8 Tips to Improve Your Company’s Shipping Processes

The following is a guest post from Henry Howlett, Junior SEO Executive at Absolute Digital Media.


Who wants to receive a parcel three days after it was due to arrive?

Definitely not your customers.

They pay for the type of parcel delivery they require, whether it is Standard Delivery, the best cheap Next Day Delivery or even Same Day Delivery — they expect it to arrive on time, safe and sound.

In fact, more people than ever shop online, and prefer to receive their goods through the post than walking into a store and paying for it at a till. The need for reputable parcel delivery is only growing, and is unlikely to settle any time soon.

So, to ensure your customers remain satisfied with the delivery service your business provides, as well as save money and invaluable time, take into consideration these tips for enhancing your shipping processes:

Streamline your process with documentation

For the best delivery performance, we recommend simplifying your internal shipping processes. While it’s not uncommon to see companies using countless advanced systems and apps to complete one internal process, it only confuses the matter and turns a quick and simple task into one that is long and tiresome.

We suggest creating an informed list of what aspects of the current shipping process work well, what aspects elongate the shipping process, and the next steps required to overcome the issues you have identified to design a successful shipping solution.

Check out this guide to creating a process from scratch, and this post on process optimization.

Then, use Process Street to create a formal version of the process and deploy it to your organization.

Here’s an example:

Want more checklists like this? Click here to get 7 processes that will improve your supply chain.

Improve communication with your warehouse

Quick communication with your warehouse is essential to maintain fast delivery. In fact, it should only take a matter of minutes, if not seconds, for an order to be processed at your warehouse, or by your supplier.

Not only will this help manage stock and tell you to import more if needed, but it ensures the influx of orders doesn’t come out of nowhere and that the warehouse can arrange for additional members of staff to be on hand to ensure all your parcels are sent on it. During this busy time, you could speak to your warehouse manager over the telephone, instead of via email.

While the convenience of sending an email will never fade, physically speaking to someone prevents miscommunication and promotes a clearer understanding of what is being asked. Plus, sending fewer emails means that when you do send an email on the odd occasion, it is more likely to be opened and read instead of ignored as it will seem more important.

Alternatively, you can use asynchronous tools that index messages such as Slack and HipChat. The extra benefit of these tools is their ability to integrate with hundreds of other apps, including the other vital tools that run your operation.

Use the right technology locate your items quicker

To improve your businesses shipping processes, you must be able to identify the exact location of each item in your warehouse. If not, it may remind you of trying to find a needle in a haystack! The best way to locate your items and maximize efficiency and identify how much stock you have is to use scanning devices.

Barcode scanners and wireless scanners alike are great time savers and reduce the risk of human error, which also saves money. Plus, with the use of these devices, businesses can save hours of work every year to keep track of the items being sent from the warehouse, and returned.

Want a truly smart solution? Try something like Blik, a startup that won runner-up in TechCrunch Disrupt 2017:

Blik is a lightweight alternative to barcodes that provides greater visibility over your warehouse operations.

While some businesses remain anti-technology and there’s no doubt that physical work will always be an invaluable part of the shipping process, automating tasks that can be performed just as well by human-beings but minimize risk of error, enhances efficiency and saves time and money at the same time is an unquestionable improvement.

Choosing a courier service

To enhance your business shipping process further, we suggest creating a list of relevant courier services. However, this ‘list’ depends entirely on where and how fast you plan to deliver your goods. For those looking to deliver fast, a courier service that can’t guarantee quick delivery may not be the leading choice.

In order to create a useful list of courier services, make a spreadsheet of all the relevant services that are available to your business, including the price it will cost to send your parcel depending on destination and weight. This way, you can check your list and use the most efficient service suitable for your requirements.

It’s not just your requirements you need to consider when choosing a courier service, though. Whilst it may sound straightforward, there are several things you need to consider, including the type of delivery service, delivery speed and professional appearance of the courier service you choose (because a clean delivery van and smile can make all the difference!). Here is what else you need to consider when choosing a delivery service; there are several things you must consider including:

  • The delivery service type: This will depend on the size, number of parcels and how far they are required to be sent. Keep in mind that the further you need to ship an item, the more expensive it will be to do so.
  • Security: How secure is your chosen courier service? Request more information about your chosen couriers security policy, and if any parcels are left unattended throughout the parcel delivery process. If so, is the risk of your customer’s parcel going missing worth it?
  • Delivery speed: Many businesses rely on fast delivery, and you should too! Consider what quick delivery options your chosen courier offers before making a final decision.
  • Reliability: How reliable is your chosen courier service? Each time you vow a delivery, you put your company’s reputation on the line, so you want to ensure your chosen courier service is reliable to avoid letting your loyal customers down.
  • Professional appearance: While the security, delivery speed and reliability of your chosen courier service is important, their professional appearance is even more so. The appearance of your chosen courier service’s vans and drivers reflects just as much on your business, as it does theirs.
  • The ability to deliver special deliveries: Depending on the nature of your business, knowing if your chosen carrier is qualified to handle oversized packages is vital, because not all carriers are.
  • Cost: Despite what you see online, the advertised parcel delivery price is rarely the final price. You may be faced to pay hidden costs that you can’t back out of. To ensure the cost of delivery remains the same, request the final price before you continue.
  • The ease of doing business: How easy is it to order online? Ideally, you want to choose a courier service that makes your life considerably easier – not more complicated!
  • The overall customer experience: Last but not least, you must consider the overall customer experience. Your chosen courier company should be friendly and easy to work with. After all, you will be in contact on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Use Electronic Data Interchange

Electronic Data Interchange, otherwise known as EDI, is the perfect solution for those of us who are bound to leave important pieces of paperwork lying around. Essentially, EDI is a technique already used by several transporters around the world that replaces paperwork with more efficient electronic data.

Not only does the correct use of Electronic Data Interchange make the entire shipping process quicker, it’s much more convenient than carrying around countless pieces of loose paper, and saves a lot of money. Other advantages of using EDI within your business includes that it improves productivity while minimizing errors. This means that your business can undertake additional corporate operations, without the need for multiple human resources.

Make local and international shipping connections

It’s all about whom you know, not what you know. If you plan to or already ship to destinations outside of where your business is based, whether it be the UK, Europe or anywhere in the world, you should make connections in the countries your items will be sent to.

While it might not sound immediately useful, your new connections can tell you which services to use, and which to most definitely avoid. This way, you can be sure you are doing your utmost to ensure your parcel arrives safe and sound, but most importantly on time. In turn, this will promote good customer satisfaction, improving customer retention, as well as enhance your entire shipping process.

You never know, you might even obtain exclusive offers or discounts a few months down the line. It’s a win-win situation.

Prepare for customs clearance

One of the best ways to enhance your complex shipping process is to prepare for customs clearance in advance. If you aren’t already aware, customs clearance is a long, frustrating part of the delivery process that can’t be avoided for safety reasons. All parcels coming in from or being delivered outside the European Union must undergo rigorous custom checks to control the import (and export) of goods.

Further to this, if the value of the item is more of the minimum value for gifts and commercial items for the desired destination country, they must be inspected by that country’s Customs Authority, which prolongs the shipping process even more. In order to ensure your parcels arrive on time, safe and sound, we suggest declaring the goods online.

This way, you can be sure that your parcel will soar through customs clearance without any issues, or risk being held up with hundreds, if not thousands, of other parcels arriving at the same destination for parcel delivery.

Ensure your customers are informed at all times

Time is very much against us when we’re eagerly waiting for something to arrive. Hours pass that feel like days, and those days feel like weeks. But, keeping your customers up to date on the status of their awaited delivery can help time go much faster for them.

Instead of waiting for a knock at the front door, customers can go about their daily lives with a better idea of when their parcel may arrive, and keeping your customers informed about their delivery is even easier thanks to new advanced technology. Customers can now track their parcel directly from their mobile phone at any given time using their unique tracking reference code, or can sign up to receive parcel delivery status updates via SMS for more relevant parcel delivery information.

Enhancing your shipping processes is crucial for both the customer, and your business. From simplifying your internal processes and choosing a courier service suitable for your business, to introducing new Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technology and ensuring your customers remain informed throughout the delivery process via email or SMS, ensuring your businesses shipping processes are up to scratch is essential to ensure you can compete within the industry and reduce costs. Greater demand requires greater responsibility.

How will you enhance your shipping processes? Let me know in the comments.

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