Shipping packages to customers can be a giant headache for small businesses. We’ve had to develop some solid shipping practices through trial and error. Here are my top small business shipping tips to help you avoid some of the mistakes we made.
Hey, y’all! Shipping packages can be a nightmare for small businesses if it’s not done correctly. It’s a time-consuming process that takes a lot of space, attention to detail, and can be costly.
Over the last 6 months, we have shipped over 10,000 packages all across the country, and yes- we did it ourselves! We did the unthinkable and started shipping ourselves, from our own warehouse, with our own fulfillment team. We have made plenty of mistakes and enjoyed some successes too. In other words, it’s been nothing short of a MAJOR learning experience.
I’ve been hands-on with the entire experience, personally touching at least 95% of all those packages. So, I’m intimately aware of all the success and setbacks we’ve faced!
And, I know that the challenges we faced are no different from many other small businesses. So, as part of my ongoing mission to save you some of the confusion, headaches, and holes to dig out of, I wanted to share with you what we learned along the way. Here are my top 5 packing and small business shipping tips!
If you’re a Craftpreneur who’s looking for information to help grow their business, make sure you check out Business Laptop Recommendations To Propel Your Business and Creating Your Small Business Budget.
5 Sanity-Saving Small Business Shipping Tips
Maybe it’s my engineer brain, but I dive into processes and workflows like a madman! I guess I love seeing things move from chaos to order. And, I’m sharing our processes with you with the hope that it helps you tighten up and smooth out your shipping procedures.
Now, I’m not saying we are the perfect well-oiled machine, by any stretch of the imagination. But, I can say with 100% confidence that we have learned A LOT and these tips have definitely made managing the DecoExchange warehouse a whole lot more manageable.
Plus, perfection is overrated…just sayin’, y’all!
Let’s dive in.
1. Buy In Bulk
It’s no secret that buying in bulk means cheaper prices, but when you are scaling your business every dollar counts.
Even if you’re only sending a few packages each week or month, plan for the future. This will be especially helpful if you have the space to store shipping items, and slightly problematic if you don’t (but still REALLY worth it). Whether it’s boxes, packing tape, or labels, try to plan in advance.
Not only will the bulk discount help reduce your expense amount, but the savings in shipping costs to get the products to you will be another savings for you! How’s that for one of the best small business shipping tips?
2. Work In Batches As Much As Possible
For those of you who are unfamiliar, batching is when you group similar tasks and complete them together rather than working in a linear process for every single task.
For example, I have 20 orders for the same item, and each item takes 3 steps to complete. It has been proven time and time again that batching 20 orders will be faster than completing the orders one by one.
Let me explain:
- Scenario 1: Step 1 -> Step 2 -> Step 3 -> Order complete -> repeat 19 more times = Job done
- Scenario 2: Step 1 (repeat 20 times) -> step 2 (repeat 20 times) -> step 3 (repeat 20 times) = Job done
The best “real-life” example I can give you is our subscription box service. It is about 3 times quicker to fill the boxes in a batch process than it would be to fill one box at a time. On a normal day, we can fill around 200 orders. But for subscription boxes, we can fill upwards of 800 orders in a day.
And, that’s simply because we can batch the process whereas we can’t do the same thing with normal orders.
3. Best Small Business Shopping Tips: Shop Around
A little healthy competition is good for everyone. We reached out to FedEx and UPS about 9 months after we opened our warehouse.
After showing both companies our shipping history, weights, zip codes, box sizes, etc., we basically had them bid against each other and negotiated some better shipping rates. This one task alone reduced our average shipping cost from $19 a package down to $12 a package – OVERNIGHT!
If just those numbers alone weren’t enough of a justification; here’s another way to look at it – getting some competitive rates in place saved us/our customers around $70,000 in shipping this year… which makes for happier (repeat) customers and helps our business grow!
4. Master The Shake Test
When it comes to small business shipping tips, this tip is simple but essential: pack your box, hold it in your hands and flip it over.
Did you hear anything? If you hear something moving/shuffling/tumbling, you did a bad job in packing the order. You want your order to be as tightly packed as possible without crushing anything to protect the packed items.
I’m nearly convinced that some package carriers body slam your packages on the way to the customer…but who really knows what goes on behind closed doors?
Whether it’s true or not, put your items in a box that’s as small as possible without compromising the items. Invest in some bubble wrap, packing peanuts, zip ties, and strap the product down inside the box if you have to.
Note: Check out Best Way to Box And Ship A Wreath for more packing tips!
5. Invest In A Shipping Management Software
Our go-to is ShipStation because it can compare every shipping rate we have access to (yes even negotiated rates). It connects and works with all of our e-commerce sites, and it also allows us to batch print with ease.
ShipStation keeps our process streamlined. It’s an “all in one” solution so I don’t have to shuffle between 20 different tabs and calculate 3 different rates to ship a box. It’s all there, calculated simultaneously, and lets us know on one screen.
Got any small business shipping tips you swear by? Share away in the comments below.
If you are interested in more info on growing your e-commerce business, come join us over at Damon Oates Business Architect on Facebook.
Do More With These Small Business Shipping Tips
Getting a small business up and running…and then scaling it is hard and often fraught with challenges. If you’re looking for some help with your small business, check out these helpful posts. And don’t forget to give our Makers Mean Business Podcast a listen!
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As always, feel free to leave us a comment below or share this post with a friend. We appreciate getting your feedback and can’t way to provide y’all with more amazing content!
If you’re in need of any help with bow-making, wreath-making, or crafting in general, be sure to check out more of our tutorials on How to Make Wreaths.
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