Whether you have a brick and mortar store, or you’re in e-commerce, you likely need to ship items to your clients and customers. You might be trying to keep your prices low, but after looking at shipping prices, it can be challenging.
However, it’s not impossible for you to keep costs low for both you and your customers. Below are 8 must-know shipping tips for small businesses.
1. Get Scheduled Pickups
Small business owners will try and take care of shipping on their own by putting all their products in their car, driving to the post office, and standing in line to mail each individual package. While this offers a personal touch, it’s not necessary at all.
Save yourself some time and gas money by scheduling carrier pickups. For example, USPS will come to your door to pick up your packages as many times as you’d like. This service is free, plus you can schedule pickups up to 3 months in advance.
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If you’d like more precise pickup times, you can pay an extra fee for that.
2. Study Your Shipping Options
How many times have you gone to the post office, put something in a box to ship, then balked at the total shipping price? Sometimes, what may seem like the best shipping solution may not be the most cost-efficient.
When you get to know shipping options inside and out, this helps you in two ways. First, you’ll be able to choose shipping packages and options more wisely. Second, there will be no surprises when you go to pay for your shipping.
3. Implement Shipping Software
With how busy you are, you probably don’t have much time to sit around and compare options. If you can’t do tip #2, then this is for you.
With shipping software, everything having to do with shipping is neatly packaged into one program. For instance, you can compare shipping costs at the click of a button, and you can even negotiate the rates.
In addition to compiling shipping costs, these programs enable you to create and print shipping labels, manage your orders, and track your packages. With simple syncing options, you’ll be able to manage all of your shipping information in one place.
4. Think About Flat-Rate vs. Weighed Parcels
As you know, shipping usually comes in two options: flat-rate or weighted. Think about your products and their average weights.
If you tend to sell items that are light (like clothing), then weighted parcels may be your best choice. But if you’re shipping heavy things like cookware and bakeware, then flat-rate parcels are probably best.
If you get a chance, you should try getting a quote for two similar parcels; one with flat-rate and one weighted. Ideally, you should use the items you sell regularly. Compare the prices and go with the one that saves you the most money.
5. Consider Dropshipping
Small business owners tend to take on multiple responsibilities, and that can become overwhelming. If you feel like you need some of the burdens of shipping relieved, a good way to offload it is to outsource your shipping.
One type of shipping outsourcing is dropshipping. This is where your manufacturers ship your products directly to your customers.
Dropshipping can save you a lot of hassle since you no longer have to oversee the shipping process. As a result, you’ll also save on time. However, the one drawback is you won’t have control over how your products will look when they arrive at your customers’ doorsteps.
6. Work With Third-Party Logistics Providers
Another type of outsourced shipping is using third-party logistics (3PL), providers. When you work with 3PL providers, all you need to do is get your products to them.
Once the 3PL provider has your products, they’ll not only store them for you, but they’ll also process and ship them to your customers. This can be a wonderful solution if you don’t have much storage space but continually pump out new products.
While this may possibly cost more than shipping items yourself, it can free up a lot of your time so you can focus more on your work rather than standing in line at the post office.
7. Use Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping
As a small business, you might need shipping that accommodates something in between 1 parcel and a whole truckload. Luckily for you, there’s something that suits your needs: LTL shipping.
For example, a company like Unishippers will allow you to “share” truck space. That way, you can get shipping at a lower price than if you’d used a full truck for just your products.
8. Don’t Be Cheap With Packaging
We understand the need to recycle and reduce waste. Plus, you won’t have to spend extra money if you use boxes from the grocery store or your last move.
However, this is an area worth spending a little extra in. When your customers receive your products, one of the first things they’ll see is the packaging.
If your customers see a dingy old box with no branding on it, they may be skeptical of the quality of your services and products. Make sure they receive a professional looking box that’s new and prominently displays your logo. This establishes you as a company that offers top-of-the-line services.
Use These Shipping Tips for Small Businesses
By using these shipping tips for small businesses, you’ll reduce your overhead and keep your customers happy. While you may not be able to enjoy some of the low prices bigger companies can get, as you can see, there are still ways you can optimize your order fulfillment process without it costing you an arm and a leg.
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