How to Find and Manage Shipping for Small Business
Congrats—you made your first sale! But now what? Follow our guide for tips on managing your shipments.
Few things are as exciting as seeing your first few orders through your small business. After all, you’ve put in time and energy perfecting and marketing your product; it feels good to see your customers taking an interest!
That said, the hard work isn’t over just yet. With orders rolling in, you need to know how to quickly and efficiently deliver your products to your customers without spending an arm and a leg in the process.
To help you grasp small business shipping, we’ve outlined a handy guide on finding the appropriate shipping services and managing your orders.
How to Find and Manage Shipping for Small Businesses
When it comes to small business shipping, there’s no one-size-fits-all option. For instance, a small business that sells hefty kitchen appliances like stoves and refrigerators to mostly international customers will require a much different shipping strategy than a small business that sells t-shirts to customers all within the same state.
From shipment sizes to delivery destinations, a lot goes into selecting the best carrier for your small business needs.
What to Consider When Choosing a Carrier
Before exploring some of the available shipping services for small businesses, we recommend evaluating your orders to get a better feel for what you’ll need to look for in a carrier. For example:
- What does your order volume look like? Are you sending out one or two products a week or more like 10 to 20 per day? If you keep track of your inventory and order volume will help you calculate your small business shipping costs and needs. You can also write off business expenses if you need additional shipment materials to fulfill your orders.
- What kind of delivery times do your customers expect? Everyone likes free shipping, but it’s not always the fastest solution. Are your customers willing to pay more to get their orders quicker?
- How much do your shipments weigh? Typically, the larger and heavier the item, the more it’ll cost to ship.
- What kind of packaging do your orders require? Consider what packaging your orders require, such as the dimension of the boxes and extra padding like bubble wrap and packing peanuts.
- How far are your shipments traveling? Whether the majority of your shipments are headed just across town or somewhere shipping internationally, this will impact everything from shipping costs to delivery times.
- Do you want package tracking? Tracking is a great way to keep your customers in the loop on their delivery status.
- What about insurance? While most carriers offer insurance options, they can get pricey, so some small businesses turn to more affordable third-party insurance options.
Best Shipping for Small Businesses
With a better understanding of your shipment needs, check out some of the best shipping services for small businesses below:
United States Postal Service (USPS)
USPS is a tried-and-true option that offers some of the cheapest shipping for small businesses. Compared to other shipping companies, like UPS and FedEx, USPS provides the lowest rates based on dimensional weight (DIM). However, it also offers affordable flat-rate options. Another perk is that it features APIs that let you place shipping tools on your business website.
Most small businesses like to take advantage of the carrier’s Priority Mail option, which comes with:
- Domestic deliveries between one and three days
- Free boxes and envelopes
- Flat rate boxes that accommodate up to 70 lbs
- Free package tracking
- Insurance coverage up to $100
United Parcel Service (UPS)
UPS is another viable option when it comes to shipping for small businesses. One major incentive for using UPS is its ability to deal with larger, heavier packages. For instance, USPS’ Priority Mail option taps out at packages weighing 70 lbs, while UPS can cover more than twice that weight (up to 150 lbs). Moreover, many shipping tools UPS offers are geared explicitly toward accommodating small businesses.
UPS Ground is a great option for small businesses. With it, you receive:
- Domestic deliveries between one and five days
- The option to ship packages that weigh up to 150 lbs
- Signature confirmation
- Free package tracking
- Actual delivery dates via the UPS Ground Map tool
- $100 worth of liability for lost or damaged shipments
FedEx is another household name that comes out on top when it comes to small business shipping. Like the other carriers on this list, it offers quick delivery times at an affordable rate. Perhaps the biggest perk of using FedEx is that it provides deliveries every day of the week, including Sundays. Compared to a carrier like USPS, it costs slightly more to ship small packages, but those packages will likely arrive sooner.
Many small businesses use the FedEx Ground option for shipping to commercial addresses or FedEx Home Delivery for residential addresses. Both:
- Deliver packages within one to three days to states within the continental U.S.
- Deliver packages within three to fives days to Hawaii and Alaska
- Ship packages weighing up to 150 lbs
- Provide the first $100 of insurance for free
How to Manage Small Business Shipping
There’s more to small business shipping than just selecting a carrier. Check out some of our top tips on how to manage your shipments:
Understand What Influences Shipping Costs
The more you familiarize yourself with what contributes to shipping costs, the savvier you can be about how you manage your shipments. In fact, you may even find that using multiple carriers for different shipments is more cost-effective than sticking with just one provider. For instance, sending your heavier, larger items via UPS and your smaller, more compact parcels with USPS makes more sense. In addition, look into each carrier’s shipping zones, weight and dimensions restrictions, insurance options, and delivery speeds—all of which can impact the price you pay for shipping.
See if You can Swing Free Shipping
Free shipping is important to your customers. It is a major decision-driving factor: A recent survey found that 66% of customers expect free shipping when online shopping. Another study found that 84% of customers purchased because the shipping was free.
So, what does this mean when it comes to managing your shipments? It means it’s a good idea to work the numbers to see if you can afford to offer free shipping. Once you know your average shipping costs better, determine if you can adjust your base product prices to include those shipping costs. Sure, that’ll mean increasing the cost of your products, but it may encourage your customers to make more purchases if they’re not put off by additional shipping rates.
Don’t Overlook Returns
Even if you think you provide the best products on the planet, the reality is that around 20% of all products purchased online are returned. With numbers like that, it’s important to implement a return policy. This includes information such as the cost to return items, where to access return shipping labels, and instructions on sending the product back.
Again, you may mix and match your carriers to best accommodate your needs. For example, you might send outbound packages with FedEx but rely on UPS for handling returns.
of customers expect free shipping when online shopping
of customers purchased because the shipping was free
Incorporate SMS Messages into Your Shipping Process
Don’t keep your customers in the dark regarding their shipments. Instead, improve their customer service experience by sending SMS messages with updates on their shipment status. For instance, send them notifications when their shipment has left your facility and update them with real-time delivery times and dates.
The faster you can notify your customers of order updates and the more seamless and transparent the experience, the more likely they’ll want to do business with you again.
Contact EZ Texting Today
Whether your business uses in-store transactions, curbside pickup, or carrier shipping, EZ Texting is a marketing solution that can help you increase customer engagement and get more eyes on your content. Here are more essential small business tools, or if you’re ready to learn more about how an SMS strategy can boost your business, contact us today!
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