6 Shipping Tips for Emerging E-Commerce Retailers
For the typical e-commerce startup that's selling a physical product, shipping is often an afterthought. Compared to splashy marketing campaigns and new product features, shipping isn't exactly the sexiest topic. However, efficient shipping operations directly affect revenue and future growth, and companies that don't adhere to best practices run the risk of having increasing sales without raking in enough profits. Consider implementing these six tips:
1. You can't beat free. Most carriers provide free shipping supplies to encourage usage of their services. Visit the USPS for free Priority Mail envelopes and both UPS and FedEx for free shipping materials and labels. Even when purchased in bulk, shipping materials are a substantial capital expense, so don't neglect free sources.
2. Batch orders together. As an online retailer, you've obviously embraced the benefits of technology and automation. Make sure your shipping practices follow suit. Printing labels one at a time as orders come in isn't an efficient use of time. Software solutions are available that can print identifying information on batches of labels; they can even print the label and packing slip at the same time for optimal inventory matching.
3. Take advantage of the benefits thermal printers offer. Another area where technology can bring greater efficiency is with the actual label printer. Instead of a laser or inkjet, consider an efficient and reliable thermal printer that produces clear labels at high speeds. Carriers such as UPS will even rent thermal printers (e.g., Zebra ZP 450) for as low as $2 per week, making it a simple return on investment.
4. Look at more than one carrier. Different carriers are very useful as your business and product lines expand. Selling mainly low to mid-value smaller products? The USPS is a great option that features order tracking and lower costs. Bigger packages and shipments to international destinations or businesses are often best suited to one of the other major carriers like UPS or FedEx. Software solutions are now available that allow you to easily compare rates from different carriers based upon multiple inputs.
Robert Gilbreath is the general manager of Auctane’s ShipStation, the trusted leader in shipping software that helps online sellers scale their businesses and deliver exceptional customer experiences. Gilbreath has been part of the team for nearly a decade but spent a larger portion of his professional life in online retail as part of what was once the new world of ecommerce. Like ShipStation, he’s based in Austin, Texas. When not getting ship done, he enjoys time outdoors with his wife and three children.