Shipping like a pro this December

A checklist on ensuring shipping really delivers for your business in the busy season.

It’s not just high-volume e-commerce shippers who will be fulfilling an avalanche of gift orders in the next several weeks. Small businesses are also focused on key customer communications, end-of-year requests for samples and products, as well as increases in business gifts. And unlike other times of year, the clock is ticking before business colleagues, clients and prospective clients leave the office for the year. How can smaller offices ramp up their systems to deal with the increase in demand at this time of year even if their shipping volumes may not be astronomical?

How can you manage your shipping to make sure you give carriers, who are handling huge volumes, enough time to get your packages there, along with everyone else’s? During this time of year, delivery time frames actually become more critical than cost, which is usually the key issue. To know which carriers are most likely to meet your delivery needs you have to ship like a pro.

The lesson that all office shippers can learn from pro shippers whose high-volume businesses depend on order fulfillment constantly, is to adjust carrier criteria — such as delivery time, cost, tracking capabilities and customer needs. Small businesses should do the exact same thing, regardless of time of year.

Here are five other tips for happy shipping this Christmas:

  • Rate shop shipping services. No single carrier is the best alternative for all SME parcel shipments. Sometimes changes such as being willing to switch to a different carrier for extra value or trading off an early morning delivery vs. a late morning delivery can save a lot of money.
  • Keep it simple. Many carriers now charge based on both size and weight as well as speed. Smaller is better to reduce size and cost.
  • Make sure you verify the ship to address to avoid surcharges and speed delivery. Getting the address right using the carrier’s delivery information is key to avoiding address correction issues and ensuring that the package arrives on time.
  • Keep your clients in the loop with shipping and tracking details. Some shipping tools now can use your customer’s email address to provide package tracking information automatically. This will save you and them time and anxiety.
  • Get rid of outdated shipping processes and tools. Small businesses often rely on simple, yet ineffective tools. For example, many SMEs keep their key client addresses scattered across formats, including email address books, email contact lists, physical mailing lists and business cards. This can be a major handicap when it comes to managing customer addresses – instead, go digital. Organise your address books digitally on shared documents to give everyone in the office access.

It also pays to check into carrier shipping deadlines for mailing and shipping to domestic and international addresses. These can vary by region and level of service, but some are as early as the beginning of December! Check with carrier websites for all deadlines.

Finally, businesses usually talk about pricing, but at this point in the year timing is key—if you don’t handle business deliveries properly right now, that business might not be around next year.

For creating superior, meaningful communications and creating strategies, ensure mailing technologies and shipping solutions adhere to best global practices for efficiency, accuracy and precision.

Stephen Darracott, Country Manager and Director, Pitney Bowes Australia & New Zealand