Online business is not a new practice as the rise of the Internet quickly brought digital companies and storefronts to the general population. As the Internet becomes more complex and capable of holding more data than ever, there are more new online businesses than ever before. New businesses often focus on the digital storefront, inventory, and marketing more than shipping, as too many assume third-party shipping carriers will take care of the most complex parts. While third-party carriers and shipping companies can help, it often comes down to the business to figure out most of the shipping process workflows. Shipping is a complicated system that relies on a network of domestic and international connections to get every order where it needs to go. For businesses just entering the online space, shipping can be an additional thorn on your side, but with the right tips and tricks, you can get your eCommerce business set up. Below are just a few suggestions and critical elements to keep in mind when you first set up shipping for your eCommerce business.
Centralized Shipping Start Point
Shipping is messy enough as is, so you should take every opportunity to make it simpler and easier to manage. One of the best ways to keep everything simple is to have everything in one location. Warehouse shipping is one of the most common practices for a reason as it keeps everything in one central location rather than collecting parts from separate locations. Keeping your inventory and shipping supplies in the same place lets you quickly pull stock, pack it up, and ship it out without needing to change buildings. The more steps you can eliminate, the more errors you are potentially eliminating so the process can flow smoothly in one place.
Packaging Matters More Than You Might Think
It can be tempting to think once your items go in a box and are shipped out that they will make it to the customer in the same condition, but that doesn’t always happen. Shipping is rarely a delicate process, and many boxes arrive bashed, crushed, or dented. How you package your orders is a large part of what determines the condition of the box and the items inside upon delivery. You must also consider the type of packaging materials you use as typical materials are not environmentally friendly, an issue more customers care about today than ever before.
Invest in corn starch or alternative packing peanuts rather than the typical styrofoam peanuts. Try to use better foams than styrofoam for box bumpers and corner protectors, as there are plenty of better foams that are less ecologically damaging. You can also use recycled paper to wrap items or take up empty space in a box. For delicate and awkwardly shaped items, look into thermal reactive expanding foam sheets that will conform to the odd shapes and protect the items.
You may not want to invest all the time and effort into finding better packaging materials, but it will save you money in the long run. Suppose you stick with inferior shipping materials and packing processes. In that case, you will end up paying more to replace items that are broken upon arrival than you will upgrade your packaging. It is also worth running test shipments so you can see exactly what the box looks like after a long trip, and you can adjust your methods to solve the most common damages.
Verification, Confirmation, And Tracking
With online shipping, most customers will manually type in their information and address that they want the order shipped. However, just because a customer enters their address does not mean the carriers will recognize it and deliver the order to the right home. A simple tool, plug-in, or API can check or verify the customer’s address against mail services to ensure it is a valid address and correct addresses that do not make sense.
Once you are sure the delivery address is correct, you should send a confirmation email to your customer to let them know the order is valid and is on the way. A confirmation email is another perfect opportunity for branding or extra marketing while providing a service. You should also send your customer any tracking information so they can keep an eye out for the delivery. These extra emails take very little time and effort but make a big difference for your customers.
Shipping can be a headache-inducing network to navigate and work within, but there are ways a new small business can make it more manageable. Use warehouse shipping to keep things centralized, make eco-friendly packaging a priority to reduce damaged orders, and use address verification to ensure orders are going to the right place.