Improving Your Small Business’s Shipping Process When You’re Not a Cargo Company
[This article was written by Anita Ginsburg.]
With current events, more and more consumers are turning to online shopping than ever before. With this surge, many businesses are having to improve their shipping processes, especially if they didn’t do much shipping before.
Companies that ship products to customers need a reliable process to ensure timely arrival with undamaged goods. Without a shipping department to specifically handle the deliveries, it is important to establish a process that is professional and reliable. Effective shipping procedures should include the following elements.
Consistent packing methods are needed to ensure quality control in sending products to various locations. A written or digital checklist should be followed and processed to ensure that the customer receives an accurate order at the correct location by the designated delivery date.
Make sure all your employees are trained on the proper packaging procedures. When the guidelines are followed by everyone involved and double-checked for accuracy, the process can be streamlined and more likely to reach its destination on schedule.
Professional quality shipping boxes, foam cushions, and other supplies should be kept on hand in a specific department or area of the company for this purpose. They should conform to the United States Post Office standards as well as long-range shipping practices like those used by FedEx or UPS. Tape, markers, packing receipts, and shipping labels should be kept in stock and in good condition to be used as needed.
Postage and Delivery Service
If you can arrange postal or long-range pickup service, make sure all packages going out each day are clearly marked, correctly packed, and ready for pickup at the predetermined time. Some companies take their products to the post office or shipping agent, so again, you will need to remind employees to have everything packed and ready to go by the time the staff member is ready to leave for the shipping locations. Developing a regular schedule for the process will make it easier for everyone to follow.
Tracking and Confirmation of Receipt
Appoint an employee or a department to track packages, especially those that do not arrive on time. This department will be the one to respond if a customer calls to complain about a shipment. Maintain up-to-date files and records of packing slips, invoices, and delivery directions for handy reference if needed. Set up a shipping connection with the companies that handle your deliveries so you can track packages as needed or provide delivery information when customers call to inquire about an order that has already shipped.
Your company’s employees don’t have to be professionally trained in domestic or international shipping procedures. But you should provide adequate information to establish clear-cut shipping policies that are clearly understood and easy to follow. Deliveries that arrive on time in good condition keep customers coming back for repeat business.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.