A Guest Post, of interest to my readers who run an online store or small business –
During the process of running a small business, there are many different factors that must be taken in consideration when reviewing the way you do business. When you’re selling online, one of the factors that must be evaluated is the type of shipping that you offer. Many small businesses try to offer as many different shipping options as possible. While choices are sometimes good, when it comes to offering shipping options for your small business customers, more is not always better.
Here are a few reasons why you must re-consider the number of options that you provide to your customers for shipping.
Offering Multiple Carriers
In the shipping industry today, there are a plethora of options for you to consider when it comes to choosing a carrier to work with. Many small businesses offer their customers the option of shipping with the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, DHL, or a specialty carrier. Ultimately, you’re just trying to get a product from your place of business to the customer. Do you really need all of these options available for your customer? In most cases, you would be better served to choose one or possibly two carriers and offer those choices to your customer.
Why Narrow the Options?
Why should you go through the trouble to narrow your shipping options? When you have so many different options for shipping, you have to know all of their shipping policies and procedures. You may have to deal with multiple appointments from delivery drivers every day. You have to get the packages for UPS ready by one time, the packages for DHL ready by a different time, and so on. This adds extra work for you and your employees, and it adds to the confusion.
Whom to Choose
There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer as to which company you should choose to handle your shipping needs for your small business. Look for a company that is most dynamic when it comes to working with businesses and offering the services that you need. Look at what you really need and then try to determine which company is best for that. For instance, you may need access to real-time tracking on the Internet, or overnight shipping, one carrier might be able to handle these areas better than another.
Depending on where you need to ship your products, you may also need to choose one company over another. For instance, if you do a lot of international shipping, then you would want to work with a company that has a good reputation of being able to deliver around the world- even more so in the specific countries you work with a lot. If you are shipping products within the United States, then another company that has a great delivery network across states might be better suited to help you.
One of the most important factors that you need to take into consideration is the rates that these companies charge. Ultimately, you want to make sure that your shipping rates are competitive and affordable for your customers. In some cases, if you are competing against other online businesses that sell the same products, customers will choose the one with the cheapest shipping. This means that you need to figure out who offers the best prices on shipping and then come up with a relative pricing structure for your own shipping rates. If you mark up the shipping and end up charging too much, it could turn a lot of your customers away.
It’s not always easy to create a flat rate shipping policy for your customers, but you may be able to integrate a shipping calculator into your website. Some shipping providers offer access to a free shipping calculator for your website. This is another factor to look at when you are choosing which company to go with for your shipping needs.
When you are reviewing your shipping procedures, it is a good idea to shop around a bit. Talk to an account representative for each of the major shipping companies that you are considering using. When you get an account representative, you will be able to get a feel for what type of customer service you should expect. You’ll also be able to get price quotes based on how much you’re going to be shipping. In some cases, your representative will be able to give you a price break.
Overall, shipping is a pretty big part of your small business. Take the time to review it and find the best options to offer your small business customers.