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ShipStation: Rapid growth requires rapid search that scales to over 2.5 billion annual searches

We wanted to enable our users to search for and find their order status using any piece of information related to the order. With Algolia, we can do that quickly, easily, and efficiently to meet and scale with our customers' expectations.

Keith McGill

Director of IT @ ShipStation
ShipStation
Use case

Saas / OEM

Headquarters

Austin, Texas, US

Customer since

since 2015

Product Offering

Shipping Software for ecommerce

Key results
  • Scale: 2.5 billion user queries in 2019 

  • Speed: 2ms average search result response time

The challenge

  • 1.

    A Fast-Growing Startup Requires Search That Scales

  • 2.

    ShipStation's Standalone SQL Structure Wasn't Delivering a Strong Business Experience

The solution

  • 1.

    Algolia's Easy-to-Implement and Powerful Search Functionality

The result

  • 1.

    ShipStation's Search Functionality Scaling with ShipStation's Rapid Growth and Customer Needs

A Fast-Growing Startup Requires Search That Scales

ShipStation isn't just riding the e-commerce wave - they're one of the underlying forces that makes it work. With their web-based software, e-commerce retailers can efficiently process, fulfill, and ship their incoming orders from over 120 different ecommerce marketplaces, including Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. With ShipStation, customers love the ability to integrate with major postal carriers, set up business rules to optimize the delivery process, and have up-to-date, unified reporting across their business. As a result, the company has grown rapidly since they were founded in 2011.

To help their e-commerce retail customers find the information they needed in a sea of data to fulfill orders and delight shoppers, ShipStation sought powerful search capabilities beyond what they were able to support in-house or find elsewhere. 

They needed to find a search platform that could perform and scale as quickly as their business was while minimizing resources needed to maintain the technology.

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ShipStation's Standalone SQL Structure Wasn't Delivering a Strong Business Experience

To provide maximum utility, ShipStation needed to allow online merchants to search their orders using a number of different data points, including customer name, email, order number, and tracking number. Users needed to quickly access the correct data to find specific orders and respond to customer queries. 

ShipStation initially created their own search function using their built-in SQL server database platform. Even with proper indexing, the platform just wasn't built to provide quick, relevant results and an intuitive experience. Additionally, the interface was clunky, with more than 20 text boxes - one for each potential searchable field. 

ShipStation was growing fast, and they needed a more user-friendly solution that could handle massive amounts of data. After several attempts at creating their own viable search prototype, the ShipStation team discovered Algolia.

"We wanted to enable our users to search for and find their order status using any piece of information related to the order. With Algolia, we can do that quickly, easily, and efficiently to meet and scale with our customers' expectations." Keith McGill, Director of IT, ShipStation

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Algolia's Easy-to-Implement and Powerful Search Functionality

Within just a few weeks, ShipStation was able to implement and customize Algolia's search API and get their new search capability up and running. 

The Algolia-powered search is faster and more efficient. With federated search, users are able to type their search query into a single text box within ShipStation using any order attribute and easily and quickly find the relevant, up-to-date order status and information they seek. Despite years' worth of order data for thousands of customers across its platform, results appear in milliseconds. 

In addition to the customer search functions within the product, ShipStation also uses Algolia as an internal search engine for its own employees' use. ShipStation's customer support, account managers, and sales teams use the internal search engine to find account and order information to better and more accurately serve and support ShipStation customers. 

Once Algolia was deployed within ShipStation, the new search platform has required very little maintenance and has scaled well during ShipStation's rapid customer growth over the past five years. ShipStation's data organization also partnered with Algolia's customer success and engineering teams to ensure long-term scalability and performance by creating and re-arranging data clusters for maximum efficiency. Back-end analytics have helped ShipStation's team monitor performance to make sure that everything continues to run smoothly.

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ShipStation's Search Functionality Scaling with ShipStation's Rapid Growth and Customer Needs

As ShipStation's user base and data set grows, Algolia's search functionality has seamlessly scaled along with them. In 2019 alone, Algolia powered 2.5 billion user queries, searching across 705 million records. The average response time was -2 milliseconds. 

When ShipStation first started using Algolia, it had around 4,000 customers. They now have more than 75,000. ShipStation attributes that success to their customers' high satisfaction, loyalty, and evangelism in the marketplace - and accurate and efficient search capabilities are a key component of that success.

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