Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. If your business generates products that need to be shipped, you must understand the logistics of your operations and make sure they run seamlessly. The following contributed post is entitled, It’s Time to Focus On Your Small Business’ Shipping Options.
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As a small business owners, chances are that your thought process focuses mostly on developing products, manufacturing them, advertising them, and encouraging consumers to buy them. But processing a sale isn’t the end of your work. You need to make sure that your products can make their way to them too! Shipping is an extremely important business process, especially if you are based online. So, let’s take a moment to focus on shipping and how your business should deal with it!
The first type of shipping that you should focus on is national shipping. It’s highly likely that the majority of your customers are going to be from the country that your business is based in – especially when you are first starting out. But it’s still good to offer them a few different options when it comes to shipping. Different customers have different preferences and needs, and you want to cater to as many people as possible!
Every business should offer economy delivery. This is the most basic of the basics. Depending on the courier you use, items should generally be with their recipients within three to five business days. It tends to be a good option for customers who aren’t all too fussed about getting their items straight away and who have patience. The benefit of economy postage is that it tends to be the lowest cost option. It can save customers money and this is likely to boost sales, as it brings the overall price of purchasing and receiving the product down.
Next day delivery is a great option. Customers will have to pay more for it, but it does mean that they can have their goods the very next day, as long as they order before the deadline. Make sure that the deadline is set at a reasonable time that will allow you to source and package the product that they have requested and get it on its way to them. Increasing numbers of customers are leaving their shopping until last minute. This means that the option of next day delivery can make or break a sale – if they’re not going to get their item in time for when they need it, they’re not going to purchase it.
Same day delivery tends to remain in the territory of major corporations who have huge numbers of staff to fulfill orders extremely quickly. But it may be an option for locals who are interested in having products delivered nearby – you could take their purchase to them yourself!
While you don’t have to offer international shipping, it really is a good idea. At the end of the day, you never know where your next biggest market will be. If you are selling online, chances are that anyone with an internet connection can access your online store and browse your goods. Make sure that all of these people can make purchases if they want to! Sure, international postage can be expensive. But at the end of the day, you can just charge the customer the true cost of posting and if they really want the product, they’ll pay the full amount.
Shipping Hazardous Goods
When you send items via the national postal service or by courier, you will generally have to declare whether you are sending any hazardous goods. But it’s important that you familiarise yourself with what constitutes hazardous goods – there may be items included on the list that surprise you. Batteries are a good example of this. The majority of us wouldn’t consider batteries to be dangerous, but if they leaked or came into contact with heat, they could actually prove to be. Remember to ensure that any hazardous goods are packaged appropriately and declared. This will help postal staff to deal with the package safely and correctly. Battery packaging can be found at C.L. Smith. Other potentially hazardous items include:
• Biological Substances
• Clinical or medical waste
• Controlled drugs and narcotics
• Dry Ice
• More – you can find a list here.
It would be great if we could send anything that we sell as a standard parcel and know that it will definitely make its way to the customer and that the customer will be acknowledge its arrival. But, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are cases where items go missing in the post and don’t actually make their way to their recipient. There are also cases where dishonest people will claim that a parcel never arrived in a bid to keep its contents but receive a refund too – essentially getting the goods for free at our expense. So, if you are sending an item that is of particular value, chances are that you don’t want to risk this. You can combat these potential issues by sending your packages with tracking. This means that you will be able to see updates on the parcel’s progressing, seeing where it made it to and determining when and where it went missing if this were to happen. It also means that in order to take the package, someone will have to sign for it. People cannot then falsely claim that it hasn’t arrived. Sure, tracked postage costs more. But if the item you’re sending is of value, then the extra postage costs are more than worth it.
Returns and Exchanges
There’s always a chance that customers will want to return or exchange their products. So, to make this process as simple as possible for all involved, you might want to include a returns label in their package. If they don’t like what they’ve got, they can simply package it back up and stick the returns label on. This means that they won’t get the wrong address and the item will make its way back to you.
Shipping might not be the most exciting business topic, but it is essential. So, make sure that you’re doing it properly and offering your customers sufficient choice. This could help you to make a whole lot more profit in the long run!