Whether your business ships several hundred packages a month or just a handful, there's value in making sure you're doing it properly. Avoid spending too much money, wasting time on fulfillment, or failing to protect the products you send by following these simple tips and tricks.
Don't pay to ship excess space and weight
One of the most important aspects of efficient packaging is choosing boxes that fit your items easily and safely without leaving unnecessary excess space or adding excess bulk. Size and weight determine how much you'll pay to send your item, and nothing runs up costs more quickly than paying for superfluous space.
Tip: Test a few different sizes and styles of shipping products and focus on finding ones that work for as wide a range of products as possible - you won't want to have to keep dozens of different box sizes on hand.
Standardize your systems
Decision-making leads to delays in fulfillment and delivery, so take thinking out of the equation for packers by coming up with clear guidelines.
Tip: Create a checklist that breaks down each step of the process so every employee knows the necessary steps, from picking the right-sized box to knowing how items should be placed in order to protect against damage, and how to properly seal containers before they're shipped.
Organize your warehouse effectively
The better you organize the area where products are warehoused and packed, the better you'll be able to handle fulfillment. Keep best-selling items close to the packing area (or pre-pack them if you prefer) and store them on easy-to-reach shelves. Don't put heavy items up high - it just makes them harder to access. If certain products are often sold together, make sure they're kept next to one another in your warehouse. Label aisles and shelves with large, clear signs so no one has to spend too much time searching for items. Finally, set up your packing area so all necessary materials, such as scissors, tape, and labels, are laid out in a logical, orderly fashion.
Tip: Set aside space to store items that have been sold but not packed, and clear another spot for orders that have been packed but are waiting to be shipped. The less clutter and confusion in your system, the better off things will be.
Get ready ahead of busy sales periods
Every retailer knows the weeks leading up the Christmas holidays, starting with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, will see serious increases in sales. Chances are, however, that there are other stretches of the year when you'll be busier than usual. Expedite order fulfillment during periods of peak demand by preparing packaging materials in advance.
Tip: Prior to peak periods, bring in extra staff to pre-build shipping boxes, fill them with packing peanuts or bubble wrap, and attach basic labels. If there are certain products you expect to sell a lot of, pack a whole bunch of orders in advance. The more work you do ahead of time, the easier it will be to ensure your deliveries arrive in time for key holidays.
Quality packing materials are worth the cost
Resist the temptation to cut corners when it comes to buying boxes and packing materials, such as foam caps, polystyrene peanuts, and bubble wrap. The extra money you spend on higher quality products will add up over time, but those costs will be offset by avoiding losses from damaged and broken items,
Tip: The added protection you get from using top choice materials lets you to ship items in smaller boxes, reducing shipping costs.
Communicate shipping policies to your customers
Customer relations are an essential part of good business; so don't forget about the questions and concerns of buyers when it comes to shipping and delivery issues.
Tip: Build a FAQ page for your website with answers to common questions about order fulfillment, returns, and delivery times. Update it to reflect any changes at busy times of year and include contact details for customers who can't find the information they need.
Verify addresses for new customers
From time to time, buyers will input an incorrect or out-of-date address into an order form. Send a shipment there, and it will end up back at your business or lost.
Tip: Before shipping to any new customer, verify their destination address is correct. A few seconds now could save you headaches and hassles later on.
You can also use our AddressComplete™ tool to verify your customer's address instantly and easily.
Avoid price surprises by using a shipping calculator
Before you set shipping prices for your products, make sure you have a sense of what it's actually going to cost to get them to your customers' mailboxes. The best way to do that is by using a shipping calculator. Enter the dimensions and weight of your package, and the destination, and you'll get an estimate of the final price.
Whether you're starting a new business, or looking to update current protocols, your packing and shipping procedures can probably use a once over. Make these processes as efficient as possible and you're sure to end up saving time and money in the long run.
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