Companies have always relied on shipping to bookend the success of their business, but the uncertainty of pandemics and supply chain issues have put the importance of shipping front and center. What good is a product sold if it never reaches its destination?
Let’s cover how to find your shipping habits, improve our shipping relationships, and be profit minded in our shipping process
Find Your Shipping Habits
What types of habits can you identify in your business? Do you ship everyday, or have have heavier outbounds during certain days or times of the week? How do holiday impact your shipping volume?
Understanding your ordering needs and your customers’ ordering habits will help you pick the right carriers, price and speed dependant, while having alternatives on standby–don’t wait until the busy season to find yours!
To assist in your habit identification, make technology your friend. Companies like Shippo, Starship, and others offer advanced tools to help you with your shipping, costs, and carrier library. The shipping industry at large has expanded with more options and carriers to choose from, meaning it’s more important than ever to integrate these tools as much as possible.
Along with shipping solutions, incorporate a Warehouse Solution to reduce the time spend picking your orders and get more shipped in less time.
Have you narrowed down your habits? Good, it’s time to adjust. Shipping is not a set-and-forget aspect of business, but benefits from paying attention to market changes and monitoring ecommonic indicators that can serve as a forecast of change to come. Given the global market we all work within, even fluctuations in gas prices can have a longterm impact on your own costs.
Improve Shipping Relationships
Even the word “shipping” often implies the big names and colors, be it purple and orange, brown, blue, or yellow, but sometimes we need to think smaller. By incorporating both national and regional carriers, your business can cover the entire states, but also have cost effective options for the deliveries that are “down the street”.
Arming yourself with more shipping options also opens up a better relationship to tackle surges in supply, demand, and the wheels required to carry both. Talk with national, secondary, and tertiary carriers to understand volume discounts, shipping contracts, and expected volume to preventatively address possible demand surges. This requires more work up front, but provides long-term health for your business. You can’t deliver a great customer experience if you cannot deliver their order.
Similar to keeping track of market changes that affect your business, pay attention to markets that your own goods come from, nationally or globally. An impact in metal production in Canada could affect your fabrication business, and your metal sheet stock level may need to be temporary adjusted to prevent your own shortages.
In addition to tracking markets, pay attention to foreign market requirements that affect customs, taxes, or tariffs. Across the pond, changes in EU regulations can affect the required taxes prior to item releases, which can wreck havoc on revenue if not accounted for. If your business intends to buy an sell internationally, reach out to your shipping providers for their international representative to get answers specific to your business.
The right software can provide insight into your your shipping, and provide actionable measurements, allowing you to address concerns with carriers and ensure you’re getting what you paid for. It will also allow for an easier and more accurate return process, which is becoming increasingly more valuable for customers, especially end users.
You’ve built carrier relationships, now continue to negotiate shipping terms to balance costs with customers’ needs in mind. Proactively communicate with sales reps at your carriers to get ahead of capacity issues, upcoming international changes,and then ensure your own production is scaleable to delivery.
Profit Minded Shipping
We talk about ecommerce alot, and we need to keep driving the point home; online sales are expected to reach over $5.9 trillion by year’s end, and B2B businesses need to catch a vision of its role in their revenue, and include it within their shipping strategy.
Start by choosing the right ecommerce platform(s) that integrate seamlessly with your shipping providers. This allows for automatic tracking and real-time updates on the status of the package, which is crucial for providing a positive customer experience.
Offering free shipping often incentivize customers to make purchases, but this cost can be offset by incorporating it into the price of the product. Other shipping options, like faster delivery times or volume discounts, can also incentivize a purchase, but be mindful of transparency in your options so customers can have real expectations of costs and delivery times. Remember, shipping is as much about your customer as it is your business’ success.
Ecommerce means electronic solutions, like using an electronic (web) portal for B2B Sales, where customers can order any time of the day, while the system also provides the required item accounting, pricing rules, and user access to keep the business backend running smoothly.
For businesses that frequently sell to large chain stores or deal with EDI requirements, connecting your inventory systems into an EDI provider will save the time involved and create a faster shipment turnaround time.
You’ve incorporated more eCommerce channels and connected your systems to your inventory? Great, see if you can repeat that process for another sales avenue. Your business is not limited to one ECommerce channel, or one type of selling process. As you add another channel or “cart”, incorporate a Multi-Cart to pull incoming sales orders and inventory data into one central hub. More time saved, more money made.
A successful shipping strategy is crucial to any business, and it requires understanding your shipping habits, building strong relationships with carriers, using technology to streamline the process, and being profit-minded. By doing so, businesses can provide a positive customer experience, balance costs with customers’ needs in mind, and catch a vision of the role of online sales in revenue.
If your business can use a hand in being more profit-minded in its inventory management, or wants to know how to add eCommerce value, get started here←.