If you run a small business, how do you handle shipping? Do you regularly pile your packages into your car before driving to the post office to wait in line?
Consider switching to a shipping carrier instead. Business shipping is now more than a necessary cost center. It defines the customer experience and brand loyalty.
In this article, we explore 7 small business shipping tips that will help you reinforce your brand and deliver on customer expectations. Read on.
1. Small Business Shipping Tips 101: Understand How DIM Works
When it comes to the rating structures, restrictions and requirements, different shipping carriers and service providers bring different things to the table.
Nevertheless, there are two primary methods most carriers use to calculate their shipping costs. Do a side by side comparison of the costs associated with each method to ensure that shipping your products to your customers doesn’t break the bank or your budget.
Dimensional Weight (DIM)
As the name suggests, the dimensional weight or DIM for short is a metric based on the size of the package rather than its actual weight. Most carriers compare the parcel’s actual weight versus its DIM.
They’ll then charge you based on whichever amount is higher between the two. This essentially means that it’ll cost you more to ship large light parcels than smaller heavier ones. You obtain the DIM rate as follows:
(Length * Width * Height) / DIM Factor
The higher the DIM factor is, the lower the shipping rate will be. So, look for the carrier that has the highest DIM Factor
In this arrangement, you pay a standardized fee regardless of the weight of the parcel. Most carriers offer some kind of standard flat rate fee. For instance, you would pay a flat shipping fee for parcels that weight between 0 lbs. and 70 lbs.
Most small business owners don’t realize that they can negotiate with their shipping carrier more so if they get into a long term arrangement with them. Once you receive shipping quote information do a rate comparison from different carriers in the industry.
Next, negotiate with your top picks to see who gives you the best deal in terms of small business shipping solutions. You don’t need to tie yourself down to one carrier either.
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You can use different carriers for each of your small business shipping needs. That way, you get the best deal that each carrier has to offer.
3. Include Shipping Costs in the Final Bill
Failing to include the cost of shipping in the final bill to the customer is a rookie mistake. Ensure that your customer billing statement explicitly states the cost of shipping the product.
If you fail to include this, the burden of footing these costs falls squarely on your business. On the other hand, the customer might be required to pay for the shipping costs on delivery.
Needless to say, this will leave a bad taste in their mouth. It might cost you any repeat business they would have given you.
4. Carry out Periodic Audits
When you’re running a small business, you need to keep track of every single penny. This includes carrying out periodic audits of your shipping invoices.
It is not uncommon for carriers to make errors in their billing from time to time. The only way to catch these omissions or commissions is to go through your invoices. Catching these errors not only saves your business money, but it also helps the carrier improve on the quality of their services.
5. Track Your Orders in Real Time
As your business grows you need to find an effective way of tracking all your outgoing orders. Manual tracking can be quite cumbersome, to say the least.
Use a carrier that provides real-time updates on the status of your deliveries. That way you can stay one step ahead of delays and inform your customers in good time. This ensures that your business upholds customer satisfaction regardless of any unforeseeable issues that may arise during transit.
6. Shipping for Small Business: Quality Packaging Matters
At the risk of stating the obvious, if you don’t package your product well, it could get damaged in transit. The shipping process mounts a lot of physical pressure on your parcel.
Remember, it’s one among hundreds of other items that also need to be shipped. So, ensure that you surround your product with a generous amount of protective packaging material.
You can never have too much shock-absorbent material. There’s nothing more disheartening than to hear that your customer received a damaged product. So, don’t be frugal with the amount of protective packaging you put in there.
7. Schedule Your Carrier Pickups
Scheduling your pickups is perhaps one of the most important small business shipping tips you have to implement. Most carriers allow you to schedule pickups.
A representative of your carrier comes to your office or warehouse to collect your packages before inputting them into the shipping stream. All you have to do is specify a pickup window with your carrier and they’ll do it for you at a small fee.
The Bottom Line
Most small business owners figure out shipping as they go along. Use the small business shipping tips in this guide to get it right from the get-go.
With all the small business shipping options at your disposal pick a carrier that serves your specific business needs. This will enable you to deliver on your customer expectations.
Check out our blog for more helpful tips for your small business.