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, in our own warehouse, with our own fulfillment team. I have personally touched at least 95% of those packages, and I wanted to share with you what we learned along the way. Here are my top 5 packing and shipping tips for small business.
5 SANITY SAVING SHIPPING TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
I dive into processes and workflows like a madman! I guess I love seeing things move from chaos to order. Now, I’m not saying we are the perfect well-oiled machine, but these tips have definitely made managing the DecoExchange warehouse a whole lot more manageable. Plus, perfection is overrated. Just sayin’ y’all!
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 are only sending a few packages a week/month, plan for the future, especially if you have the space to do so. Whether it be boxes, packing tape or labels, try and plan in advance – not only will the bulk discount help but the cost of shipping to get the products to you will be another savings for you.
BATCH WORK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
For those of you who are unfamiliar – batching is when you group similar tasks together, for example:
I have 20 orders for the same item, and each item takes 3 steps to complete.
It has 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. In a normal day, we can fill around 200 orders. But for subscription boxes we can fill upwards of 800 orders in a day.
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 them our shipping history, weights, zip codes, box sizes, etc. we negotiated some shipping rates. Doing this 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.
MASTER THE SHAKE TEST
This one is simple – pack your box, hold it in your hands and flip it over. If you hear anything 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. You’d swear some carriers body slam your packages on the way to the customer but who really knows what goes on behind closed door. Either way – put your items in as small of a box as possible without compromising the items- invest in some bubble wrap, packing peanuts, zip ties, and even strap the product down inside the box if you have to.
Check out Best Way to Box And Ship A Wreath for more packing tips.
INVEST IN A SHIPPING MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Our go-to is ShipStation, 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 allows us to batch print with ease.
ShipStation keeps our process streamlined and is 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. Its all there, calculated simultaneously, and lets us know in one screen.
Got any 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.