One of the most important elements of owning a small business is shipping. Customers appreciate it when you ship items promptly and package them well, but poor shipping can also have a huge negative impact on your reputation and sales.
Even if you have an incredibly wonderful product, your customers can still feel cheated or taken advantage of if something goes wrong during their item’s journey from you to them. Slow shipping speeds, damage to the product, and mixed-up orders can leave them feeling unsatisfied.
But keeping everything streamlined and organized can be challenging for a small business owner. Minimizing hassle and costs is important, so here are some tips for you to follow when shipping for your small business.
Do Your Research
While the options may seem overwhelming, it’s important not to simply settle for the first option to find. Research your shipping options to learn which one will be the best for you and your customers. You’ll have to choose between USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx to decide which shipping service is the most convenient and inexpensive for you.
While the price of postage is important, there are other factors to consider as well. USPS and some other places may be able to pick up packages for you, which will save you gas money and a trip to the post office. Pay attention to the cost of the packaging itself as well, and don’t forget to consider shipping speed.
By doing all your research at the start, you won’t have to worry about figuring everything out every time you send a different package. Instead, you’ll be able to simply focus on the actual process of shipping your package.
Be Precise with Postage
When you’re paying for postage, it’s important not to underpay or overpay. The first will make for extra hassle for you and possibly slower shipping speed for your customer. The latter will cost you a lot of money in the long run.
Purchasing postage online is a great way to save yourself time, but to do so you’ll want to know the precise weight of your package. Using a checkweigher scale can help you make sure you’re paying the right amount to ship your item.
Streamline Your System
Rather than storing boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and your products in different places in your home or office, set up an area with everything you need to ship items. Streamline the process as much as you can to make things easier for yourself.
If you’re purchasing labels and postage online, print them out on sticker paper. This will save you time so that you don’t have to cut and tape the labels. Make sure your labels, order list, and ready-to-ship packages are organized the same way (e.g., alphabetically) so that it’s easy to make sure you don’t mix anything up or miss an order.
Negotiate a Discount
If you’re shipping a hundred or more packages every month, then you probably have enough leverage with your shipping provider to work out a discount for your postage. The savings might not be huge, but even a little bit will add up over time.
As your business grows and you find that you’re shipping even more packages, you might want to go back and negotiate for a larger discount. The more you ship, the more leverage you have. If you offer your customers a choice between two or more different shipping services then you may be able to get the two services to compete for the lowest rates.
Save on Shipping Supplies
Boxes and other shipping supplies can cost quite a bit of money, so make sure you’re spending wisely. Buy your supplies in bulk to get a discount, and look for sales and coupon codes when you’re stocking up. Buying in bulk will also keep you from constantly running out of boxes or tape and needing to stock up last-minute. For example, you can order custom shipping boxes in bulk to cut down on costs.
Owning a small business can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s a lot of hard work and dedication as well. Hopefully these shipping tips will make it a bit easier for you to enjoy the experience even more.
Photo credit: quijonido / Flickr