Logistics is one of the most significant expenses small businesses incur. Freight rates increase every year, and the growth of e-commerce demand often outpaces freight capacity and available warehouse space. And with e-commerce giants like Amazon offering fast and free shipping, small businesses and independent retailers are struggling to meet shifting customer expectations.
Small businesses, especially in e-commerce, need to have a solid command of shipping and logistics. They’re saddled with the unenviable problem of minimizing shipping costs while ensuring a speedy service. Partnering with an express courier service can help in reducing costs, but every link in the fulfillment process must be managed appropriately if you want to see results.
1. Know the difference between product and shipping weight
Knowing how much your goods weigh can seem like a no-brainer. However, many small businesses still make an expensive error when calculating the final shipping costs of their products. The problem? The projected shipping weight can differ from the final weight.
Let’s say you sell computers. You’ve probably taken the weight of the various components and the packaging into account. But to safely ship fragile electronics from one place to another, you also have to wrap the box in protective materials like air pillows, Styrofoam, and bubble wrap. All that extra material, including the packaging tape and cardboard box, add to the final weight.
If you’ve calculated your shipping costs based on pre-packing weight, you could end up paying a lot more. Pack all your products for shipping and then use the weight when estimating final expenses.
2. Look for flat-rate shipping
When shopping for freight partners for your retail business, look for one that offers flat-rate shipping. Flat-rate shipping is often the easiest and most convenient option for small and independent retailers. While the prices they charge might not be cheapest, you don’t have to calculate the shipping cost for each package and allows you to focus on other aspects of your business.
Many flat-rate services also come included with shipping boxes and packaging material, which can save you quite a bit of money. As you branch out into other ventures, you might want to explore other shipping options, but in most cases, starting with simple shipping is the easiest way to go.
3. Only use high-quality boxes
A box isn’t just a piece of cardboard. When shipping out orders to your customers, it’s also an opportunity to tell your customers something about your brand. The product, the packaging, and the box are all extensions of your business. So make sure to design good packaging and only use new and high-quality boxes.
Often, small businesses source their products from different suppliers. Boxes and packaging material aren’t free, so many companies reuse the original box, put a label on it, and send it out for shipping.
This makes your business look amateurish and cheap. The package is often the customer’s first glimpse of your business, and investing in quality design and material goes a long way in creating an excellent first impression.
Shipping is a fact of life for any e-commerce business, and the right strategy can help minimize costs, improve customer goodwill, and increase profits. Knowing how product and shipping weights work, partnering with the right service, and investing in high-quality packaging are just some things you can do to grow your business.