By Elizabeth Howard,
Running a small business is one of the most difficult things you can do. One of the biggest challenges for many small business owners is being able to effectively manage the shipping and handling of their products across the country or across the globe. Being able to do so can allow you to compete with much larger companies. However, there are considerations you should make to do the job correctly.
Core Customer Base
You must always take into account who your customers are in regards to how you serve them. First and foremost, in regards to shipping, this should be where they live. If any of your customers live overseas, the shipping options offered will have to be very different compared to what would be the case if they all lived in the continental United States. Other factors should be taken into account as well such as the age range of your customers and whether they live in houses or apartments in big cities.
Exactly how much you need to ship each day is also a huge consideration. If the volume of orders for your online store is relatively light, you can probably get away with simply preparing the packages and mailing them yourself from your local post office. However, if your sales suddenly skyrocket, this may no longer be feasible. Instead, you may need to hire workers to do that packing and implement a business geared fulfillment solution from a carrier.
A lot can go wrong with shipping products to customers. Many issues can result in returns and refunds that eat into your profits. One common problem occurs when a product is shipped out to an inaccurate address. The product may end up being returned by the carrier without ever reaching the customer. To make sure inaccurate delivery addresses are never used, you should invest in a solution like USPS address validation API
. API stands for application programming interface, and this software can instantly verify mailing addresses for you to ensure successful delivery.
Fragility of Your Products
Returns can absolutely destroy profit margins. If your products arrive at customers’ doorsteps damaged, you will lose a lot of money. Overall, it’s best to stop this damage from happening in the first place through the use of the correct packaging and packing material. What is adequate for packing a t-shirt will not be for an item made out of glass or even paper. Make sure to test different packaging and packing materials with different products.
It is a simple fact. Consumers are very impatient. You better know how long it will take to deliver packages to customers and be able to provide them with the appropriate estimations. If these estimations are too off the mark, you may end up with some pretty irate customers. This could end up with your customer service staff wasting time answering calls about late shipments and the loss of repeat business.
Offering shipment tracking to customers has certain great benefits. For one, your customers will be more informed regarding the status of their package. This means there will be far fewer calls to your customer service department to check on the status of packages. Second, you will have more information in regards to what has happened with shipments that went wrong. It’s a win-win situation for both the business and the consumer.
Of course, the cost will be one factor that will be very important to your business. If you are not careful, the cost of shipping your products can quickly balloon past what is sustainable. Work with different carriers to develop a solution appropriate for your business. You may, for example, benefit from using flat rate packages as opposed to being charged by weight for each individual item. If you do a large volume of business, you should be able to find a significant discount from certain carriers.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to how you ship your products out to customers. It can be a lot to handle as a small business owner. However, if you factor in all the considerations above, you should be able to do a decent enough job to please customers and save money at the same time.