Today’s global market is full of opportunities for those willing to take them. Small businesses have been cropping up and booming, using globalization to reach as many customers as possible. Because of this, it’s more important now than ever before to know all the small business shipping tips.
You need to be aware of the costs associated with shipping and packaging and make both affordable. It’s also essential to have a robust and flexible plan for where and how you’ll ship. Your shipping practices and choices should make sense for your current size but also be scalable.
Legal and practical considerations are also important to factor in. Tied to all of this is recognizing that customer satisfaction is the priority. Keep reading for a guide to the 15 most crucial small business shipping tips.
1. Research Shipping and Transportation Costs
Step one is understanding shipping container transport prices. A number of things influence shipping costs. These include the size and weight of the package, distance traveled, and if it requires special handling.
Going overseas and dealing with customs duties can also drive the cost up. Regardless of the size of your business, you need to look into the costs of transporting your goods. Don’t operate without a clear idea of what it takes to send your products out.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around and Negotiate
Every list of small business shipping tips should get you to look around and negotiate the best deal. Your business has unique needs and your shipping choices should reflect that. If you ship often in large numbers, see if any shipping companies are willing to cut you a break.
Often these companies want to keep and build good relationships with frequent clients. You could get a bulk discount or other incentives. These can help drive costs down and ensure quality shipping.
3. Look to Offer Convenience
In today’s market people have become accustomed to speed and convenience. As a small business, you have to keep up and find ways to offer this. Services like same-day or expedited shipping are vital, as are tracking options.
You may need to pass these costs onto the customer, either in your prices or when they check out. As long as your product is good and delivery is convenient, many customers won’t mind. That said, make sure these extras are optional for customers, not required.
4. Plan Where You’ll Ship
Remember that distance and transportation type affects shipping costs. It’s in your interest as a small business to plan a shipping area and to research the necessary costs. As painful as it is, it might not be feasible for you to offer international or global shipping.
There are a lot of factors at play here, including the scale of your operation and the nature of your products. Look for cheap global shipping options, but consider if it’s better to stay domestic too.
5. Know How You Plan to Ship
The cost of mailing your products using the post office will be different than FedEx or UPS. Local ground deliveries are cheaper than going cross-state or out of the country. Transporting via air or sea is also sure to drive costs up.
You need to plan how you plan to ship, with whom, and what it will cost. Keep your shipping partners, plan, and costs as consistent as you can to make things easier.
6. Consistency and Reliability Are Key
When keeping costs down don’t neglect to pick reliable shipping options. You don’t want products going missing or customers receiving damaged goods. Find a company and method you trust and stick with them if possible.
You want a company with which you can build a good business relationship, but you also need to be practical. Affordability and capacity are good reasons to evaluate other options. Be careful not to end up with a shipping service that’s less consistent or reliable than the previous one.
7. Find a Way to Offer Free Shipping
Everyone loves free shipping. Find ways to offer this to your customers when shipping products. You might need to raise prices or require a minimum amount to qualify, but it’s worth it.
8. Keep Material Costs Down
Save money on shipping by buying materials in bulk or reusing boxes if you can. You can also opt for recycled materials. For small businesses only sending a few things a month, this is a great way to save money.
A small business whose orders are booming might find buying in bulk preferable. This can be pretty desirable if looking to have your branding on your boxes.
9. Third Party Insurance
You want to cover your bases if sometimes happens to your product on the way to the customer. You don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to do so. When shipping for business, many shipping companies offer flexible insurance options.
Sometimes these are too expensive though. In those cases, third-party insurance on your products might be a better choice. It tends to be more affordable and consistent as well.
10. Read the Legal Fine Print
Globalization means taking advantage of an international customer base. The issue is this often involves an assortment of legal regulations and restrictions.
You also have to worry about taxes, customs duties, and other fees. It’s important to be aware of your local legalities and those of the places you ship to. Some products aren’t allowed to ship to certain countries or jurisdictions.
Examples include weapons, tobacco, drugs and alcohol, and certain foodstuff. Some of these require paperwork, special handling, or duties. Others can get you or the customer in legal trouble.
Make sure the products you are shipping won’t be running afoul of any regulations. Warning customers or telling them you can’t ship to those areas is a good idea.
11. Protect Fragile Products
When transporting goods, you need to protect them too. Make sure to always package your products with care to avoid damage or issues. Try to use eco-friendly options to minimize plastic or paper waste.
Think of it like an extra insurance policy in case the driver or customer drops your package by accident.
12. Develop an Internal Shipping System
The logistics of shipping can get crazy very quickly. Every business, no matter the size, should have an in-house system for shipping. It doesn’t matter if you use complex software, or only keep track of things on a spreadsheet.
Develop an organizational method and stick to it. Don’t be the person scrambling through emails trying to figure out what goes where or what happened to it.
13. A Little Professionalism Goes a Long Way
Whether you’re selling cheap scented candles or luxury hand-made bags, a little professionalism goes a long way. Take the time to make sure your packaging looks good. It might cost you a little more in time, effort, and money, but it’s worth it.
When it comes to transporting products, sometimes frugality pays off. Giving your product and company a sense of class, however, is priceless.
14. You Can Use Free Shipping Boxes and Labels
This is a little hack that not many small businesses know about. If you call some companies, like UPS, they might actually be able to give you shipping materials for free. In their minds, this is like a freebie to make you want to keep shipping with them.
A few boxes or labels are a small price for them to pay if you’re sending a consistent amount of business their way. That said, this might not be a long term solution for every business. At some point, you scale out of needing a few free boxes a month and you might find other companies more attractive.
Using branded packaging or needing more flexibility could also be a factor. Still, looking into these options could help out a small start-up business.
15. Consider a Fulfillment Company
At some point, the scale and frequency of orders might be more than you can handle. Some businesses hire more staff to try and accommodate, but others looking into a fulfillment company.
Fulfillment companies handle the logistics of accepting and fulfilling orders. You still make and provide the products, but they’ll handle all the nitty-gritty of getting it boxed and sent out. They also warehouse your products, providing you with plenty of storage for inventory.
This makes sure orders can come and go without any hang-ups.
Crucial Small Business Shipping Tips
Knowing these small business shipping tips is important for running a modern business. You need to reach as many customers as you can with your products, without breaking the bank. Making sure your goods arrive safe, fast, and intact is also vital.
You need to factor in all of your costs and balance affordability with quality. Customer satisfaction is also critical, as is being able to handle as many orders as possible. Check out our other blog posts to learn more about delivering quality goods in an efficient way.