You have a need for shipping regardless of the nature of your online store. As long as you sell a physical product, it must be shipped. Streamlining the shipping process for your online store can help save time and money. This can be reinvested into the core of your business, helping you grow instead of wasting time with shipping and handling. Fortunately, there are tried-and-true methods to streamline your online store shipping process.
Invest in an Online Shipping Service
Shipping and handling is a crucial aspect of every online store. Customers expect to receive their products as quickly as possible and in excellent condition. Justine Smith, writer for the small business resource publication Outright, states that shipping and handling is one of the biggest time sinks that small businesses experience. Smith suggests that small businesses invest a small amount of money in software and programs that naturally help streamline their shipping process.
DYMO Endicia is an [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]online shipping[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]online shipping[/tp] service that allows business owners to print shipping labels and postage directly from their computers. This takes a sizeable portion of time out of what is required to ship a product. Many small businesses have reported a 90 percent reduction in shipping preparation time after using online shipping services, in general.
Stock Up On Shipping Materials
Aron Hsia, a longtime successful eBay store operator, states that being adequately stocked up on shipping supplies can tremendously streamline the shipping process. Dedicate a room, or section of your office, as the shipping and handling area. Have a flat surface for packaging and allow plenty of room for storage of required materials. Hsia suggests the below items as a general list of what materials to stock up on:
- Tape and Packaging Materials – Unless everything you sell can be shipped in envelopes, you will require a large amount of tape and packaging materials. Tape can be purchased at any office supply store. Packaging materials, such as packing peanuts, can be special ordered or located at office supply stores and post offices.
- Boxes and Envelopes – Stay well stocked in a variety of sizes of boxes and envelopes for the various products that your business ships. The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers free flat-rate boxes. They will even deliver them to you. You can also purchase boxes and envelopes from a bulk supplier.
- Label/Stamp Printer and Supplies – Online shipping programs that allow you to print stamps and labels require a specialized type of printer. Ensure that you purchase the correct printer that is compatible with your program of choice. Also purchase plenty of paper for labels and rolls for stamps. It is also advised to have a stock of ink on hand to avoid any hold-ups that may be caused by an ink shortage.
- Scale – A scale may not be a required aspect of your shipping operation depending on your exact software configuration. However, to ensure you do not under or over pay for shipping, a simple shipping scale is a worthwhile purchase.
Have a Written Shipping Process
It’s time to create a shipping process now that you are properly stocked with supplies. Much of your shipping process may be automated depending on your software configuration. According to Hsia, It is advantageous to have a written shipping process, regardless of your configuration and/or number of employees. You will benefit from a written process even if you are a one-person operation. Below is a simplified shipping process, beginning immediately after a customer makes a purchase:
- Invoice – This will not be required for many online stores. However, send an invoice immediately if you offer the option for customers to be invoiced for their purchases.
- Print Postage and Label – Immediately print the postage and shipping label once the product has been paid for. Package the product so that it will be safely shipped and apply the shipping label.
- Schedule a Pick-Up or Drop-Off – Schedule a pick-up date if you are using a shipping provider with that option. Otherwise, take it to a postal dropbox at your earliest convenience. There is no need to visit a post office, since the item already has proper postage.
Save Time and Money
Streamlining the shipping process of your online store is crucial for long-term success. The ability of an online store to promptly deliver products cannot be overstated. Invest in creating a streamlined shipping process to ensure lasting prosperity.
Guest article written by: Gavin O’Neil is a contributing writer and owner/operator of a custom woodworking store in New England.