Shipping products is an essential part of running an ecommerce business. While it might seem simple to place items in packaging and send them off with a carrier, the process is actually more complex than that.
If your shipping processes aren’t efficient, you’ll end up wasting valuable time and resources on assembling packages and arranging shipments with carriers. Or worse, you could end up with lost shipments, inaccurate customer information or products that arrive in less than optimal condition. However, a streamlined system allows you to easily arrange everything, from the carrier you use to the actual pickup times. Getting organized will also help you find the best rates so you can save money and keep customers happy at the same time.
If you want to save money and make your shipping process as seamless as possible, avoid these common mistakes.
Don’t: Use the Same Packaging for Every Product
Different items require different materials in order to make it to their destination safely. If you use the same boxes or packages for everything, you’ll end up wasting money or putting your products in jeopardy. For example, a clothing company shouldn’t use the same boxes they have on hand for wholesale orders just to ship a few shirts directly to a consumer. You’ll end up paying extra for that unnecessary size. But you shouldn’t stuff too many items into a box that’s too small either, as it could end up breaking or the products inside could get damaged in transit, which will leave you footing the bill later.
Do: Tailor Boxes and Fill to Each Specific Item
Ideally, you should have a variety of sizes and types of packaging on hand to suit your entire inventory. Even if you only sell one type of item, you’ll need options for people who order multiples. You also need to wrap breakable items in protective wrapping and use filler to stop products from moving around in each box. To maximize efficiency, keep a variety of these items on hand so your team can always access the materials that work best for each order.
Don’t: Go with the Same Carrier Automatically
The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS all offer competitive rates for different types of packages. Sometimes, USPS might be the cheapest option. But other times, one of the other two might have a better deal available. If you stick with the same one for every item you need to ship, you’re probably not getting the best rate every time. It’s entirely possible that you’ll use one carrier most of the time. But you could miss out on better rates if you don’t at least have the option.
Do: Compare Carrier Rates
You don’t need to go to each carrier directly just to find the best deal. Instead, use a shipping automation tool to compare rates and arrange shipping with the carrier of your choice. SendPro® Online from Pitney Bowes gives you access to exclusive rates from each option so you can find the best price without leaving your office. Then you can easily arrange shipments with whichever carrier you choose.
Don’t: Size Products Incorrectly
The size and weight of each item is what determines its final shipping price. If you don’t have a scale or if you use one that’s not intended for packages, you could end up paying more than necessary or dealing with constant shipping inaccuracies. And if you rely on carriers to size and weigh your products for you, your team could end up wasting a ton of time going back and forth.
Do: Weigh Everything Accurately
Weighing your items is very simple if you have the right tools. You can even get a 10 lb scale along with your SendPro® Online subscription. So it is made to work specifically with small packages and will be compatible with your online shipping platform, which allows you to complete the process right from your office and ensure that everything is accurate.
Don’t: Forget About Tracking and Returns
Customers want to know exactly when their products will arrive. And they want the option to easily return items they’re not satisfied with at no additional cost. If you fail to set up these policies and systems, customers are simply left to wonder or contact your team with constant questions. Overall, you could end up with a lot of dissatisfied customers and negative word of mouth.
Do: Create Policies and Systems
First, you need to create shipping and return policies on your website that outline exactly what customers can expect, including how fast items will ship, where customers can access tracking information and what they can do if they need to return items. Then you need to make sure your shipping platform offers an easy tracking feature so you and your customers always have access to that important information.
Don’t: Do Everything Manually
Shipping can be a very complicated process. You need to process orders, pack items, create labels, get your items to carriers and pay for the actual shipping. All of that work can drag valuable manpower and resources away from your other business operations, which can hinder your growth and the rest of your operational processes.
Do: Invest in Automation
Automation can go a long way toward solving the pain points involved in ecommerce shipping. Instead of taking each item to a carrier, comparing prices individually and waiting for them to weigh and price items, automation tools like SendPro® Online allow you to complete the process right from your office. You can see everything on your screen, use your product scale, print labels and then schedule a pickup so the carrier comes right to you. This frees up more time for you and the other members of your team to focus on growing and supporting your business, instead of constantly focusing on day-to-day tasks like shipping.