USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL — None of these shipping providers will be a good fit if you don’t know what to look for in a freight partner.
Finding your ideal shipping company can be a difficult process, especially if you own a small business. You can’t just run to the post office and expect to find a solution that meets all of your small business shipping needs. Don’t compare real-time quotes, then pick the lowest price either. Instead, start by looking for companies that solve common freight problems and streamline ground service. Here’s a guide that can help small business owners make informed decisions about their shipping solutions:
Where to Start
Make a list of common issues you face and look to various shipping sites to see if they offer incentives to help solve these challenges. Common issues that your company may face include:
- Your customers want cheap or free shipping:
Recent poll data shows that nine out of 10 consumers in the United States consider free shipping to be the No. 1 incentive for choosing where to shop online. Distributors have also started to demand lower shipping rates. That means the more expensive shipping is, the more it hurts your bottom line. Therefore, shippers that offer healthy incentives for repeat business or early bookings can make great long-term business partners.
- Your customers don’t want to wait for packages:
While four to six week shipping times used to be typical, Amazon has set a new e-commerce market standard of one to two days. Now, people — including consumers and retailers alike — don’t want to wait longer than a few days for a package. To meet your client’s expectations, look for companies that streamline the shipping process, schedule pickups and deliveries, and offer competitive delivery time frames.
- Mitigating damage is important:
It can really hurt when your shipment arrives at your destination with damage. Having money tied up while you wait out the claim process can cause inventory issues and other problems. Receiving damaged goods can also hurt customer relationships. Look for a company that has respectable shipping methods and a good track record of little to no damage.
- Low, competitive rates are critical:
Thanks to the high cost of low-volume shipments, packaging and shipping charges can equal as much as 35% of your total-sale shipping costs. Look for companies that offer bulk discounts and other incentives that can minimize shipping’s impact on your bottom line.
Incentives to Look For
- No contract or minimum shipping requirements:
If sale revenues frequently vary from month to month, it’s best to avoid committing to minimums and contracts.
- Early-bird shipping discounts:
Some companies offer discounted rates for peak shipping times if you book in advance. If your orders typically come in with a good amount of lead time, this can be an excellent incentive to take advantage of.
- Shop dates to find low shipping rates:
Look for a shipping company that lets you pull online quotes for different dates and times. Having the flexibility to ship on your schedule and do thorough homework can save you lots of money in the long run.
Small business owners of both online stores and brick-and-mortar retailers know using their money wisely is critical to running healthy businesses, but comparing freight rates often doesn’t give them enough information about shipping services. Research incentives and evaluate which shipping company offers the most monetary savings in the long term. Doing so will help you more effectively weigh your shipping options and choose your ideal partner for order fulfillment. From there, you can develop a sound shipping strategy that helps you move freight on your own terms.
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