How to manage shipping from a home-based business
Managing shipping from a home-based business doesn’t need to be stressful or complicated.
With a simple best practice approach, you can create a system that has those orders flying out as fast as you can take them.
Laying the Groundwork for Your Shipping System
1. Inventory management
For many new home-based businesses, storing and managing stock at home is a common practice.
Whether you keep stock at home or in a storage facility, good inventory management is key to fulfilling orders and preventing shipping delays.
Keep a central record of your stock using Excel or Google sheets, which you can upload as a CSV file to your ecommerce platform.
There are also a range of apps available that can automate the updates between your central system and your ecommerce platform. For example, Sellbrite automatically adjusts and syncs inventory data to avoid overselling products that are no longer available.
2. Shipping restrictions
Are you aware of any restrictions for the goods you’re planning to ship?
It’s important to familiarise yourself with the rules governing what can be shipped in both your state and the countries you’re shipping to, if you’re selling products overseas.
Hazardous goods are a well known area for caution, but did you know that certain countries have specific restrictions on products entering their country? For example, the United States prohibits the import of any item that includes dog or cat fur.
Once you’ve confirmed that your goods can be shipped to the destinations you’ve specified, it’s time to determine the best packaging options.
Choosing the Best Packaging for Your Products
Planning how you’ll package your goods goes a long way to ensuring the best shipping rates – it also helps ensure the safe delivery of your items.
1. Weigh and measure
When calculating shipping costs, you’ll need to consider both the item’s weight (fully packaged) and the cubic dimensions.
Use bathroom or kitchen scales on a flat surface to get an indicator of the packaging weight. You’ll also need a tape measure on hand to gauge package dimensions.
2. Test a few different packaging material options
Before committing to purchase packaging, test out different options for weight, product safety and packaging robustness.
What is a safe way to package your goods? Does it need to be crushproof, or simply padded? What dimensions will allow for the safest packaging?
For some smaller, fragile items, it may be tempting to compromise on packaging to generate a smaller cubic weight, but this could cause breakage leading to further costs and bad customer experience.
3. Test the shipping costs of different packaging
Compare courier quotes for your parcels so you can determine the best packaging options for specific products or ranges ahead of time.
Setting Your Shipping Rates and Policies
1. Free Shipping – Yes, no or maybe?
As a small business, shipping costs can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
Customers may have grown to expect free shipping, but is this right for you?
Having a clear understanding of whether you can afford to offer free shipping, and at what cart value that offer kicks in, is critical to staying in the black.
The average shipping cost needs to include the time and materials for each order as well as the transportation.
Once you’ve determined the indicative shipping cost for each item, take a look at the most common shipping destinations where your customers are located.
Use this figure to determine if, or how, you might offer free shipping. For example, providing free shipping on orders above a minimum purchase amount, or orders placed by a certain date or time.
2. Let your customers decide
Another great alternative is to offer your customers their choice of carrier, at the shipping price point of their choice.
You can do this by integrating the Transdirect eCommerce widget on your checkout page. The widget will prefill with the package details and your customer can then select the courier quote that suits them best.
3. Shipping policies
Almost as important as shipping costs, are your shipping policies. Make sure to have these clearly stated and easy to find on your website.
The most critical points to include are:
- A clear statement of expected delivery times
- How packages are tracked and the tracking number
- Insurance policies — what is covered and up to what value?
- Delivery confirmation — will the item require a signature or ID on delivery?
- Additional taxes, duties and documentation as applicable
- Returns — How many days, what to expect and is return shipping covered
Setting Up Your Shipping Workflow
1. Carve out a packaging workspace area
Create a dedicated space for packaging your orders where your tools and equipment are always on hand.
It doesn’t need to be a large space, but it’s important to keep it organised, safe and dry to avoid any delays or damage to your materials.
- Your packaging material – boxes, bubble mailers, satchels, wrapping paper etc..
- Any cushioning such as packing peanuts or bubble wrap
- Packing tape
- Your label printer
- Calibrated scales
- Business cards / thank you cards
- General office supplies including pens, scissors
2. Parcel pickup scheduling
Time is money and saving yourself the hassle of multiple pick up times is key to keeping your shipping running smoothly.
Your pickup schedule will be determined by the volume and frequency of the orders you’re shipping.
If you’re just starting out and don’t yet know what your order volume looks like, you may want to pick two or three key days each week as your shipping days.
Transdirect’s multipickup option is a great way to save even more on shipping rates. Instead of booking each pickup one by one, this option allows you to get even better rates once your parcel volume reaches a pre-set number, from as low as three items.
3. Parcel courier pickup place
Often overlooked, the pickup location makes your parcel collection run more smoothly.
Organise an area outside your house that is clean, dry and clearly marked as the pick up point.
This could be as simple as placing a clearly marked crate on your front doorstep allowing your couriers to quickly identify the items.
Also, make sure you secure any pets to prevent an unexpected escape!
Let Us Help You Grow your Home-Based Business
With a home-based business, having access to the best shipping rates available makes a big difference to your bottom line.
Transdirect makes it easy for small businesses to get the lowest rates on the big-name couriers.
No lock-in contracts, no monthly fees, no subscriptions.