Running any small business comes with a daily list of stresses and decisions. Without the well-developed network and infrastructure of bigger competitors, the little guys are left to go it alone. Something every business must contend with, big or small, no matter the industry, is shipping costs. A small business’s bottom line can be significantly affected by the simple act of shipping boxes. Your merchandise is your business, and getting it into the hands of paying customers, quickly and securely, is highly important to your success. In order to remove the stresses and burdens of shipping, it is vital that any business owner plan ahead and consider the following factors.
Organize Around Common Shipments
All the big shipping providers, the United States Post Office, FedEx, UPS, or DHL, retain the services of a small-business specialist, so make use of this important contact. The specialist can help you align their fees and service requirements with the shipping needs of your business, including modes of transport and timing of deliveries. Business owners that work closely with their shipping providers can save upwards of 40 percent on shipping fees, each year.
Clarify Customer Charge-Backs
With any business, big or small, sometimes the customer pays for shipping and sometimes the business fronts this cost. What is important is to formalize the shipping rules and make them readily available to customers and staff alike. If, for instance, your company pays standard shipping, but customers cover any expedited costs, make sure that customers are aware of, and agree to, this policy.
Put the Postage Meter to Work
Having a postage meter on hand is, of course, an added cost, but it is still estimated that leasing one of these machines, for as little as $20 a month, can save more than 20 percent each year in shipping costs. These easy-to-use machines, with a scale attached, eliminate over-paying for postage, and the hassle, time, and cost of regular trips to your shipping company’s offices.
Consolidate Where You Can
This is a common practice, particularly with smaller businesses, where companies that frequently ship amounts smaller than a full truckload, work with a freight consolidation service to combine shipments with those of other companies. The cheapest method is to have a full truckload of merchandise, but that can’t always be the case, so be sure to utilize this option when needed.
Keep Tabs on Your Carrier
This should be obvious, but it goes without saying, work with your carrier to make sure pickups, deliveries, customer service response times, online tracking, and deadlines are being met. When issues do arise, address them and don’t be afraid to shop around to competitors. Hand in hand with this, is to keep in contact with your customers and make sure they are receiving their shipments when and where the carriers say they are.
There’s no reason to make the running and operating of a small business any more stressful than it needs to be. Every business will need to ship and receive items at some point, so put a framework in place to make sure you are getting the best value for you money, and make shipping boxes one less stress on the list, and one more component in your success.