Small businesses have been growing by leaps and bounds recently, especially when it comes to e-commerce businesses. With the internet making it easier than ever for small businesses to compete with larger ones, there are more opportunities to go into business for yourself and stake a claim in your particular business sector.
However, there are some considerable drawbacks to this rampant growth. While global marketplaces mean increased customer bases to market to, this also means that successful small businesses will need to find a product delivery solution that is both fast and reliable.
Delays in receiving, shipments sent out with incorrect products, shipments sent to the wrong address, or any other number of issues can end up throwing a major wrench into the ability of your small business to fulfill orders and retain customers. However, these challenges can be overcome.
Here are a handful of the most common issues you’re likely to run into — and what you can do to ensure these obstacles don’t slow your company down in the long run.
Ensure You’re Using the Appropriate Packaging
First things first: you have an obligation to ensure the products your customers order, arrive at their final destination intact and in good condition. Nothing ends up eroding consumers confidence as quickly as earning a reputation for sending out packages that end up getting damaged or broken in transit. While there will be some flex on this issue — more durable or resilient products will not require as much careful packaging as more fragile products — the fact remains that if you’re not safeguarding your products by packaging them appropriately, you’re simply asking for trouble.
Choosing packaging isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think. As long as it’s in line with the requirements set out by the delivery companies you use — and the packaging itself is environmentally friendly — there’s honestly not much to it. While you will have to monitor the additional costs of packaging to your overhead, there are ways to reduce this impact, especially if you reuse appropriate packaging from received inventory to supplement if applicable. Biodegradable packing peanuts are a favourite of many small businesses, as they are both efficient in keeping products safe while shipping and showcasing your company’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
Choose the Most Appropriate Delivery Option
While taking steps to ensure your products are packaged in ways that guarantee their arrival intact at their final destination is crucial, you also need to choose a delivery option that is appropriate for your company. There are, of course, a number of factors that go into selecting the best delivery option, and these factors are highly dependent on things such as the types of products your customers are ordering, their size, their weight, and any requirements there may be for storage and retrieval. Businesses that ship perishable products, for example, will have a completely different set of requirements than those that ship non-perishable ones.
Your delivery service of choice needs to be able to handle your products quickly and safely in order to ensure turnaround is prompt and that customers receive their orders as promised. At the same time, you’ll need to find a service that’s efficient and cost-effective to reduce the strain on the finances of your small business.
Take a look at startup company ShipBob. They find the fastest and most cost-effective delivery options to small businesses looking for a delivery solution. ShipBob takes care of everything, they pick up the items, pack, ship and upload the tracking numbers onto their dashboard for you and your customers to stay in the loop - all you have to do is integrate your e-commerce store and place orders.
Shipping costs can easily balloon out of control if not monitored carefully, though investing in higher-quality delivery options often has its own reward in increased customer satisfaction.
Select a Reliable Planner
As small businesses grow, they often find it next to impossible to match the complexities of multitudes of deliveries. Large retail outfits and e-commerce giants have nearly limitless resources to devote to their own shipping and packaging efforts, leaving smaller companies in a less advantageous position. However, there are ways to minimize these negative aspects; one of the most effective methods is to partner with a courier with a well-earned reputation for reliability.
The market supports a number of couriers that specialise in catering to the needs of these smaller companies. Take, for example, route optimisation company MyRouteOnline, they help you optimise your delivery route, by time and distance to get you the fastest, shortest and most cost-effective route. With their reliable tool, you can enter up to 350 destinations to receive navigation directions and avoid backtracking, wasting valuable time, and guaranteeing that your customers receive their deliveries as promised.
So, any small business that is looking for a way to manage their multitudes of deliveries, should look for a tool like MyRouteOnline, as it will help mitigate and overcome the scaling challenges that small businesses naturally face.
Ensure Your Courier Has an Understanding of Your Business Needs
A good courier can be an excellent partner in the success of your small business. However, if you’re dealing with a courier that has a flawed or imperfect understanding of the needs of your specific business, there will be challenges you are going to have to face together. If your courier doesn’t know if your goods need to be delivered within a specific time period after being ordered, for instance, this lack of understanding will lead to the kind of disappointed customers that are entirely vocal in holding your business responsible.
It’s best to ensure your delivery service provider has the requisite experience in delivering perishable or fragile items. You’ll need to ensure that you communicate with your courier effectively to inform them of the specific requirements of your business. A shared understanding between your business and your chosen courier is the key to making sure deliveries to your customers are quick and cost-effective.
Take Care with Goods that Need Special Handling
Not everyone creates products that fit neatly into traditionally-shaped cardboard shipping boxes. Oversized products, unconventionally-shaped products, live animals, products that need to be kept in a specific orientation — whatever the case, if your goods need special handling, this needs to be something that your shipping company is made aware of in order to avoid disastrous deliveries.
Keep in mind, goods that require special handling will require more work and attention from your courier. As a result, shipping these non-traditional products is going to increase your costs by a proportionate amount. However, any increased shipping costs incurred on your part can often be incorporated into the sale price or the handling fees associated with your product, though this should be used sparingly to prevent customers from finding a different vendor than yourself.
Opt For Automated Delivery Tracking
If there is one single thing that can waste not just your time and energy but waste the time of your customers as well, it’s trying to find a delivery that went missing. Delivery tracking is an important facet of any logistical strategy, and the best way to overcome this particular challenge is to have access to a system that provides automated delivery tracking from the loading dock to your customer’s front door.
Whether you send high volumes of packages out of a warehouse or you’re operating out of your garage, you need an automated solution to keep your shipping records organized. For example, last mile delivery platform SendFast. They offer clients a last-mile logistics solution to all their delivery problems. At their core, they focus on having an easy-to-use platform, being efficient and instant. Also, with their incredible tracking feature, you can track the real-time status of all your deliveries and guarantee that no delivery ever goes missing.
Vendors that provide comprehensive package tracking make it easy for you to identify potential problems with deliveries, correct mistakes before they become an issue, and aid in keeping your customers satisfied.
The Final Word
If you’re a small business owner, you know your responsibilities. The buck stops with you, and that means the only one with the responsibility to not just identify the delivery challenges your company faces, but to ensure that you find solutions that overcome these challenges. No one ever said it was going to be an easy job, but following the guidelines above is an excellent jumping off point for ensuring your small business has its shipping and delivery issues well in hand.
While you might feel that there’s a high level of urgency to resolving any issues that you see possibly occurring, it’s important to take your time and ensure that the solutions you choose are implemented correctly. A little bit of time spent kicking the tires can have the benefit of preventing delays in shipments to customers in the future. Likewise, be sure to listen to your customers closely when it comes to what they would like to see regarding the packaging, and shipping of products they order from your company.
Taking the time to identify the possible challenges your company faces, receiving and analysing feedback provided by your customers, implementing changes by adopting best practices, and selecting an appropriate courier, all play a role in delivering your products effectively. Remember, your final goal is to keep your customers happy (and hopefully coming back for more), your ability to overcome logistical challenges related to shipping and delivery is limited only by your dedication.