Shipping Advice for Small Businesses
It’s easy for small business owners to get stuck in a shipping or logistics rut. When things are going great and business is booming, the way your company pays to ship products can take a backseat role to more important things. That doesn’t mean you should forget about it completely. Take time to audit your processes and make sure you’re ready to handle anything with some simple reminders.
Here are six shipping tips for small businesses.
Find Your Specialist, Save Your Money
When you work with a major logistics provider you have access to a representative who can help identify a plan to fit your exact needs. Whether you need small package services every day, full truckload services a few times, or something in between, a specialist will be able to identify the exact services and the best costs that will help you enter any market.
Offer Free Shipping Not Discounts
If you are starting a new business don’t fall prey to the idea that one of the only ways to make a sale is offering a discount; consider offering free shipping instead. This small sacrifice on your part will be a perk for customers while still allowing you to make a full-priced sale. While you will have to absorb the cost of shipping, remember that customers are usually willing to wait three to five business days for free shipping.
Prepare for Delays
Occasionally there will be delays you can’t prevent. Establish open lines of communication with your drivers or freight consolidation services representative so that you can stay ahead of any issues. To that end, consider putting together a crisis plan in the event of delays that you can predict, typically related to weather, holidays, security (important when transporting confidential or hazardous material), etc. Being proactive will help immensely if something goes wrong.
Customer Service is Your Friend
Customers call to report problems because issues that seem mundane or routine to you are a big deal to them. Try your best to be patient and empathetic, and you’ll earn their trust, respect, and—hopefully—loyalty. Provide as many details as possible about where shipments are, what delays you’re dealing with, and when freight is expected to arrive. Your shipping provider should be honest with you on delivery deadlines so that you can be honest with your customers.
Know if LTL Will Work
If you have a shipment that weighs at least 150 pounds, consider shipping your products as part of a less than truckload (LTL) shipment. Paying to individually ship that much freight will add up quickly. By joining in on the cost of a trailer with other shippers, your shipping budget will become more flexible. Plenty of logistics providers can help you find a driver with room specifically for your packages.
Reuse Containers and Reduce Your Costs
If you have an ongoing relationship with a customer, consider using investing in reusable cargo. Typically, this type of packaging works well for small business owners who have frequent shipments of consistent volume and have clients who are open to operational changes. You can find an entire checklist plus more information on reusable transport packaging here. If you think you are overpaying for one-time or limited time use packages in an ongoing relationship, reusable packaging could greatly impact, and improve, your bottom line.
Some ideas from this list might seem like common sense, but everyone needs a reminder now and again. If shipping is a large part of your day-to-day business operations, make sure to execute the smartest option possible.