Small-business owners who want to create a more streamlined, healthy supply chain should review these 10 shipping and packaging tips for small businesses. Here, they will find techniques that could change their entire business. Don’t let yourself lose money on poor shipping practices. Although it takes time and effort to choose the right options, there’s no reason you can’t accomplish your goals with just a little focus.
1. Use Proper Shipping Materials
Customers are quick to complain if they see a product in poor condition or broken during transit. They may demand their money back, or they may leave poor reviews on your website. For these disgruntled customers, you will likely need to give a full refund, waste time and energy finding a replacement, and then suffer the consequences of a negative online review.
If you prepare your items for shipment more carefully, you can prevent these sorts of outcomes. Fragile items may require bubble wrap or crumpled paper to fill in the gaps between the product and the shipping container. For smaller items, bubble mailers or padded envelopes may be your best option. This type of shipping material is typically inexpensive, so you have no excuse for damaged packaging.
2. Get the Right Package Size
You can save a tremendous amount of money on shipping if you get the right size package for your product. In some cases, you may need to forgo a box in favor of a poly bag or reduce unnecessary filler to bring down the package size. You may also want to cut the package size to lower the dimensional weight.
When you order custom packages, ensure that you review the sizing requirements with the carriers. You don’t want oversized boxes for different rate categories. When you ship a large collection of packages to a single location, it’s better to ship them on a pallet, not individually. And if you tend to ship pallets frequently, consider investing in a semi-automatic shrink wrapper to ensure your products reach their destinations safely.
3. Find the Right Delivery Timing Options
As a business owner, you may find it difficult to balance your desire to speed up delivery times with the need to maintain a profit. Obviously, single-day shipping will cost you more than standard shipping. You can offset that cost by charging the customer more for the service, but you don’t want to charge so much that you dissuade them from the purchase altogether.
Some business owners are OK with covering the cost for fast delivery, but others can’t take the blow to their profit margin. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for the company and its products.
4. Take Advantage of Free Shipping Supplies
Small businesses can benefit a great deal from free shipping supplies. The major carriers, including UPS, FedEx, and DHL, provide free shipping boxes. You can make a shipping label or have the carrier send them to you in bulk. The major downside to this, however, is that the customer may not receive a fully branded experience. But this remains on the list of 10 shipping and packing tips for small businesses because its cost-saving benefits outweigh the potential negatives.
5. Consider a Fulfillment Company Partnership
You can decide between shipping your own products or paying a fulfillment company to complete the task for you. Working with a fulfillment company has its own costs and benefits, so you’ll need to determine if doing so will save you money in the long run.
It takes a lot of time to hire people to complete orders, make arrangements, and print shipping information. By outsourcing those responsibilities, you eliminate the time and resources you spend on finding the right employees. With an outsourced company handing all that work, you can focus your energy on using your staff for other purposes that may grow your business.
6. Pick the Right Shipping Service
No single shipping service is likely to match all your shipping needs, so explore the variety of shipping companies until you find the right combination of services. You might find that UPS is best for shipping certain items, while FedEx has discounts for specific shipments. If you ship internationally, finding the right service for those jobs is its own ordeal.
7. Check Out Additional Services
If your business requires additional services beyond what a shipping company typically provides, you may choose your carrier based on those add-ons. UPS and FedEx, for instance, both have programs for small businesses. You can leverage their discounts, consulting services, and packaging assistance. Often, these are free services that the carriers provide to help small businesses get on their feet.
8. Research Shipping Platforms
There may be help available to your small business on your shipping platform, which can save you money. Alternatively, you might want to get your own shipping software and integrate the platform with it. Software like this can indicate each carrier’s shipping rate so that your customer can choose whichever one they want.
9. Provide Simple Returns
Returns are a substantial component of e-commerce and retail. By making your return process as smooth and easy as possible, you will save money. There are various ways to do this. For instance, you can put a return label in each package to make it simple for customers to send back. Alternatively, you could put a return address label on each package that the customer can use to send it back using their own money. The important thing here is that you avoid footing the bill.
10. Optimize Your Contracts
As a business owner, you can negotiate with shipping carriers for the best deal possible. Don’t be afraid to consider the optimal arrangement for your business. So long as you enter into negotiations on a good-faith basis, the worst thing that could happen is that the carrier says, “No.” There are also consultants you can hire to assist you in the negotiation process.
When it comes to something as massive and overwhelming as choosing your supply chain strategy, you can’t afford to be imprecise. Review all the options available to you, and decide very carefully. A poor choice could lead to profit losses, but the right decision can help your business succeed.