For many would-be entrepreneurs, shipping is an expensive and frustrating ordeal; so much so that many small businesses avoid shipping and prefer only selling in person from their shelves. Doing so dramatically limits a business's potential customers' scope and ultimately causes potential loss of income. While being a strictly local business is often granted loyalty benefits from nearby residents, it's not always enough to hinge an entire business's success.
By mastering shipping, a business can instantly open up their wares and services to a national, if not an international, audience of new loyal customers and fans. At Sheships, we love encouraging small businesses to grow into even more significant potential, including branching out into e-commerce. To help make the tricky process, here are 5 useful business shipping tips you should know about.
We tend to associate costs with just the tangible aspects—buying boxes and tape to use makes sense, whereas the seemingly incidental charge at the post office desk doesn't seem necessary. The truth is, though, that shipping costs are much more than a simple fee.
We're paying to offset the operating costs of a complicated service. Shipping companies operate under strict regulations to ensure goods cross borders safely and legally. What's more, there is a tremendously limited amount of space in any storage space, hub, or transport vehicle. Finally, every plane truck and car must be maintained and fueled. So, there are actual operation costs associated with moving our goods.
If you're looking to ensure that what you're charged is as fair as possible, it's essential to better understand the services offered by the various post providers in your area. Investigate what options are available and take the time to read through the different shipping options and prices. Often, there are discounts for goods shipped in bulk or specific types of items. Other times, it's possible to consistently pack packages to match the dimensions and weight limits of the fastest or most affordable options.
Of the 5 useful business shipping tips you should know about, consistency is the key. The most crucial aspect of any budget is first to understand what costs are even being incurred. Only when all the incoming and outgoing cash flows are correctly accounted for can you ever hope to reign in expenses or cut out the excess. A big part of operating expenses is ultimately shipping goods as it's essential to keep them well-stocked. What's more, a diverse inventory of items to choose from requires numerous variations in type and size of shipping boxes, tape, and protective filling.
Just because your inventory is varied, though, doesn't mean you should ever buy supplies on a whim to make up for the new buying habits of customers. To provide customers with the same quality unboxing experience, you should order supplies in bulk. Choose the packaging suppliers that offer the best deals on quality materials and that also support your brand's vision and goals. Before you add new items to your inventory, check to see if they will comfortably fit into any other box sizes. It's possible to plan well ahead of the average shipping cost on any item based on its weight and the necessary dimensions of the package. Order new boxes and inventory changes by your budget limits, and always opt for a bulk order to keep the savings going.
As noted, working in larger quantities tends to confer discounts across an array of products and services. The first way to save money on shipping is by always buying materials wholesale. While it may not seem like much to impulsively grab tape or bubble wrap at a convenience store, it's the ongoing habit that ultimately adds up. By ordering bulk, you guarantee you always have enough supplies at the best possible price. While it may seem annoying sometimes to deal with unpacking and sorting through large orders, the money it saves you is well worth it.
For businesses looking to scale their orders, shipping in bulk is also an option. Again, the availability of different services depends on what your local shipping providers offer. Most, including USPS, generally have prices specifically to help small businesses cut costs and continue to improve, especially for businesses with specialty, custom manufactured, or imported goods. The palette ships items to the fulfillment hub, where they are then dispersed down the company's distribution channels. It's an excellent way for businesses to relieve some of the pressure of shipping, as well as secure savings.
Along the same lines of ordering boxes to match the products, different filling materials may serve various goods just as well. While it's likely tempting just to order a large roll of bubble wrap and be done with it, you may actually be doing yourself and your reputation a disservice. Indeed, industry-standard materials like bubble wrap and packing peanuts will unquestionably defend an item. But it may be, in many cases, be much more than what's necessary. All the money that went towards the material will go right in the trash, along with the package filler. What's more, customers today are much more conscious of waste and may not be pleased with excess filler even if their items arrived in one piece.
Finally, many businesses choose to use paper or plant-based materials or recycled supplies. It's part of the holistic image of many brands to emphasize waste-free shipping materials that will compost more naturally. Regardless of your marketing angle, it's crucial to change the routine when an order benefits from it. Consider using less expensive padding and wrapping less delicate items in decorative tissue paper or recycled material. It will save you money and result in a more enjoyable unboxing experience than most packages.
Keep the heavy-duty materials for fragile items like porcelain or breakable resins. For food items that might be crushed, consider reinforcing the corners of the box with more cardboard. Soft items or flat objects that aren't at risk of being crushed are prime opportunities to wow customers with a skillful and beautiful packing job using lighter or more decorative materials.