A lot more goes into a business than shuffling inventory. Stocking, helping clients, and slowly working towards a flourishing store takes time and dedication. As a business grows, its methods grow with it. Since a business must stay on top of orders and customer demands, the shipping process is no different. It’s one of the more nitty-gritty aspects that can cause hang-ups in a workflow. While we can perfect almost every aspect of our sale funnel from a bird’s eye view, shipping always brings us back to ground level.
There’s no getting around the cost of shipping supplies and the time sink that is preparing and packing every item that goes out the door. How to make your shipping process more efficient doesn’t have to involve revolutionary change, though. Some of the simplest ideas and tweaks can transform a shipping system from struggle to streamlined. We should know; Sheships is a dedicated packaging supplier and elastics manufacturer with experience helping businesses obtain the perfect shipping equipment for their business.
Depending on the shipping service used, tracking may already be automated. Small businesses utilizing USPS or a private shipping company already has automated tracking available to them. Ensure that the shipping option chosen always includes shipping or can have it added on. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking tracking is a place to save money. However, paying for goods lost in shipping outweighs the few dollars it costs to tack on tracking.
There are still options for larger operations that handle their logistics internally. A robust check-in system can be developed in-house to keep customers up to date. The more automated it is, the better, as there’s less chance of avoidable human errors. Many applications require investments to take advantage of. Again, while it might seem like skimping on tracking saves money, it costs much more in terms of customer satisfaction.
Some factors impact shipping before it even starts. Namely, the state of the inventory. There is no way to get the product out the door if it can’t be quickly found and accounted for. A well-run business always knows exactly what’s in stock and where it is. There should never be any guesswork about backstock, prices, and storage. A lot of things in life are difficult to guarantee. However, inventory management is something that can be polished into a flawless engine.
Before computers and the Internet, businesses used to keep paper or carbon records and manually update them. Hopefully, no one is doing that anymore, and at the very least a simple spreadsheet on a computer can be used. Every item needs to be described and its SKU and other identifiers listed. Also, the amount in storage should be tracked and the number on the shelf accounted for. Finally, note the location on the shelf and in storage. Any other details that can be thought of and added will only be more helpful in the future when locating an item or discussing its features with a potential customer.
How to make your shipping process more efficient is never something big business asks. The reason is many have been using a pick-and-pack system for years. Pick-and-pack is the pinnacle evolution of efficient shipping procedures. The idea is to design an area where the steps of shipping are staged in an organized location. Employees working in this space will start with the product and go to each station where the necessary tools and supplies are neatly kept in bulk. No more piles and bins of mixed-up shipping supplies will be crowded into one area.
Granted, building a pick-and-pack area takes forethought and a bit of room. This type of operation is mostly seen in warehouses and greatly contributes to the efficiency of these operations. There’s no reason why a business of any size—including a homegrown one!—can’t take advantage of the logic and optimize existing or spare space into a dedicated shipping and packing system.
The main thing that bogs down shipping is communication. If every customer was content to sit and wait silently for an order to come, there would be no need to optimize anything. Instead, customers ask questions and have high expectations. Many of these demands come from years of relying on large corporations who have the time, room, money, and workforce to drive items out the door at lightning speed. Obviously, not every business can do that and so must find more creative ways to solve issues such as slower shipping times.
One of the huge advantages that small businesses have is accessibility. These days, most people want to interact with a business they know is operated primarily by people, not automated with technology. Big business often struggles to keep lines of communication open—so much so that most of us can name some that never offer customer support to the average customer. This shut door frustrates a lot of people and turns them towards independent stores.
Having a means of communication prominently displayed will help customers a lot. Most customer’s questions will relate to either an item they may buy or how and when they will receive an item when bought. To reduce the work this creates, businesses can add a frequently asked questions section to their site. Lastly, having a spot just for shipping facts will greatly reduce repeat questions or anxious requests for shipping updates.
We understand the struggle of shipping at Sheships. That’s why we have been providing businesses across the nation with affordable shipping supplies. Sheships manufacturers high-quality clothing elastics and stock a large variety of packaging essentials including bulk boxes, bags, tape, pallet wrap rolls, and more. We aim to be one of the best and most reliable shipping goods suppliers as well as a top-notch provider of elastics.