note: you may need to google to get the correct city / zip combination - if unsure, please email customer to confirm

28. Note: The first exception should be the header row and can be cleared after all exceptions pushed through, double check

29. Use ShipStation for order summary organization & gift messages

30. Skip orders in Shipstation if order is being paused or skipped until following week

31. Log into ShipStation

32. Check with Rhenee for any Fedex orders

33. Click ORDERS tab and hit the refresh symbol in the top right hand corner → update all stores in order to update current status of orders

34. Sort by ‘date ordered’

35. Download a PDF of each order type summary and Print

36. Check quantity #’s of order

37. Organize shipping labels in order based on reference # to streamline matching with Order Summary order & products

38. Select quote for cards - track in google doc

39. Use order summaries to write handwritten notes in order (create stacks as you go card / label, card / label)

40. Buyer comments will include the custom gift message

41. Only write the custom gift message on the first shipment - you will delete the gift notes in Recharge later so they don’t push through on future orders

42. Create Tracking Report

43. Open ShipGSO

44. Click ‘File’

45. Click ‘Shipment History’

46. Select correct shipping date - should be same day as labels are printed

47. Select ‘GSO’ ‘Export Mapping’

48. Select USB drive for ‘Directory’ (…)

49. Adjust File Name (Ex PetalfoxTracking82018) - ship date

50. Drag tracking file to USB and Click ‘Export’

51. Hide all columns except, Tracking #, Ship to Attention, State Column,Shipment Reference, Ship to Company Name - this will help streamline

52. Sort by State and then Alphabetize by name

53. Print

54. Add tracking info to Shopify

55. One by one add the tracking number to each order

56. Scroll down and open first Order

57. Attach tracking numbers from tracking file to corresponding orders in Shopify:

58. Open Order

59. Click ‘Mark as fulfilled’

60. Copy and paste tracking number

61. Shipping carrier, select: other

62. Type in Tracking URL:

63. Click Fulfill items

64. Repeat for each shipment

65. When finished with an order go back to tracking file and highlight tracking number cell in yellow to confirm it is complete


66. Save Documents - Google Drive GSO Folder

67. Save order export file to: drag file from USB to ‘GSO Orders to Ship’ folder

68. Save tracking information file to: ‘GSO Tracking’ folder

69. Complete ‘weekly shipment tracker’ form in order summaries folder at Rhenee’s desk

70. File printed paperwork

71. Ship Station Clearing

72. Check all orders that were shipped

73. Click Other Actions and select Mark as Shipped

74. Leave tracking blank

75. Choose ‘Other’ for carrier

76. Leave Notify customer and marketplace UN-checked

77. Clear Gift Messages

78. Find customers with custom gift messages and delete recurring message

79. Look for ‘buyer comments’

80. The ‘Auto Renew’ or ‘Prepaid’ information under an order indicates it is a subscription

81. Click on Apps

82. Click on Recharge Recurring Billing & Subscriptions

83. Click on Customers

84. Search for Customer Name

85. If customer not found then look up order in shopify to find shipper name

86. Click on subscription # in blue

87. Expand Additional Info & Setting

88. Click Edit Cart Note

89. Delete ShopifyCartToken and/or gift message

90. Save


91. Using printed document of tracking numbers

92. Cross off delivered packages as delivery notices are received

93. For attempted deliveries:

94. Email GSO customer service with request to redeliver today and customer contact information

95. Reach out to customer to provide update and ask for any information GSO may be missing (business hours, security gate code, etc).

96. Late or missing deliveries:

97. Request shipping cost credit via email

98. Request GSO to send claim packet for declared value

99. Confirm all shipments delivered

100. File tracking documents in folder at Rhenee’s desk

And we’re done! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽


For those of you that are actually still reading, I’m impressed.  For those of you that just scrolled through shaking your head with your jaw gaping open, good choice.  

To answer the burning question in the back of your mind, yes, we’re still doing this.  But the end is in sight thanks to our friends at Ship Junction.  In June, we decided we weren’t ready for them just yet, so round and round we went with 10 - 20 other possibilities. We’ve learned a lot along the way and ultimately decided this was the best solution for us now and in the future.  

It’s ok to do things that don’t scale!


💘 Rhenee

We’d love to hear about your favorite podcasts so share them with us! Two of my personal favorite are the NPR podcast:

  1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

  2. How to Start a Startup from Sam Altman with Y Combinator (These originated as a Stanford Business School lecture series and you can watch it on YouTube, too!)