Shipping your product to consumers can be one of the most complicated elements of operation for small businesses. Many businesses fall victim to poor planning, resulting in overpaying vendors, lost sales and inconsistency in delivery.
“Effectively managing shipping costs directly affects a small business’s bottom line,” says Don Anderson, vice president of transportation services at Tompkins Associates, a Raleigh, N.C. based supply chain and distribution operations consulting firm that works with large and small businesses. “Every dollar saved in transportation translates to an equal improvement in financial performance.”
Based on an article by the U.S. Small Business Administration, we’ve laid out several factors business owners should consider before shipping products to their consumers.
Research all possible shipping strategies and find what is appropriate to your business.
There are many different shipping strategies including free shipping, real time carrier rates and flat rates. Each strategy has their respective benefits and challenges. You can read more about the pros and cons of these strategies on one of our previous blogs, Business Shipping Strategies.
Quick Takeaway: Do your research before diving into a shipping strategy. Be sure your business can sustain the shipping strategy that you choose.
Select the carrier that works best for your company.
There are four major carriers in the United States including UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS. While they all provide similar services, they have varying fees and customer services. They each provide easy-to-use web tools to help you assess and compare carriers. If you want more personalized help, you can contact their small business specialists to discuss your needs and their services in depth.
Quick Takeaway: When doing your carrier research, check with each company’s respective small business specialist for a deeper dive into how their services can help meet your business’s needs.
Use the shipping tools at your disposal.
For many businesses, purchasing a postage meter is a no-brainer. But did you know that there are options such as stamps.com that guarantee savings of at least 50% over postage meters? Stamps.com also tracks your shipping spending and provides easy to read reports.
Quick Takeaway: Think bigger than a postage meter. Research programs that help you track your shipping spending.
Use Integrated Labels to save time.
Integrated labels help you save time by streamlining the shipping process by combining invoices, packing list and shipping label all in one. There are a variety of customizable sizes to choose from when you order your integrated labels online at My1Stop.
Quick Takeaway: Save time and money and stay organized with the help of integrated labels.
Create a shipping policy and stick to it.
Once you have selected your shipping strategy and carrier, create a shipping policy. eCommerceWeekly provides great tips on creating a shipping policy for your website. Once your shipping policy has been created, make sure it is communicated clearly and effectively internally. Having a shipping policy that everyone adheres to will help eliminate confusion and waste. Additionally, communicating your shipping policy to your customers will help you handle the unexpected.
Quick Takeaway: Create and communicate your shipping policy internally and to customers.