Let’s be brutally honest: shipping is a pretty boring topic. No entrepreneur wants to sit around discussing shipping strategies. You just want to make your sales, grow your business, and let the boring details sort themselves out. The problem is that shipping isn’t something you can just ignore and expect it to sort itself out. The fact is that if your business doesn’t have a sound shipping plan in place, its growth will be stunted. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the very fate of your business hinges largely on your shipping program.
With great growth comes a great shipping challenge
In the formative days of your business, you might not give a second thought to shipping. Right out of the gate, your business will probably only be getting a few orders, so you can handle fulfilling them as they come in. You pack up the order, get shipping quotes from local couriers, choose the best price, and go to your local shipping facility to send it out. Easy enough.
But what happens when your business starts to really take off? What happens when more orders come in than you can handle? And what happens when things like the rates, service features, and delivery times offered by your shipping company start to affect your bottom line?
Canadian shipping company Purolator documented a great case study on Jason Rose, the co-founder of AVShop.ca, an online audio and visual equipment retail business. In the company’s early days, Rose would quote packages from multiple couriers with each order that came in. However, as the business began to take off, Rose realized that “constantly using different couriers was causing a backlog in the warehouse” and that the company “needed to streamline [their] shipping.”
Rose eventually partnered with a single shipping company, allowing him to negotiate a predictable, competitive shipping rate. In turn, this allowed his business to ship out parcels more quickly, and it helped the company save money.
Choose your shipping partner wisely
When it comes to choosing a shipping company, most business owners will focus on one thing: cost. While cost is certainly an important consideration, it shouldn’t be the only factor influencing your decision.
There are so many other important things you need to consider when choosing a shipping company, such as:
- Service area
- Specific services offered
- Pickup & delivery times
- Additional service features offered (e.g. tracking)
Remember, the shipping company you choose will, in many ways, act as the face of your company. Your customers might not ever actually meet anyone from your business face-to-face, especially if you’re an online retailer. Their only physical impression of your business will come when their orders are delivered. If your shipping company offers slow, unreliable service, delivers damaged packages, or offers rude service to your customers, it will reflect poorly on your business and hurt your bottom line.
That’s why it’s so important that you choose a shipping provider that you can truly feel comfortable representing your business. As Rose explained when talking about his company’s shipping partner, “[they have] become the face of our business. Their staff are all really nice, and they ensure our goods end up in our customer’s hands quickly and in one piece. Our driver visits us twice a day, and we really feel like he’s become part of our team.”
Maybe Rose is onto something. Maybe instead of viewing shipping as another hassle that keeps you from focusing on building your business, you should view it as a vital area of your business that can help you achieve your biggest goals.
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