Managing a small business is no easy feat. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a huge boom in people setting up their own businesses. Maybe you want to join that train and start selling your own products. But, there’s so much to think about. So much to do!
One of the biggest challenges with small businesses – especially those that sell products online – is shipping and fulfillment. At first, it may be very easy to pack and post a few products yourself, but what if your business grows? Read on for this helpful guide on managing small business shipping, fulfillment, and returns.
Weighing and Packing Yourself
As mentioned, if your business is really small, the easiest and most cost-effective method could be to ship products yourself. If that suits you, there are a few things to think about. Firstly, you’ll need packing materials and a printer for labels. Make this as easy as possible with sticky back printer paper or a proper label printer, plus boxes or suitable packaging for your products.
You’ll also need to know the weight of each product before it is posted. Differing weights and sizes can massively affect the price of postage. Over at American Weigh Scales, they explain how the right scales can be great for “calculating postage on envelopes and determining shipping rates on packages.” This is a super handy thing to have, as you can accurately calculate postage costs in advance, making it easier to charge your customer the right amount for postage and materials.
Once you have your packing materials and scales, you’ll want to look into the different postal options available to you. With a range of courier services and drop-off postage centers available, it can be tough to choose what works best for you.
Firstly, consider the cost. Obviously, you can pass a lot of your shipping costs onto the customer. But, you don’t want that to be too expensive, as it may deter potential customers. Look for a fairly-priced shipping service.
Then, you want to consider any insurance or protection that this courier offers. If you are selling high-value products, you’ll need to ensure your packages. Sadly, mistakes do happen, leading to damaged or missing parcels. If your parcels are not insured, you may lose out on products and money when you need to replace them.
Finally, you need to think about what is easiest and most efficient. Often, having a courier come to collect your parcels costs slightly more than dropping them off yourself. However, if you have lots of parcels on the way out every single day, you may find it a lot easier to have that collection option.
Using a Fulfillment Center
Another option for a scaling business is using a fulfillment center. In this scenario, you would not hold any of your own stock. Instead, you will deliver all of your stock to a fulfillment center. These centers hold your products and manage the shipping on your behalf. This way, you never have to visit the postal service ever again! There are costs involved with using a fulfillment center; you’ll pay for the warehouse space and shipping costs. In return, you get peace of mind that your products are being looked after and shipped professionally.
What about the selling part of all this? Well, one of the easiest ways to make sales online is to work with an eCommerce provider. These companies combine almost every aspect of selling online into one easy-to-use tool. You’ll get a web store, alongside analytics tools, marketing tools, and even shipping tools. These platforms are truly an excellent choice for small businesses shipping a lot of products and looking to grow whilst building an understanding of their customer base. You’ll pay a subscription fee, but your job will get a whole lot easier.
Dealing With Returns
Finally – the issue of returns. If you’re using an eCommerce provider, this will all be tied in. They will help you when dealing with customers, organizing refunds, and sorting return shipping. One thing to make sure you have in place is a clear returns policy. You need to make sure your customers understand your returns policy, reasons for return, and returns process. This helps to avoid any unwanted debates with customers, whilst keeping your customer satisfaction levels high.
With these methods, tools, and ideas in place, you’ll find shipping your products, weighing them, managing stock, and keeping customers happy a breeze. Whether you’re shipping a few products a week, a few hundred, or a few thousand, you’ll make your life a lot easier by following this handy guide.