E-commerce has been on a steady rise as our world further digitalizes and the convenience of online shopping is all too alluring to customers. Now, thanks to the COVID-19 quarantine, the ability to ship and distribute your product is a necessity for any business to survive. While having such a service and the supplies to fulfill orders is a good start, you will be far more successful if you can optimize your shipping process. As a supplier, we can show you how to organize shipping supplies for maximum efficiency and keep your business afloat during the pandemic.
Every so often, you should reassess how and where you store your shipping supplies to identify any inconveniences or inefficiencies that are hindering the speed and effectiveness of your shipping process. Having to walk a long distance or spend time searching for a specific item can lead to some substantial time loss that accumulates as every package takes just a little bit longer to prepare and send out. If you have taken note of which supplies are being most commonly used, you can arrange to have those common supplies organized to be the most accessible and the easiest to find. If certain items are typically shipped as a group, you can keep those supplies grouped together to eliminate searching for the individual pieces.
Consider looking for variants such as corrugated boxes instead of normal boxes because shipping supplies like corrugated boxes are popular not only for their effectiveness, but for how easily they fold flat and can be stored away. This is especially important because having supplies in bulk can take up quite a bit of space that could be used more productively.
Similarly, you should evaluate the current process of how your system operates and address any inefficiencies present. This is a good opportunity to speak with your employees who work within your shipping department to get an idea of the process from their point of view and any inconveniences or troubles they may have discovered. These inefficiencies may include having to walk or search too long for shipping supplies or not having enough supplies on hand. Your employees will likely have some insight into how these issues could be solved and offer you practical solutions to consider because making their job easier is in the interest of both you and them.
Products being damaged or becoming faulty during the shipping process is also fatal for your store’s reputation, as it is exceedingly difficult to earn back the confidence of your customers once you have lost it. Part of organization is making sure you are well stocked, so do not skimp on supplies with the philosophy that things will be more efficient if there’s simply less variety to search through. Protective materials like bubble wrap or carton sealing tape are important safety measures to maintain the integrity of your product.
Additionally, to save you money, make sure you’re getting shipping supplies that best cover the needs of all your products. By this we mean that the box your product is in shouldn’t be bigger than the product itself. Not only does this make it more likely that the product will move around and be damaged, but you’ll have to pay extra for the size of the box. Finding the right materials for shipping an item isn’t just about practicality, but it’s far more economical to make the investment in getting the right amount of supply for any item.
Labels are king when it comes to learning how to organize shipping supplies for maximum efficiency. No matter how minor or small, all your shipping supplies should be properly labeled to distinguish every component from one another. This goes for both boxes as well as shelves, so that you do not confuse orders and ship products to the wrong address. If you have not started labeling already, you will quickly find a label machine becoming your absolute best friend. For digital efficiency and organization, such as cataloging the supplies you have, a barcode is also recommended as part of the label to expedite processes such as taking inventory. To make sure these labels continue to be effective, ensure you express how important it is that your employees make sure labels are kept clear of obstruction and are always front-facing. Otherwise, the labels become useless.
Be careful not to get tunnel vision and only focus on the processes and procedures of your shipping department. The key to efficient shipping is making sure that the employee’ needs are well taken care of doing the shipping and that your decisions keep them in consideration. After all, if your employees are suffering or hindered in some way, your shipping efficiency is going to plummet. Jobs like these are prone to cause musculoskeletal pain such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendinitis.
To remedy these issues and keep your employees productive, investing in ergonomic equipment such as chairs that support good posture or adjustable tables is a good place to start, and the specialized equipment will eventually pay for itself when your employees aren’t forced to take days off to recover from injuries.
Further on the topic of employees, it’s a good idea to formulate and create a reference sheet of the procedures you want your employees to perform. Checklists are a good way to keep the process organized and consistent if your employees can keep track of what they’ve already done and what they haven’t. This prevents them from overlooking a step that could potentially compromise the product or repeating a step and costing your business valuable time as your employees need to pause and recall the procedures by memory. Having a readily available reference sheet will also streamline your procedures so that every package is completed in the most efficient way possible every single time, rather than your employees all having their own personal way of packaging. Such streamlining is extra important if packaging goes through multiple steps and employees, as they’ll always know what to expect and react accordingly.