Understanding shipping for your small business has gotten easier since I started. A plethora of companies such as: FedEx, USPS, and UPS offer flat rate shipping. A couple of years back when I started my business they didn’t. Thank goodness for the advancement of technology. However, when starting out it can still be somewhat difficult grasping exactly what you should using, the cost, and much more.
Before you invest money into mailers, tape, bubble protectors, and more you need to decide who you want to ship with. You might think “I’ll just go with USPS, everyone does that and it makes sense for my business”, but does it really make sense. You need to know how much it’s going to cost to ship, what is their customer service like, delivery time, as well as other factors. Those are really important aspects for your business to know. UPS prices match USPS in regards to shipping but they have a better guarantee with packages. You need to weigh the option for all three provides.
Yes, there is a thing such as shipping software. Five years ago I didn’t know there was a variety of options you could use. USPS’s Click and Ship is a free option that you can sign up for. If you need to measure your packages weight and enter it you will need an option such as Stamps.com or Endicia they both charge a monthly fee.
Are you mailing clothes, candles, jewelry, scrubs, art work or more? If so, you can’t just go pick up a box and throw it in there. You need to purchase shipping material that works for your actual product. This is separate from the type of packaging you use for your actual product. Measure your items to see their dimensions, after you have done that you can find materials wholesaled on Amazon, Office Depot, and Staples.
Another great option is Papermart they have a multitude of products to help you with your packaging needs.
One of the downsides I personally do not like about UPS being a small retailer was I had to handwrite clients and my information on their forms. When you are ordering from stores like Nordstrom they have big accounts with them so yeah, they don’t have to do that. That is something to add to your pro con list of providers. Shipping labels really do matter in my eyes. It shows a standard of professionalism for your small business. Your labels also go back to the shipping software you use. You can purchase Avery labels for USPS’ Click and Ship, Stamps.com, and Endicia. They work with those softwares. Best option is purchase in bulk vs running to the store constantly.
Quick question, when you are shopping are you more likely to spend more money with a company that offers free shipping or with one that charges for standard shipping? I am guessing you picked free shipping. Who doesn’t like the option to not paying for shipping. Your current and future customers want that option. How do you offer that and not lose profit over a high expense? Simply by including the cost in your products. Most big retailers already do this. You can do the same. On average, I tell my clients to factor in $5-$10 per item cost to cover shipping. You can still have priority, next day, and same day shipping options. The free shipping option entices customers to spend more.
Shipping Policies and more
It’s extremely important to have designated days that you focus on processing and shipping orders. I know most small business owners still have 9 to 5’s that help fund their businesses. However, your customers want their packages in a timely manner. You should be dropping off packages 2-4 days out of the week. Depending on the number of orders you are receiving.
In addition to that, make sure you have a processing policy. Letting customers know how many days it takes to process the order before it actually ships. Then providing a shipping policy. Letting them know standard shipping is x amount of days, which is typically 7-10 business days, priority is 2-4 days, and next day is next day before a set time. Having these policies will help you.
How has your small business been handling its shipping? What are new things do you want to implement in 2015? Are you needing more insight on shipping for small business?
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Photography image by Elliot