One of the trickiest areas for small to medium size e-commerce businesses is streamlining shipping and fulfillment. Packing merchandise with care and then shipping it on time can become both complicated and costly.
If not done right, you can seriously end up hurting your bottom line. However, with effective planning, you’ll be able to land opportunities that can turn a one-time buyer into a loyal customer and advocate.
Here are 7 tips that have been tried and tested, and have saved me a lot of time and money in shipping and fulfillment. So, buckle your safety belts, and let's get started!
1. Buy packaging in bulk
Take a look at your packaging material and think of ways to reduce the cost. Are you buying in bulk? If not, you’re probably spending way too much on packaging.
Don’t just focus on the packaging material. Consider the protective layers that you might be using for packing. Stamps, envelopes, and everything else that is required for packaging can be purchased in bulk and stored at your facility.
2. Consolidate your LTL shipments
If you're sending small freight that doesn’t fill an entire truck (i.e. less than a truckload or LTL), you might want to consider a freight consolidation service. This way, your shipment gets shipped along with others to make a full truckload. Since the truck is shared, you share the cost too. This is another great way to cut costs, especially when your shipment amount is low and shipping time is flexible.
3. Watch your weight
Have you invested in a parcel scale? If not, then it’s high time you do. Weighing your merchandise and packing materials beforehand will help you get an estimate on the shipment charges. Choose packing material sensibly, ideally something lighter but sturdy enough to protect your goods while in transit. You might want to consider getting a postage meter that can weigh the parcel and estimate the shipment charges as well.
4. Opt for alternatives
When it comes to packing materials, most of us resort to bubble wrap and foam peanuts. There are tons of packing materials that offer the same support but are often cheaper. For example, recycled old newspapers, magazines, wood chip material can work the same, but can save you a lot every month depending upon your shipment size.
5. Consider freight services
Freight services work great if you are sending a large order. However, if you’re considering using a freight service, you need to first ensure that your customer won’t be deterred by their shipments arriving on different dates. Keep in mind that freight services work out best for large order sizes.
6. Have a transportation cost charge-back policy in place
It is important that you have a transportation cost charge-back policy in place. Once you have it, ensure you communicate it to your customers as well as your sales and customer service guys who deal directly with customers. The policy should clearly mention that when the company will pay for the transit charges (like a standard shipment) and when a customer needs to bear the cost (express delivery/overnight air, etc.).
7. Consider outsourcing your shipping
Outsourcing is not only a cost-effective solution, but it also enables you to shoulder off other responsibilities like warehouse management, personnel costs, supply chain management and claims.
If you're an e-commerce business looking for a cost-effective e-commerce fulfillment solution, check out eShipper. We are a third party logistics provider (3PL) that offers automated shipping and e-commerce fulfillment for businesses of any size. Contact us for a free logistics consultation.
Zahera is an entrepreneur with a background in fashion and design. She took her passion, found a gap, created a brand, then taught herself how to sell and market to her niche. She now sells modest apparel internationally and teaches others how to start and successfully run their own businesses. Follow her on instagram: @zahera_eshipper.