Your business is charged with handling a variety of complex tasks. Management, production and marketing are enough to fill your plate without introducing shipping to the mix. Fortunately, your critical operations need not suffer because of your logistical responsibilities. By simplifying your shipping process through a little planning and communication, your profit margin and employees will reap the benefits.
Evaluate Your Basic Shipping Needs
Assessing your shipping process begins with understanding your shipping requirements. It’s easy to assume that every order your company receives deserves its own specific shipping configuration. However, what you’ll find by assessing your inventory and purchasing trends is that a great deal of your outbound shipments fall into generalized weight and volume categories.
Instead of designing shipping arrangements around specific product offerings, you can simplify your logistics to handle broad categories of goods. Doing so removes the need for messy caveats and accommodations based on negligible differences in size and volume, and allows your staff to focus more on fulfillment and efficiency.
Communicate with Your Carrier
Once you’ve broken your shipping needs down into broad categories, the next step is to coordinate with your carrier to optimize your new arrangements.
Coordinating logistics can be a challenge both for you and your carrier. For that reason, businesses that work with carriers to organize routine shipping arrangements can receive discounts. The concept is simple: customers who account for a reduced logistical burden are a welcome addition to a carrier’s portfolio, and are therefore presented with incentives to continue their business.
These incentives not only come in the form of discounted rates, but discounted bulk packaging as well. Your simplified shipping requirements provide the luxury of less specialized shipping materials, which means that one size box now fits a much greater percentage of your orders. For smaller items, simply leverage the same bulk shipping deals to better pad your products, and your balance sheet will see the difference.
Simplify Your Shipment Options
It’s tempting to offer an expansive variety of shipping speeds and arrangements to your customers simply because that’s what larger companies are doing. But what most business owners may not realize is that each additional shipping option represents an exponential increase in shipping costs.
Once again, we see the relationship between carrier and business manifest. Carriers forced to bend over backwards to accommodate a broad range of shipping options will charge a premium for their troubles. By limiting your shipping speeds and means (air versus ground), your carrier will be able to more easily arrange logistics and pass the savings on to you.
This may seem like a liability to customer satisfaction, but the exact opposite is true. By instead focusing on consistent order fulfillment, and using reduced shipping costs to subsidize shipping labels for returns, your customers will experience the benefits of your conscientious choice and reward you with further patronage.
Consolidate Your Supply Chain
For smaller companies, this may not be a possibility. But for larger businesses in charge of managing their distribution network, scaling down your supply chain to better suit your specific customer base will help simplify shipping as a whole.
Logistics thrive on a streamlined channel of distribution. Each node in the chain, located an inordinate distance from well-traversed channels, becomes a source of inefficiency that can slow down fulfillment and increase costs. It’s simple: if the lion’s share of your orders comes from the northeastern United States, but each shipment requires a detour to the Midwest for specific items, then carriers must either charge you for the additional travel time, or dispatch additional personnel and equipment to satisfy the request.
Identify your shipping needs and build your supply chain around them. If you currently have two warehouses on opposite coasts, stock each one with enough products to satisfy requests near either location without additional hassle. If you find that your operations are suffering from too many facilities or are under- or over-stocked, then consider consolidating your warehouses to reduce overhead.
It’s a challenge that many face: turning a complicated network of needs and means into a coherent and efficiently run picture. Fortunately, understanding what it can give opens room in your operations to reduce cost and complication. Simplify your shipping needs by identifying broad categories of shipments. Talk to your carrier and negotiate routine arrangements that will translate into savings. Simplify the shipping options you offer, and your balance sheet and customers will benefit. Finally, by paring down your supply chain to run more effectively and efficiently, your business will enjoy the many benefits of a reduced shipping burden.
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