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Minimizing Inefficiencies in Shipping for Small Businesses

3 Mins read

Many businesses frequently encounter shipping inefficiencies, but their implications are more pronounced for smaller companies entering the market. Discover some of the prevalent transportation challenges startups face and learn strategies to overcome them.

High Shipping Costs for Small Businesses

Rising costs can challenge an enterprise’s sustainability and growth, which are associated with several factors, such as the growing demand for fast deliveries, increased fuel costs and labor expenses. A slight increase in prices can negatively affect the bottom line. There is also a need for logistics companies to provide more affordable shipping costs for small businesses.

Limited Resources

Effective inventory management is the foundation of a successful venture. Finding the balance between consumer demand and adequate supply is crucial for a smooth-sailing operation. Inadequate staff and lack of access to modern equipment can impede shipping operations and slow down processes, potentially leading to delayed shipments.

Lack of Automated Systems

A small business’ shipping automation refers to streamlining operations with software, infrastructure, or technology to increase efficiency and reduce human error. It complements your human labor, freeing employees to focus on more crucial endeavors.

A shortage of automated systems may cause challenges when streamlining your processes. As a small business owner, you may believe it’s still too early to invest in automation. Unfortunately, it’s more challenging to scale a brand if you and your staff still manually enter order information and deal with customer inquiries.

Transportation Resources

Small business owners may need more access to dependable transportation services to meet customer needs. This could also mean their current service provider fails to meet their requirements. Shipping should entail comprehensive services, including inventory management, warehousing, order management, labeling and proper delivery of goods.

Damaged or Delayed Shipments

Another logistic inefficiency is the influx of damaged or lost goods, which can disrupt the whole supply chain process. Shipment delays and damages happen because of the following factors:

  • Traffic or inclement weather: These uncontrollable factors contribute to damaged and lost packages. For instance, stormy weather might compromise a sea vessel’s cargo.
  • Operational inefficiencies: Lapses in the internal processes on the logistic provider’s end can inadvertently cause supply chain disruptions in your company. One of the common problems couriers encounter is inefficient planning of routes, often caused by extensive shipping routes, delivery needs and vehicle specifications. Another issue is the misplacement of items, which can translate into irate customers.
  • Incorrect shipping details: Errors in shipping information — such as incorrect contact information or address — can lead to delivery delays.

Limited Shipping Locations

There will always be places that aren’t easily accessible and serviceable. This shipping problem can harm your enterprise, especially if your target market lives in those areas. In a worst-case scenario, you might consider audience retargeting.

Solutions to Minimize Shipping Inconveniences

As a small business owner, adapting to these inefficiencies and potential problems caused by unforeseen events is crucial. Here’s how you can minimize the impact of common obstacles.

Talk to Your Logistics Provider

Regular and transparent communication with your logistics partner can help you stay updated on potential roadblocks that might impact your deliveries. The ideal transportation services will value your partnership and constantly provide innovative solutions to meet your needs.

Automate Processes

Automation is crucial in any business, regardless of size. If your main issues are rooted in manual, repetitive tasks, consider investing in automated software systems to expedite shipping-related activities, such as tracking orders, processing invoices, managing inventory levels and providing real-time shipping updates. These measures can make shipping more seamless and practical.

Offer Free Shipping

Many retailers benefit from free shipping offers, but it might be unaffordable for smaller ventures. In 2021, 80% of consumers expect free shipping when ordering a certain amount of products online. Given the rising preference for this incentive, adapting to the demand is crucial.

One way to meet this demand is to require customers to spend a minimum amount to qualify for free shipping. This could help you provide affordable shipping costs with the added benefit of increased sales.

Leverage Technology

Keep your shipping operations organized with modern technology and software that updates timely shipments. These advancements can also assist by optimizing packaging and shipping solutions. For instance, an address verification system can reduce the risk of shipments arriving at incorrect addresses.

Consider investing in thermal printers — which don’t require usual ink cartridges — to print shipping labels. These devices take up less space in your packaging area, giving you more room for more crucial tasks.

Implement an Efficient Returns Management

A seamless returns management process is crucial for a satisfactory customer experience. Adopting a convenient return policy that prioritizes seamless resolution processes, flexible schedules and centralized return centers is essential. Ensure your return terms are simple to understand and publicized on your website and social media platforms. Lastly, allow visibility into your processes so customers know the status of their requests.

Take Action Today

Small businesses face issues regarding shipping costs that can impede operations. To alleviate these inefficiencies, prioritize technological investments and maintain transparent communication with your transportation service. These measures will ensure continuous customer satisfaction.

Jack Shaw, editor of Modded and author of numerous articles on business success and self-improvement, seeks to inspire readers with his practical tips and strategies for growth. His writings can be found on HellaWealth, USCCG and more.

Free Shipping stock image by anythings/Shutterstock

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