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Today more than ever, customers expect businesses to deliver their products directly to their door. And thanks to high-volume, rapid response online companies like Amazon, people want their packages sooner than ever.
If your retail or wholesale business doesn’t currently do a lot of direct shipping to customers, that’s likely to change in the coming years. A recent study showed that about 79 percent of all consumers in the US routinely buy products online. So if you want to keep up with the competition, you will need to acknowledge this transformative trend.
Mailing online purchases to customers is different than sending pallets or even cases of products to retailers. For one thing, the packages are smaller. For another, there are more of them.
The object today is to get deliveries to customers’ doorsteps as quickly as possible, with minimal damage, and with the fewest shipping errors possible.
Also, it’s critical to reduce shipping costs as much as possible. Thanks to Amazon, many customers now want free shipping. If you offer it, every penny you pay for shipping comes out of your profit margin.
Materials Handling Solutions for E-Commerce
A shipping program needs to check all these boxes. To achieve this, today’s businesses need to follow a four-point plan for shipping success.
- Plan Your Shipment — Whether you are mailing hundreds of packages or only one, it pays to have a plan in place. Pack the same product or similar products at the same time to reduce labor costs and reduce prep time. Organize your shipments from the most- to least-complicated to streamline the packaging process.
- Prepare for Packing — Make sure you always have everything you need on hand to package the products you intend to ship. If you are missing essential pieces like cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, shipping tape, or labels, every minute you waste collecting these items extends the delivery time past your shipping window estimate.
- Package Products — To reduce damage during shipping, make sure you use in-box cushioning, blocking, banding, stretch wrap, pallets, and other tools and equipment to secure your packages.
- Ship Your Products — The delivery service you use matters. Options include the US Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, and other delivery services. Choose the one that gets your products where they are going fastest and at the least cost to you.
Shipping products has become a significant part of any retail or wholesale operation. And it’s only going to become more important as time goes on. Preparing today for expanded shipping operations tomorrow will only help your business grow faster and more profitably.