Introduction to small business shipping

If your business does a lot of shipping, then your small business has a lot riding on the shipping strategy you choose to follow.

A well-planned small business shipping strategy will ensure you’re able to consistently meet your goal of items arriving damage-free and in a timely manner, which will help keep your customers happy.

The other thing a smart small business shipping strategy will do is make it possible to deliver on your customer service promise as cost-effectively as possible.

There’s much to consider if you want to develop the best shipping for your small business. Let’s get started.

What is your monthly shipping volume?

Knowing what your average shipping volume is each month will have an influence on the decisions you will need to make.

Are you shipping less than 100 packages per month? Then managing your shipping needs in-house is probably the most efficient and cost-effective small business shipping solution.

Do-it-yourself shipping means that you or someone who works for you will have to be responsible for printing labels and dropping off packages at your local USPS post office or carrier location.

Shipping over 100 items per month, or dealing with high-volume shipping during the shopping season? Then managing your shipping needs in-house is likely NOT the best use of your internal resources and budget.

Knowing your shipping volume can also give you leverage. If your volume is strong or steadily increasing, you can use this factor to negotiate better shipping rates from the carrier you are using.

How big and heavy are your packages?

The bigger and heavier your packages are the more they will cost to ship. That’s why it’s important to determine what the smallest, lightest package can be while never compromising on the level of protection needed to prevent the item from being damaged while in transit.

For example, you may realize that some small and light items don’t need to be shipped in a box at all. Instead, the best shipping solution for your small business would be to deliver them in an envelope or polybag.

And don’t forget to take a closer look at the packing materials you use as well.

If there’s another material that is lighter and provides the same level of protection, consider switching to this so you can lighten the overall weight of the package and shave some cost off the delivery charge.

Using the wrong size box

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What will you use for packaging?

Your packaging can serve multiple purposes for your small business.

First and foremost, the number one job of your packaging is to protect your documents or products while they are being shipped.

Don’t cheap out on the protectability of your packaging. If the item purchased arrives fast but is damaged due to the inferior quality of the packaging, your disappointed customer won’t care about your speedy delivery.

Small business owners are always looking for ways to reinforce their brand.

Customized packaging seems like a natural small business shipping solution for this. You can go this route but customized packaging that features, for example, your company logo printed on it will be more expensive than plain packaging. Consider alternatives. For instance, you could use plain packaging but then put a sticker featuring your company logo on it.

Using plain packaging can be as simple as recycling packaging from items that your small business has received. If you don’t have any plain packages on hand you can order them online. To save even more money, buy your plain packaging in bulk so you can reduce your per-unit cost.

Another option for saving on packaging is to get it for free from USPS or carriers like UPS and FedEx. Their standardized, flat-rate boxes can be picked up or delivered right to your small business headquarters. When you’re ready to deliver an item, you just pay the flat-rate shipping fee that’s associated with the package size you chose.

How many shipping zones will your packages travel through?

When figuring out how much to charge small businesses for shipping their packages, USPS and carriers such as UPS and FedEx measure the distance the package needs to travel by using geographical zones. For example, USPS has 8 geographical zones in the continental US. UPS and FedEx have 7.

The amount you are charged by any of these services depends on how many zones your package passes through to reach its destination. The more zones, the higher the cost of shipping. That’s why it’s a good idea to review how many zones your deliveries are traveling through. If it’s a lot, then setting up a second location for fulfillment might be the best shipping solution for your small business.

For example, if you’re located on the West Coast and, after review, realize that 45% of your shipments last year went to the East Coast, it may be cost-effective to set up a second fulfillment center on the East Coast. By doing this you would reduce the number of zones the East Coast orders would have to travel through and as a result, reduce your shipping costs.

Could you benefit from using an online shipping platform?

Ask any small business owner who ships a lot of packages each month and they will tell you there is no single carrier that is the best option for all your shipping requirements.

If using the best option is always your goal, then you’re going to have to rely on more than one carrier. Thankfully, determining which one makes the most sense for a specific package doesn’t have to be loads of work if you use an online shipping platform.

With an online shipping tool like Neoship, shipping rates can be compared in seconds allowing your small business to optimize the savings on shipping costs. Plus, you’ll be able to print labels and postage, track packages, and manage orders too.

The basics are the foundation of the best small business shipping solution

When sales take off it’s an exhilarating time for a small business, but if you don’t have a smart shipping strategy in place, it can be an overwhelming and costly time too.

Think ahead.

Do your homework, analyze your shipping needs, review the options available to you, and fine-tune your process. Invest the time now and you’ll have a shipping strategy in place that will run smoothly and cost-efficiently even during the busiest of times.

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