As entrepreneurs, we typically focus much of our time and attention on making sales. While this is essential, for long-term business success, we must also concentrate on what happens after getting customers to part with their money. A big part of this is shipping goods out to clients, particularly when it comes to online stores.
Focus on Packaging
Firstly, you need to take packaging into consideration because this element makes such a difference to how safely and well-presented goods arrive at their destination. A lot of damage that occurs to items in transit is preventable with the proper packaging. Use the appropriate amount of shock-absorbent material to protect products, which is typically more than you’d think.
Customers won’t complain about opening a parcel that has been well wrapped and insulated, but they certainly will have something to say if the items they ordered arrive damaged or otherwise unusable. This includes the gift wrapping, where relevant, not just goods themselves, too.
If you have to ship pieces that can break due to too much movement or impact, you might like to utilize RFID asset tracking tools that alert transporters to problems along the way. You can also buy temperature indicators to help stop temperature-sensitive goods from being exposed to too much heat or cold.
Choose the Right Service
A vital component of shipping effectively and keeping costs as low as possible is choosing the right service provider(s). You may want to put all your business with one carrier to be in a better position to negotiate favorable rates, or you may need to use multiple companies for different speeds of service and different locations. This choice comes down to what you sell, how far it has to travel, the types of customers you target, and more.
Research many carriers rather than just going for the first one you think of or the traditional USPS operation. Find out the different costs and travel times on offer with each, plus consider other factors such as additional charges for some services, reliability guarantees, if companies will deliver to PO Boxes and business addresses, and if you have to sign up to a specific contract length.
All businesses should utilize technology wherever possible in their shipping processes to cut costs, save time, reduce stress, and keep customers happy. Apart from the RFID and temperature-based tools mentioned above, also consider adopting tech that allows you to track and audit shipments.
This kind of software enables you to keep customers updated all the way along about where their parcels are, which makes them more inclined to shop with you again. It also helps you update stock levels, scale your operations, and complete reporting and accounting tasks more easily. Plus, using tech programs can reduce the amount of time you and your team have to spend on creating shipping labels and other documents on-site.
Understand Different State and International Shipping Regulations
If you’re like most other entrepreneurs these days, you have a business that needs to ship goods not just within your city or suburb but interstate and even internationally. If so, you and your workforce must understand the different regulations involved in various areas, so you know how to best proceed.
For example, some materials and products aren’t allowed into other countries, or they are, but require the payment of expensive quarantine or other border fees. These items aren’t always obvious, either, so read up on the restrictions in each zone before you try to ship there. Plus, both overseas and interstate shipping can sometimes involve the payment of additional taxes and duties, and there may be extra documentation to handle, too.
Look for Ways to Engage Further
When shipping, see if you can find extra opportunities for additional marketing and sales activities. For example, your packaging should feature your business brand on it so that everyone who sees the items gets a chance to notice your name. Humans often need to see company names, logos, taglines, and the like many times to absorb information. Any additional times people can spot your brand is a good thing, especially if you do not have to pay a lot extra for the privilege.
Plus, don’t forget that shipping goods out to customers gives you the perfect opportunity to entice them to buy from you again or mention your business to their contacts. You might enclose a sample in the parcel so shoppers can try something else from your range or pop in a flyer with a promotional code for the next time they order.
You could provide a gift guide or leaflet that showcases new items in your store, too, or even give people a referral form they can fill out and give to a friend.
Follow the above tips to improve your shipping processes as time goes on. Look for ways to keep honing costs as you go. Every aspect of shipping that you focus on and make helpful for your clientele will make a positive difference.