If your small business does a lot of shipping, you need the right tips and tools to help you streamline the process. Wasted time and errors during shipping can cost your business money and potentially tarnish your brand image in front of clients. To improve your shipping process, check out the following ideas:
1. Get the Right Packing Supplies
Quality shipping starts with the basics, and that means shipping materials. To ensure your shipments arrive in one piece, you need sturdy boxes and the right packaging materials. You may also want to consult with a company that provides custom shipping solutions. They can let you know about the best custom boxes and shipping methods for your situation.
Ultimately, custom boxes can help you save money as they help to eliminate half empty boxes and pare down the volume of each shipment. Additionally, the packaging material you select can help to showcase your brand to your clients. That can include anything from having your logo on the side of the box to using eco-friendly packaging materials to impress customers.
2. Establish Great Flow and Organization
In addition to the right supplies, you need your shipping and receiving room to be setup to facilitate speed and flow. Ideally, you should have one area set aside for packaging. This should have your boxes, tape, and packaging materials in an easy to reach place.
It should also have a waist-high countertop for your shipping crew to use as they pack boxes. You may want your printer for shipping labels and packing lists in this area as well. Finally, if this area is not by your loading dock, you want space for dollies or pallets and a pallet jack. That allows you to easily move your packed items to the loading dock with a minimum of hassle.
3. Explore Shipping Software
To keep your shipping efforts organized, you may also want to invest in shipping software. There are a range of programs or apps on the market, and in many cases, you don't even have to buy special equipment, you can simply run these programs on your laptop or smartphone.
Depending on your needs, the software should allow you to create picking and packing lists from invoices. It should allow you to store recipients and select their addresses from a list of options. Some apps also communicate with your shipper, and this can allow you to create shipping labels or pay for postage through the app. Finally, you may want an app that can integrate with your inventory software and your accounting software so you don't have to manually update these programs when you ship something.
4. Consider DropShippers
In some cases, you may want to streamline your shipping by letting someone else handle some of it. This typically works in cases where you order a good for your client and then ship it to them. If you use a drop shipper, you cut out the middle step of this process. Essentially, the dropshipper holds the inventory until you order it, and then, they ship it directly to your client. For some businesses, this can serve as as complete replacement for their shipping department, but for others, it only makes sense to use these services once in awhile.
5. Develop Good Relationships With Your Carriers
Finally, if you do a lot of shipping, you need a relationship with a carrier. To save time, look for a company that does pick-up, and consider working with just one shipper in exchange for volume discounts. When looking at shippers, consider things such as tracking options, weekend deliveries, pick up times and integration with your accounting software.