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Shipping Tips & Solutions

Shipping for Small Business (5-Minute Guide)

For small businesses, getting started with shipping can be daunting. In our guide we cover what you need to know to assure your shipping strategy is successful.
Shipping for Small Business (5-Minute Guide)
Jules

By Jules

 

September 29, 2020

Maintaining the smooth operations of a small business is no easy feat. Small business owners wear many hats, as they have to oversee the business operations from production, marketing and shipping to ensuring satisfactory customer experience. From end to end, eCommerce is a crucial aspect of both small and large businesses.

For small businesses, it carries extra meaning, as it provides an opportunity to provide customized customer experience and retain clients. Small businesses that operate brick-and-mortar businesses should take advantage of mail orders to reach an even larger pool of customers.

For those who don’t sell from a physical location and operate an eCommerce-only business,  understanding the ins and outs of shipping for small businesses is necessary for them to make sales.

To ensure that customers have the best experience possible, fledgling retailers should work with third-party shipping companies for seamless deliveries. While it may sound intimidating to outsource this vital part of business, finding a third-party vendor to suit every business’s needs is possible.

Working with Easyship also ensures seamless order fulfillment and the experience of shipping for small businesses. The guide that follows provides insights on small business shipping solutions.

 Small Business Employees Discussing Shipping Solutions
Photo by Austin Distel 

5 Things Small Businesses Should Consider Before Shipping Their Products

With a plethora of solutions when it comes to shipping for small businesses, choosing the one that offers the cheapest shipping for small businesses can be challenging. While you can randomly choose from USPS, UPS, DHL and FedEx, it can be hard to select the best shipping company for small business if you don’t know basic industry standards.

To get the most from your small business, you should consider the costs associated with shipping products. Below are some key considerations to look into:

1.Order Volume

The number of orders that a small business sends out every month plays a significant role in finding the best solution. Small businesses that are just getting started with online selling will have a different strategy than established big-box stores, like Best Buy or Target.

Businesses with large order volumes can negotiate for inexpensive small business shipping rates. Your business may also benefit from small business shipping services solutions, such as packaging and delivery discounts from couriers and third-party order fulfillment providers, like Easyship. Working with a partner like Easyship can help scale eCommerce order fulfillment seamlessly.

2.Packaging

Choosing your product packaging provides an opportunity to protect your goods, advertise your brand and save on shipping costs. Providing good protection ought to be number one consideration when packaging your products. As such, you should evaluate the level of protection that your products need. The way you package T-shirts will significantly vary from how you pack glass ornaments. Protect fragile items using air-fill or bubble wrap to provide extra protection.

That aside, the weight and size of your products directly affects your choice of packaging. Small and light items can be shipped in an envelope while large products require boxes. Additionally, you should consider the cost of packaging materials, such as paper cushioning or foam. Some couriers offer flat rates depending on the type of packaging material used.

3.Package Dimensions and Weight

Without a doubt, heavier packages cost more to ship, unless you go the flat rate route.

You should also consider the dimensional weight (DIM) of your goods. This takes into account the dimensions of the shipped package. Large boxes have large DIM weight, which will lead to high shipping costs. As such, go for small boxes if possible while ensuring that the products are shipped securely. The average package dimensions significantly determine the overall shipping cost and its impact on your budget.

4.Tracking

Transparency is foundational to building a long-lasting, meaningful relationship with your customers. One way to build that trust is through transparent tracking practices. Every small business should have a clearly outlined shipping policy  that they share with their customers. The tracking protocol ought to be featured in the previously mentioned policy.

Whether the shipment is being sent by FedEx, USPS, UPS or Easyship, offering tracking is an integral and expected part of fulfilling eCommerce orders. As customers now expect to be able to track a parcel’s every movement, businesses ought to meet that expectation to maintain a competitive edge.

It’s up to the seller to make sure customers can access the tracking updates seamlessly. Common ways to communicate with customers — and keep the post-purchase experience positive — is to send frequent, branded update emails that lead to a tracking landing page hosted on your business’s own website, allowing you to control the branding and messaging.

Related: What is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Package Internationally in 2020?

5.Insurance

Like tracking, your company’s stance on insurance should also be laid out in the shipping policy. It should address what might happen if items — especially luxury goods, electronics or gifts — are lost or damaged in transit. If the thought of something going awry in transit is worrisome, customers can elect to purchase insurance through couriers or third party vendors at checkout. The cost of insurance and amount covered depends on the cost of the goods. In rare cases, the seller, aka the small business owner, may elect to purchase shipping insurance, if the destination is deemed insecure or unsafe.

Fortunately, international express couriers cover all shipments worth up to $100 by default. That said, USPS, only provides coverage of up to  $100 when using their Express Mail service. Shipping insurance for goods worth more than $100 must be purchased separately.

6.Delivery Times

It might seem like a small pleasure, but getting something in the mail can still be thrilling — especially when it’s a package your customers have been eagerly awaiting. Don’t leave them in the dark about arrivals! As we discussed with tracking, transparency is key.

Before we can talk about delivery windows, we must touch on lead time. This is the period between when an order is placed and delivered. In this window, a product may be produced from scratch or sourced from a third-party vendor, for example. Always let the customer know how long it will take for the product to be produced, packaged and shipped.

When providing an estimated delivery date, it’s also wise to add a few extra days on for wiggle room. The best possible experience is when a package arrives on time. Even better is when it’s early. But the worst is when a package arrives later than planned for, as this can sour a customer’s trust.

7.Destination

Distance travelled is another factor to consider. Shipping internationally is more costly than domestically. This can also impact how quickly your customers should expect deliveries to arrive. Since most online customers expect quick, affordable deliveries, it is essential to select a courier option that provides the correct balance of cost and time.

The best way to reduce costs while increasing the delivery speed is by cutting down on the number of zones that the package travels. For instance, if you are frequently sending  products from one side of the country to the other , outsourcing a fulfillment center next to your customers can save big long-term. In the industry, this is known as working with a 3PL.

What are the Best Shipping Solutions for Small Businesses?

Shipping Solutions for Small Businesses Schedule
Photo by XPS 

To put it simply: The best shipping company for small business is speedy and cost-efficient. Any savvy business person knows that the name of the game is being sensitive and accomodating to your customers’ needs. In this case, we’ll assume your customers are eCommerce customers and their needs are related to delivery windows, package tracking and cost.

When considering which shipping options for small business, remember there is power in choice and transparency. This, of course, is the fancy way of saying sometimes the best choice for your business is to let customers choose which courier and method they prefer at checkout. With delivery times and associated fees clearly laid out, it eliminates any surprise hidden fees and decreases the chance that your customers will be dissatisfied with shipping.

The solution that provides the cheapest shipping for small businesses may not be the best for customer service. Keep in mind that, fiscally, it doesn’t make sense to limit your business to one small business shipping services provider. In fact, businesses use more than two providers, depending on their offerings. To determine estimates, try out Easyship’s free, easy-to-use rate calculator.

Below, we’ve laid out the different services offered by different leading couriers:

Courier Best for: Features Delivery Time
USPS Small shipments Click-N-Ship, Home pickup, Flat Rate 2-8 business days
UPS Large shipments Business discounts, Schedule pickups, UPS connect 1-5 business days
FedEx Fast delivery Packaging help, Schedule pickups, Temperature control 1-4 business days
DHL International delivery Schedule pickups, Real-time shipment monitoring, Packaging help 3 – 8 business days

3 Ways to Reduce Shipping Costs as a Small Business

Finding the cheapest shipping for small businesses is key to ensuring that you save on cost and generate profits. However, since specialty small business shipping rates vary, you should ensure that your choice of courier provides the most favorable small business shipping services while ensuring timely delivery. The following are some ways you can decrease  the cost of shipping for small businesses.

1.Negotiate Rates

You can negotiate specialty small business shipping rates for large and regular-sized orders with a number of providers. If you are huge shipping volumes and are doing a lot of business with couriers, consider working with them to negotiate a lower rate. Similarly, if your order volume is so low that you won’t enjoy many benefits, you can leverage several discounts and special offers that couriers give to growing businesses.

3.Choose Affordable Packaging Materials

The cost of packaging can add up quickly. For instance, you can pass on add-ons like branded packaging if you don’t have room in the budget. Instead, opt for plain, traditional packaging materials to save on cost. You should also consider buying packaging materials in bulk, which may be expensive upfront, but saves money in the long run.

3.Outsource Shipping

Another time and money-saving tip is outsourcing order fulfillment to third-party service providers who know the ins and outs of the logistics world. This involves engaging third-party companies to handle logistics behalf of small businesses. 3PLs also store inventory, package orders and prepare them to be picked by couriers.

Find the Best Shipping Service for Your Small Business with Easyship

Small business owners often ignore the importance of setting up streamlined logistics. However, this is crucial for the future growth of the business. Get started with our free shipping rate calculator to help your small business get the best prices. From there, you can design custom-branded packing slips, print labels and much more. Integrating your business with Easyship makes it possible to smooth out your process.

Get a Shipping Quote

Small businesses operate differently from big box companies. Two of their biggest concerns? Saving money and growing. That’s why business owners must understand the various parameters and intricacies of shipping to sail through with ease. For example, all SMB store owners should be aware that it doesn’t make sense to limit yourself to one small courier when considering your shipping for small business plans. Most small businesses work two or more providers, depending on which are the most cost effective and best suited for their customers needs.

After all, there is no singular best shipping company for small business — it’s all about options. That doesn’t alway mean prioritizing the courier that offers the cheapest shipping for small business Easyship makes it simple to scale your operations to your unique needs, partnering with the leading small business shipping services to offer over 250+ shipping solutions. Easyship also allows you to create custom branded tracking pages and emails, providing your customers with a holistic, branded experience.


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