Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Leveling Up Product Management With Ching Pei From EasyPost - Ep. 24

February 14, 2024 | 40:55

In This Episode

When businesses first start out, developing their product is usually a reactive process—and it’s hard to tell which new features make a difference. Ching Pei, VP of product at EasyPost, explains what product managers do to make the development process more proactive and effective.

The role of product teams

Product teams are involved with every part of the business: customer success, sales, marketing, and more. Ching explains how she views product’s role: “I think of product as a center spoke of a wheel, with each of your departments surrounding it. [Product managers are] hearing feedback [from] external customers and internal customers, and it’s their job to come in and prioritize.”

Meeting the logistics industry where it is

If you’re a logistics tech company, you know that the industry is traditionally slow to adopt new, innovative solutions. But product teams still have an opportunity to design technology that makes a difference.

As Ching puts it, “Logistics [technology] is a little bit more tangible [than other types of software] … so you don't always get to push the boundaries of innovation. You have to meet the industry where it is. You may not be the forerunner in innovating and technology, [but] you're bringing in forward-thinking tech to an industry that has traditionally been a laggard in change.” 

How to get customer feedback 

Customers should be involved with product development from day one, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with requests for feedback. Ching’s team finds a balance by “piggybacking off of already existing calls with customer success or support. If support faces an interesting topic, we may say, can I jump on the call with the customer when you explain this?”

“You should never be afraid to let your customers talk to your product team.”



Lori Boyer 00:00 

Welcome back to Unboxing Logistics. I'm Lori Boyer and I am the host of the hottest podcast in logistics. That's what I like to say, Ching. At least in the eyes of my mother. The best podcast. I have the most awesome guests and the most fantastic community in you guys. Love you, love having you here, love having you participate.

Today, we have a super cool topic. We are going to be talking all things product. Product management. Everything you need to know about making sure that your product is what your audience wants and is on fire. To do that, I brought in none other than Ching Pei. She is our product guru here at EasyPost, and I want her to tell you all about herself. So Ching, take it away. Tell us your role and a little bit about yourself. 

Ching Pei 01:01 

Absolutely. Hey, everyone. I'm Ching Pei. I'm the VP of product here at EasyPost. I've been here about a year and a half. Previous to that, I started my career in technical sales and have been in the SaaS industry for a long time.

So this is really exciting for me to be here to talk to you all about product management. It is something that, you know, I found a passion in because of my love of customers, what we can do for our customers. And having made that transition from sales into product, it was absolutely the right move for me.

Lori Boyer 01:33

I love, and I had to tell you guys, I was talking to Ching earlier. I love that she has this connection with sales. She has a background in marketing as well as product. Cause I just think that It's so critical and so great for you to really understand who your customers are and know the importance of that.

So we're going to dive into all of that. But before we get going, I want to kind of get to know a little bit more about you. So this season I've been asking all of my guests two questions. Okay. So I'm going to ask you both of them now and then you can answer them. So my first question is, what were you like in high school? And my second question is going to be, if you won the lottery today, how would your life look different, and how would it be the same? So, high school. 

Ching Pei 02:17 

Oh, high school. 

Lori Boyer 02:21 

She can't remember that far. I get it, I get it. Or we're trying to block it out sometimes. 

Ching Pei 02:26 

High school was an awkward stage of life for me. I didn't know really where I was, who I was, what I wanted to do, and I felt like everyone else around me had an idea of that. And, you know, started to pick colleges and understood majors and I was like, ooh, there's like so many things out in the world. Why do I have to do one thing? And so now being in product, it makes a lot more sense because I do like to dabble in just about everything, so. 

Lori Boyer 02:57 

I love that answer. You know, I have been so fascinated asking people this because It runs the full gamut of like, I dropped out of high school and started working at 16, to I was the homecoming queen, to I was the perfect straight A student, to I was a deadhead, to you know, it's like yeah, there's all these amazing successful people.

Yeah, so if we got high schoolers in our audience, you know, it's okay. You don't have to have everything figured out yet. You don't have to have it figured out. I love it. Okay, so if you won the lottery today, how would your life look different, the same? 

Ching Pei 03:33 

I think it would be a little different because, you know, well one, I'd have a lot of money, so I don't know that I would work necessarily.

Lori Boyer 03:43 

Okay, great. So that's the first question. So you'd probably not work.

Ching Pei 03:46 

I'd probably not work to, like for someone else. I probably work for myself and try and figure out how to start a business or run something or take a passion of mine and create something out of it. I don't think I would not work. I'm just not built that way. So I need the stimulation as well.

Lori Boyer 04:05 

I can't lay on the beach just all day. I mean, don't get me wrong, it gets fun sometimes. 

Ching Pei 04:09 

I'd love to say work out four hours a day, but I don't, so that's also not an option of like, work out four hours, sit on the beach four hours. 

Lori Boyer 04:16

So we need an excuse to actually be like, I need to go to work, I can't go to the gym again. Yeah, exactly. I love that. So that's really cool, a little bit of that entrepreneurial spirit there in you. That's awesome. Okay, so before we get started, one thing that's really important to me is that our audience has takeaways. Some things that they can know, like, okay, I've listened to this. What is it I can do today to kind of get things going?

So do you have one or two sort of takeaways? And we can come back and talk about those later. But what are things that you would want our audience to know after they listen, listen today? 

Ching Pei 04:52 

I think the big thing if you. And I come from, my background is in SaaS and tech, right and not so much in logistics And so what's interesting is when you're kind of there like pushing the boundaries of technology, you're really enthralled with the new things that are happening.

I think it's always good to take a deep breath. Understand what the hype is about and then understand how that applies to your business. So for example, the hot topic right now is AI and ML, machine learning. So, yes, those are really great buzzwords, but you really have to understand what the value is that's going to drive for your business and who are the early stage companies that should be looking at those. Are your customers, early adopters, right?

If they're not, something like that would actually hinder your business. Because they would be very hesitant, right, to buy into anything that has AI or ML kind of marketed to it. So, I think it's important to understand what technology can do for your business, but you really have to be careful of, you know, the, the new and great shiny thing that's out there, right?

Lori Boyer 06:03 

I feel like that starts with, like, a really strong understanding of your business and your audience. 

Ching Pei 06:07

And your industry. 

Lori Boyer 06:08 

To start, right? Because I just love that point. We often get sucked in by that new, shiny. You know, I read some study that just putting the word AI into marketing can sometimes get more people to grab, grab, grab. But it's not necessarily what's best long term. 

Ching Pei 06:26

No, and you know, it can also just be a repackaging, right? You may have already done a lot to create AI-like or ML-like services and so now it's just looking at what you've already done and saying okay, actually this is machine learning, right? We've been taking our customer data, helping them analyze it, figure out the trends that are happening, right?

Is it all automated? Maybe not, but you know, we're, we're pretty close to understanding what that looks like. So the hype can be real, depends on your industry, depends on how hard you're trying to push at the forefront. 

Lori Boyer 07:06 

I love that because it is so, so true. You guys, you may be doing AI. I mean, that's what you're saying is that they may already have AI and they just, you don't even recognize it, right? And so that is really insightful. I love that. Thank you. Any other takeaways you have? 

Ching Pei 07:24 

You have to really think about your growth trajectory if you want to bring product to your organization, right? It's not for every business to need a product manager. And that is not what, you know, the product management industry is going to want to hear.

Lori Boyer 07:41 

I know. You're, you're here saying this as a VP of product management. 

Ching Pei 07:44 

If you're a very small startup or you're a couple person shop trying to get your understanding of the customer, your technology, right. You have a very specific vision and you understand your priorities. There might not be a need yet for product, right?

So constantly assessing where you are in your product journey is going to help you determine, do I need my first product management hire, right? Or do I need the practice within my organization? 

Lori Boyer 08:11 

Okay. Absolutely crucial. That's a big point I want to make sure we talk about today is I know a lot of companies that I'll talk to will share, they wouldn't know. You know, I think there's a lot, we do get those small businesses out there, even larger companies where it's hard to figure out at what point do I bring these in?

So that's a point that I'm going to want to, in fact, let's just talk about it right now. So let's say you're a small business, small, mid size, what are some of the signs maybe that you need product management to come in? 

Ching Pei 08:40 

Yeah, it's tough. There's going to be a lot of indicators. So product shouldn't be looked upon as project management, right? I think a lot of times there's some confusion around the room. 

Lori Boyer 08:50 

Okay. Okay. Wait, say it again. 

Ching Pei 08:52 

Product is not project management. 

Lori Boyer 08:54

Product management is not project management. 

Ching Pei 08:59 

Yes. Because, you know, it's not just about how do I get the blocks moving through engineering or development out to market, or when you're developing a physical product, how do I figure out the specs to build that physical product out to market?

What you're really focused on is understanding how that impacts your business, right? It always comes back to customer value. So an indication for you to know whether or not you need a product manager is, you know, we have hundreds of requests coming in from our customers. We are working through them one by one, but don't really have an idea of which ones will actually drive the most value for not only our customer, but also (we're running businesses here) ourselves.

Right. And we're kind of just doing first in first out. But first in, first out isn't working for us now. It's taking a lot of time to get that really big project done. And there's all these little small ones that we could get out the door that could incrementally increase our value if we had just gotten them done.

Lori Boyer 10:06 

Okay. So first in, first out for people who wouldn't understand, that means the first request that comes in from a customer is the first thing you work on. 

Ching Pei 10:12 

Yep. And the first one that you get delivered. 

Lori Boyer 10:14

Okay. And so what you're saying is that you may get request A. But requests B, C, and D are small and easy and may have more value. That's really interesting. 

Ching Pei 10:25 

And then you may have customer expectations that aren't being met. And as hard as your customer success and your sales teams are out there trying to set those boundaries, you know, your development team or your engineering team is feeling the weight of it. Right. And really everything's on fire all the time.

Okay. So those are, it's a combination of those things, right? The value, your engineering team's working a little too hard on things that might not drive that value. And then your customer success team is getting stuck in the middle trying to meet these expectations. That's when you need somebody to come in and kind of say, okay, hang on one second.

Let's talk about what it is that, you know, we're trying to accomplish as a business. What is it going to do for our customers if we work on project A versus project C? And if project C is a one week project that we can get out the door, should we just get it done? Right. 

Lori Boyer 11:22

So how do you balance then? So first of all, I want to summarize, make sure I'm keeping up. So some of the indicators that it may be time for product management is that you are getting a lot of requests from customers for features and additions, things like that, and that your customer success team is struggling. With things are being on fire and there's a little bit of a lack of direction there in what to do.

How do you balance then maybe what is feels like kind of what the company wants to do? So in our case, it would be EasyPost. So how do you balance what EasyPost's goals are with all these customer requests that are coming in? How do you find that balance? 

Ching Pei 12:00 

In that first state, right, you would actually never balance the two. You're always reactive, so it's always what the customer is asking that you're working on. In order for you to get out of that cycle, somebody has to come in and prioritize the work. And look at the ecosystem of competitors, your customers your partners to understand how is it that we can move to kind of continue to carve out in our niche, right?

You'll talk about things like carving out a competitive moat. How do I create this barrier between me and my competitors that will allow us to be, continue to be successful in the long term? And you have different functions that do that, right? Marketing does a little bit of that. Sales does a little bit of that, but it's all kind of fragmented.

And so product really needs to kind of bring all of that together. I think of product as a center spoke of a wheel and each of your departments kind of surrounding that, right? When a product manager comes in, what they're doing is they're hearing all of this feedback coming in. External customers and internal customers. And then that's their job to come in and then prioritize right and really look at the business and say where is our trajectory? Where is our value? How are we going to get healthy in terms of that balance between reactive versus proactive? 

Lori Boyer 13:23 

I'm sure some of our community out there would want to know, okay, I am kind of small and guilty. I'm a little reactive. How do you let customers know? You know what I mean? How do you prioritize your needs and are they going to get super mad? You know, what do you do? What can they do? 

Ching Pei 13:43 

It starts with your customer success and your growth teams, actually. So sales, implementation, anyone that's customer facing, support first. And it's about level setting expectations. So when a deal comes in, they may say things like, I have to have X to sign with you.

Okay. And what you'll find is if you can sit down, have a calm conversation with your customer to say, hey, here's where we stand. I would love to do that for you. But you know, this is the balance that we kind of have to set with ourselves. And having just that voice of reason come in and kind of say like, hey. I understand we're also running a business here.

You'll find that a lot of people are amenable to their timelines. And sometimes you actually, this is where you might need product because you might not want to put your customer success, your growth teams in a position where they have to be the naysayer. Right. And so you bring in another voice that's accountable for that and to make sure that, you know, you're kind of meeting. 

Lori Boyer 14:45

Turn you into the bad guy!

Ching Pei 14:47 

A little bit, a little bit, a little bit.

Lori Boyer 14:49 

I get that though. Somebody you, the customer support is like, I want to help you so much, but mean old product here says you have to wait six months. 

Ching Pei 14:57 

You're not always the good guy. So in fact, I think a lot of times you'll see product being the scapegoat for a lot of things.

Lori Boyer  15:03

I'm sure. Okay. So that's super interesting. So I can see it. You know, we have a lot of 3PLs in our audience and our customer base here, they get tons of companies coming in. You know, how big should a product team be to be successful? I mean, okay, let's talk logistics specifically. How first of all, is the logistics industry with product management different than some other industries?

Ching Pei 15:30 

Logistics is a little bit different than what you would think of for a tech company. So for a company like EasyPost and those that are technology forward in their industry, it's actually a really interesting balance that you have to strike. Logistics being a little bit more tangible, even if you're on the tech side than someone like my former company Splunk, right?

Which is tangible. It's all software. And so you don't get to kind of push the boundaries of innovation always. You have to actually meet the industry where it is. 

Lori Boyer 16:07 

Meet the industry where it is. Yeah. Another great Ching-ism of brilliance. Love that. 

Ching Pei 16:14 

And so you may not be the forerunner in innovating and technology. What you're doing is you're bringing in forward thinking tech tech to an industry that has traditionally been actually a laggard right in change. 

Lori Boyer 16:29

We can all admit it. You know, we're a little slow adapting. 

Ching Pei 16:33 

Love paper and spreadsheets. 

Lori Boyer 16:35 

I have my paper here. So yeah, I'm guilty myself. 

Ching Pei 16:39 

Yeah. And so, you know, it might be just taking those spreadsheets and figuring out how to automate some of those processes. It doesn't have to be mind blowing, artificial intelligence level, right? You can do small things that can really impact your business. 

Lori Boyer 16:56 

So, our industry is known for being kind of slow, like you mentioned. We like to lag behind, but I love that you said that because I feel like I'm the kind of person who, it can seem so overwhelming that I just don't do anything.

Ching Pei 17:11 

Right. And I think that's the hard thing, right? And, you know, I think a lot of people actually suffer from the, EasyPost sometimes also suffers, a little secret. Because you do, you want to put out this like brand new, very shiny, very big impact item out into the marketplace and see what happens. When in reality you need to look at your customer value, right?

What the customers are asking for. And I always like to say, dip your toe into the water, right? You just want to feel out the market. If I do this one little piece, I know there's a thousand other little asks after this. But if I do this one core piece that I've identified as the most important thing to my customer, will they actually be interested in what I create?

And so that doesn't take much. That should be automating one simple process at a time, right? It's taking one spreadsheet and figuring out how to create technology out of that spreadsheet. Okay, great. Now that I've gotten it out there, you look for feedback. It's this constant feedback loop that you're looking for.

So we used to, in product management and development, work in big chunks of work. So you'd make a guess and say, I think the customer wants this whole big project done and you would spend a year building it, but by then the market has changed. And put it out to market and find that, you know, you didn't have the customer demand that you thought you did.

So then you just spent however much it costs you in development time for an entire year, right? Depending on the size of your team to get that out to market to realize, I'm not going to make a lot on it. My customers aren't really interested. And so if you can get something out every quarter, this is why we go into iterative, right.

Two weeks sprints releasing every two weeks, right. We can get into CICD pipelines, but probably not a good idea. But if you can get into that rhythm of, hey, every quarter, we're going to release something really small that's impactful. And then I can measure it and understand, right. And you can measure it in a couple of different ways.

It could be customer interaction. It could be customer interest. It could be revenue numbers. Did you sell a couple of those? Right. And from there, you can determine, okay, now I need to go get more feedback because maybe the click through rate wasn't as high as I would have liked. Maybe I missed revenue targets by 20%. Okay, let's go look at all those closed loss deals and understand what it was about it that missed. 

Lori Boyer 19:50 

Yes, so it sounds like what you're saying is we're looking for quick wins. Rather than a big long term project. I love, it was an aha moment for me when you talked about how, you know, it may take a long time. Today's market changes very fast. And that's different from even 10, 15 years ago, especially in the logistics industry where we traditionally been a little slower.

And so I think that that is so insightful. Things may change quickly. So if you are, let's say you're an ecommerce, if you're some of my ecomm people out there, you know, maybe they wanted to get a new shirt. You may not want to spend a year on designing some new products that is way out of style by the time it comes up.

Ching Pei 20:30 

Or an entire line based on, you know, something that's, that's not, that's actually fleeting. Right. 

Lori Boyer 20:37

So maybe you come out with socks. Just that it, and then you're seeing how it does. That's right. And you're like, whoa, these like took off. I should add X. 

Ching Pei 20:44 

Maybe you pick a color of sock, right? And then you let the customer tell you, oh, I'd rather have it in blue than black. Let's go look at blue. 

Lori Boyer 20:54 

So let's talk about getting customers on board. Customer, you know, you mentioned before, customer interaction is critical with product. There's kind of this merger thingy going on. So you know, how quickly do you get customers involved with beta or, you know, what, what, what kind of customer feedback do you look back for before you launch a product versus during launch, all of that?

Ching Pei 21:18 

It is dependent on what I'm launching. But generally speaking, customers are involved from day one. So the the kernel of the idea comes out. We'll vet it with a customer. Hey, we heard this in the market. Is this something that would be a value to you? If we were to create a product to help meet this need, would you buy it? All right, simple question. Yes, no. If they say no, then it's like, okay, what, is it free that you were looking for? Is it just not even valuable at all? 

Lori Boyer 21:58 

So how do you get this customer feedback? Do you, are you emailing? Are you having certain customers that you're having? 

Ching Pei 22:04 

We try really hard not to disrupt how many calls, right, are involved. Because you got to think they're, they're being hustled by sales people, customer success, implementation. They're talking to support, their customers. 

Lori Boyer 22:18

Last thing you want is them going to the competition because they're like, woo! 

Ching Pei 22:22 

So we try and piggyback off of already existing calls with customer success or with support or other ways to kind of jump in. Right. If support faces an interesting topic we may say like, hey, can I jump on the call with the customer when you explain this? Right. So lots of calls. Lots of emails can be exchanged. Some customers really love giving us feedback. And so we'll open up a dialogue. You should never be afraid to let your customers talk to your product team.

Lori Boyer 22:51

Okay, another great quote. Never be afraid to let your customers talk to your product team. I'm even gonna say it right this time. 

Ching Pei 23:01 

Because you want that kind of raw feedback because sometimes when it goes through the grapevine it can get misinterpreted along the way. Yeah, so so that. And when we go through that process, we're constantly talking, here's the idea, here's what we're thinking, here's what we're going to develop. Are you interested in beta? And beta is an interesting ask, so I don't like to do betas if what we're releasing is really, really complicated. And you don't, and your customer base. 

Lori Boyer 23:36 

I would think it would be the opposite almost. So explain why you don't like to do beta for complicated things. 

Ching Pei 23:42 

Because what you're doing in a beta is, the traditional beta, you're gonna give a customer a login, right? And you're gonna say, hey, try it out. Here are some instructions. Well, if it's complicated, your instruction. is going to be probably 15 pages long, 10 pages long, 5 pages, 5 pages is even too much.

If it's more than one page, nobody's going to read it. So, you put them in a position where they're already busy with their day to day. And then you're saying, here's five pages of instructions you're going to have to read to use this thing that I just put out in front of you. 

Lori Boyer 24:19 

You put a burden on them.

Ching Pei 24:20 

That, yeah, that mostly benefits me. Right, exactly. Oh, and by the way, I'll give you a free T-shirt afterwards. That's, it's not, I mean, it's not going to fly. So, what we try to do is really use betas when we are absolutely unsure about what it is that we've, we, we need for our customer. And then we pick a very small piece of it, right, to beta.

So you want to give really, really concise direction as to what it is that you're looking for, what the goal that they might be trying to accomplish. And then for your internal teams, for your product managers, for your development teams, for your customer success managers, you have to set kind of a parameter.

What is success, right, from that beta? And that's typically how I run it and it has to be pretty short. So the longer, I found the longer you leave a beta in front of a customer the less they actually play with it. Because they go all right, we'll have time. 

Lori Boyer 25:20

Sparkly's over.

Ching Pei 25:21 

Yeah, exactly. And plus that's detrimental to you getting it out to market, right? So if we talk about sense of urgency and needing to get something out to market first or second, you know, you don't have a lot of time to spend in beta, right? So, you want it. 

Lori Boyer 25:37 

So you break the complicated stuff down into small chunks, you know, of beta. So it's still kind of going to beta, but just in little pieces. 

Ching Pei 25:45 

Yeah. And so this actually comes back to really that MVP, right? Minimum viable product, the small, you want to be releasing something, you know, it's not going to meet a hundred percent of the market ask. You probably know that it's not gonna meet 80% of the market ask.

You might even be meeting 30% of the market ask, right? But it better be the core 30%. The actual customer base that you are going after. And you take that and that's what you take to market. So now inherently it's already smaller. And then when you cut the beta down even smaller, you're just looking for specific feedback on a specific thing in that MVP.

Lori Boyer 26:23 

Okay, I love that. 

Ching Pei 26:24  

Don't, don't just give them everything thinking that they're going to give you constructive feedback. 

Lori Boyer 26:30 

Yeah, no, and people aren't always that great on feedback the more complicated it gets. That's right. It's like, oh, I didn't like it. Okay, well, why didn't you like it and what pieces of it didn't you like?

And then it gets to be a whole thing. So throughout the process then, so you said customers, they're involved day one. We've got them in there all the way through to the end of the life cycle of the product. You know, if you're gonna sunset something, put it away, do you continue to have feedback on the product throughout from customers?

Ching Pei 27:00 

Okay, yes. So always. We have customer feedback all the way till probably the last day of the product is running right. But at the end of the cycle, you want to be really sensitive to how you handle that, because if you decide to try and garner feedback on end of support, end of life, we're migrating you to this new, new thing, right? You really want to be sensitive to how that's going to affect their business and how it's going to affect their day to day. If you throw this kind of wrench into their, into the equation for that. 

Lori Boyer 27:34 

And sometimes we're super excited about it and they're like, whoa, up here, Sally. 

Ching Pei 27:38

You know? Yeah. Did you just tell me I have more work to do? Because that's what I heard. 

Lori Boyer 27:41 

This does not, I know how to do that. You know, and in that same kind of vein, when we, you know, in our industry, we don't like to change a lot. So I love that. Product is about the customer. It's all about, it sounds like it's knowing and understanding who they are, what they want and thinking about them with every move you make.

Ching Pei 28:01

And customer in this case, I want to clarify this is your external customers, the people that actually pay for your service. And your internal customers, this is your growth teams. This is your engineers. This is your marketing team, right? Because I think we miss that latter customer a lot thinking we're only focused on the end customer.

So for example, Lori, what you'll see and what I've kind of seen in, in, you know, my previous industry, which is observability and monitoring is the product can be really hard to onboard. And so if you don't do a lot to enable your implementation teams, for instance, then your engineering team is always burdened with every onboarding and then that drives your product development cycle to slow down and then you're not able to meet some of the customer value that's being driven.

Lori Boyer 28:59

Oh my goodness. So when you were talking about the spoke earlier and how product's the center, just one of those spokes is the external customer. The other spokes are marketing and engineering and sales and designers and whoever else you need to get buy in. So basically You guys have to be omniscient, like know what everybody wants, right?

Ching Pei 29:21 

Yeah, I think you'll hear the phrase “everybody's in product” a lot. Huh. Because it is, right? I want to hear all of the ideas from everybody, but I'm also serving everybody. Right? There's a give and take. Right. And so, it's a really fine line and a balance between what are our external customers asking for, but how do I enable the business?

Right? We are, you know, I'd love to be, but we aren't doing all of this for free and a non profit of some sort. Like, we have to make money to continue to provide the service. Right? To be able to do that for our customers. And so, if we are healthy, then our customers get the best product. And so it is this balance of understanding that you need to drive the same level of impact for your customers externally, as you do for your internal customers.

Lori Boyer 30:12 

So interesting. That is really, really cool. So I guess if we talk to our people, I'm going to flip back for a minute just to our people who maybe don't have dedicated product people. Product management still kind of has to happen. You know, I guess what recommendations do you have for them in trying to keep an eye on these great things that a product management team would oversee if they're smaller? You know, what advice do you have for that kind of person?

Ching Pei 30:40 

I think what you'll find is one of the departments, not sure which one, it could be your sales engineering team. Cause they're in technical sales and understand implementation as well. It could be your implementation team and your customer success team or it could be your engineering team.

It depends on how your business kind of runs or operations actually. And from there. You can tell who's kind of taking the lead, right? Who's taking in the most customer feedback, external or internal. And I would create a little committee. So you're not kind of in a room making decisions by yourself. And you take one or two people and you kind of meet on a weekly or monthly, depends on how fast your business is moving, just to discuss the big topics and what you could do to automate or move things forward.

What you'll find is that in that group setting, you're going to start to hear the priorities start to bubble up to the surface. The hard part is you have to pick a lead in that room. Because decision by committee often doesn't work. So you pick a lead, and that person's the tiebreaker, and that person is responsible for keeping that list and helping the rest of the group kind of work towards those same goals.

Lori Boyer 31:53  

Okay. I think that's great advice. And I think one of the keys, what it sounds like from you is just making sure that it is, people are aware of it and it's assigned out somehow. That people are keeping an eye on it and making sure that, you know, this, this really, really important element of any business is, is getting the right attention. So I would love to hear specifically about EasyPost now. So, what has been your experience, you know, what drives your vision and what you do here at EasyPost? 

Ching Pei 32:24 

Yeah, I think from day one till now and will continue for a while, is I feel like I've just been drinking from a fire hose of information, right? Because I am learning a whole side of the industry that I've really never had exposure to. I understand logistics. I understand, I order a lot of things on Amazon. 

Lori Boyer 32:45 

I have to say when I joined the logistics industry, it was like a door open to this hidden world. What is happening over here? There's so much to learn. So yeah, I get it. 

Ching Pei 32:56 

The amount of things I order is just slightly out of control. Yeah. So I understand that very well. And so. 

Lori Boyer 33:02 

It's all part of our market research. 

Ching Pei 33:04

The market research, but you start to see things in a new light and you start to understand why it's so complex and why it needs all of the pieces it has. What is interesting to me is this market that we're in, the tech part of logistics is highly fragmented. And it makes sense because we're a little behind in technology. We didn't start in the age of technology. And so it really was homegrown. 

Lori Boyer 33:37 

Started in the ancient days. Really. 

Ching Pei 33:41

Horse days, right? Like you were, what is it? Like 13 pounds of apples? Anyways. Because of that, you have a lot of homegrown technology. You have small vendors or even big vendors. That's a combination of small vendors that have been mashed together. So no one solves the full shipping journey, if you will.

So by that, I mean, from the moment that a customer hops on to an ecommerce platform, purchases an item, gets that item shipped from a warehouse with an actual shipping label on it in a box. One of the carriers picks it up, gets it to the customer's door. And then if you don't think you like it or it doesn't fit, right, trying to send it back to the warehouse that it came from. That whole cycle probably has seven to eight plus different types of software involved. And if. 

Lori Boyer 34:35 

You guys know, you know, I know you feel that pain. 

Ching Pei 34:38 

Or a spreadsheet somewhere stuffed in the middle of those eight, right? So you at, for every gap that you see is a loss in efficiency and time. And so if you're doing that eight times, you can think how much that would cost you as a business, right? To, to, I have those gaps. You're either losing information along the way or things are really slow to populate one way or the other. So you're losing time. Or just costs you a lot to connect everything together because a person has to, you know, kind of manually pull things together.

So when that happens, you really want to start to eliminate those gaps. My, you know, my first product role was in a low code workflow management tool solving exactly this problem, right? So Adjacent was like quality control for manufacturing. You were doing it on paper and then the paper would get lost and then you couldn't analyze the data because the numbers were gone. You know, it would be incomplete.

So you're like, oh we did great this year for quality control, but then I threw away all the papers for the ones that we messed up on. And so it's the same here. It's, you know, you want to close those gaps. You want to make sure you have something that's near real time when you're passing information all the way through.

And that's where I think EasyPost can come in. So we started as a shipping multi carrier. API platform, which allowed, you know, a shipper to connect to a bunch of carriers one time, right? So instead of taking two years, it takes you days, right, to actually be able to ship with all these carriers. But that's only one small piece of it.

What about the business logic, right? What about how I ship or what I ship depending on the thing that I'm shipping? How do I handle that? Okay, that's another piece of software. Well, okay. I think we should probably just create something, very easy for us to do that. And then on the post purchase side, how do I get tracking numbers out to my customers?

How do I keep an eye on those items that are coming back to me? All of that. And so, what I would love to see us do at EasyPost is create instead of this multi carrier API is to become this all in one shipping platform, where you can end to end from the moment that a person puts an item in the shopping cart, right, give them the rates that it costs to ship and handle all the returns that are coming back to you. 

Lori Boyer 37:14 

So taking the tech stack that's currently like two Empire State Buildings high and condensing it into something that people can actually look at.

Ching Pei 37:23 


Lori Boyer 37:24 

I love that. That's really cool. 

Ching Pei 37:25 

So, it's not going to push the boundaries of tech, right, but it will absolutely transform this industry. 

Lori Boyer 37:30 

Right. And that goes back to your statements earlier about like, just take one step at a time. We're not looking at like massive changes all at once. It's about growing and improving upon what we have. That's so cool. Anything else you want to share in that vein? 

Ching Pei 37:46 

I think we're on the precipice for this industry of, of, really change that's coming, right? So we've seen other laggard industries already make this jump. Like medical has seen a lot of change, yeah, in electronic records, right? Really adopting that and making sure they're able to leverage technology. You're seeing manufacturing really change with robotics and IOT, Internet of Things, right? And so why not logistics? 

Lori Boyer 38:19 

Yeah, right I agree and logistics is in, in some ways, it's like we're such an old school industry and we have these, we're, we're doing something that's been done for generations and yet at the same time, it's an industry of numbers. You know, every second counts. The first time I stepped into a warehouse, I think my jaw dropped at the sheer magnitude of just how important every package and every second can be. And so as it sort of exponentially grows. All in one. We love that idea. 

Ching Pei 38:52 

The scale, right, is where it matters. You can't get to sub-second with paper and pen. You have to get there with technology. 

Lori Boyer 39:00 

But one step at a time. So don't panic. One step at a time, but well, we're about out of time today, but I just really want to thank you. I've got to have you come back because you have so many great insights. I also love talking to women in logistics. It's a male dominated field. So I love having you here representing, and you've got awesome feedback. So thank you so much for being here, everyone. Please, as always, let us know if you have any other topics or experts you want me to talk to, but we will see you next time.

Ching Pei 39:34 

Thanks everyone.