If your small business ships products directly to customers, it's important to fine-tune your processes in order to avoid wasting time, human resources and, ultimately, your money. A good shipping process involves more than just the right packaging material. This means finding and using shipping tools that organize and track your mailed products.
Here are five helpful tools:
1. Customer Management System
Whether your business is tiny and you can track your details with a notebook, or you ship hundreds of packages a week, you need a system to record and track details of your customers and their orders. That information should include:
- Customer's name and billing address
- Shipping address
- Method of payment
- Details of items purchased
- Purchase order number
- Any sales tax charged and collected
Organizing this information makes it easier to complete billing, accounts receivable, customer service and bookkeeping for your business. Larger companies should look into software options to safely store all of this transaction information and financial data.
2. Alternate Delivery Options
While buying products online is popular, home delivery isn't always a customer's first choice. Selecting a program that offers alternate delivery locations makes shipping more convenient if you have multiple locations or will be working from home.
For example, UPS Shipping offers UPS Access Point, so your customers may choose their preferred shipping location from 22,000 points across Europe and North America. This also means recipients don't have to miss packages when they're at work during the day or while traveling. You can add individuals' preferences to current online checkout programs via a plug-in tool.
3. Automated Shipping Solutions
If someone on your team must cut and paste customer information from one software program to another, you're wasting time and money. Instead, add automated shipping to your arsenal shipping tools.
Automated shipping solutions, like Orderhive, import customer details from address books and generate shipping labels and bills of lading, which saves time and helps reduce the possibility of making input errors. Check your shipping program of choice to see if it offers automated shipping.
4. Shipment Tracking
"Where's my package?" This is a question that strikes fear into the heart of many a small business owner — but with a tracking tool, it shouldn't. A good program not only lets you see where all of your outgoing packages are at any given time, but also allows you to set up automatic tracking alerts for your customers to follow either by text message or email.
5. Accounting System Integration
To save time organizing and keeping track of packages as well as the other financial aspects of your business, choose a shipping system with electronic billing. This lets you minimize costs from incorrect addresses and track your costs versus your charges.
Shipping may be an integral part of your business. When you take the necessary steps to protect your packages, you can offer simple, reliable shipping to customers without wasting your time and money.