Forward logistics have come a very long way in the Philippines in the last ten years, having been catalyzed by the sudden boom of online shopping platforms and online businesses. Before, packages could take almost a week to get from Point A to Point B, and Cash on Delivery was nothing but a concept. Today, one to two days shipping is the standard for most delivery couriers, returning orders to sellers is a thing, and payment options are a hundred times more convenient than before.
Having said all that, it’s easier now to be an online seller than it was five or ten years ago. However, there are still many challenges that both sellers and buyers face when dealing with shipping. To make the shipment process as easy as possible for both parties, here are some valuable shipping tips that sellers can apply in their day-to-day operations.
1. Consider more than one courier
For many online sellers, availability and accessibility are the two driving factors when it comes to choosing a delivery courier. The nearest and most affordable courier is usually the first choice. However, there may be stark differences between couriers that are readily available to you, especially with regard to shipping times, fees, handling of packages, and other services. For example, one courier may be better than the other at handling overnight deliveries, or perhaps one courier offers reliable money remittance services (apart from deliveries) and the other does not.
That said, it’s a good idea to choose more than one courier to work with. Apart from having the opportunity to choose a courier based on your needs, you can also offer your customers the chance to choose the courier who will deliver their order. Most people prefer one courier more than the other based on past experiences, so having more than one courier can also help increase overall customer satisfaction.
2. Learn proper packaging techniques
One of the most important things that new business owners should learn is the proper way to package orders. There are too many customers online customers who are receiving their orders damaged or defective because of poor packaging; don’t let your customers have the same experience, both for their sake and for your brand reputation as well.
Here are basic packaging principles you must know:
- Use fillers to fill out empty spaces in the box and provide padding to the item (newspaper, shredded paper, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, recycled plastic bags)
- Don’t overfill the box or shipping pouch; if it’s a tight fit, use a bigger vessel to avoid untoward damage to the item
- Secure the package with heavy-duty tape to protect it from tampering and moisture
- Ensure non-solid items are sealed (lotion, body wash, beverages, etc.) in watertight containers
- When reusing containers for shipping, inspect them for holes, wet spots, cracks, and other signs of damage
3. Understand shipping costs
Consider this scenario: you look up the shipping cost for a 1kg box on a courier’s website. You charge exactly the same amount to your customer. When you get to the courier, you find out that the delivery fee is going to include volumetric measurements, and what you charged to your customer is lower. You then have to pay the difference from your own pocket (unless you want to ask your customer to pay again).
This is just one of the many reasons why understanding shipping costs is extremely important. There is more to it than the raw prices that couriers provide on their websites. You also have to consider the size of the package, the dimensions, and the maximum weight you are allowed to ship for each box–and all of these can be determined by consulting with the courier first.
4. Consider a pick-up service
Some couriers offer to pick-up your packages from your address so that you don’t have to go to the branch to ship them. This type of set-up is common for business owners that use online shopping platforms like Shoppe and Lazada. But for independent online businesses, owners have to sign up for their service with a specific courier.
A pick-up service is incredibly convenient and can significantly reduce your transportation costs. If you are receiving a regular number of orders every day or week, have the budget to spare, and can package items properly yourself, consider signing up for a parcel pick-up service with your courier.
Employing these strategies will help you get your products to your customers in the safest, most convenient, and most efficient ways possible. Apart from helping you cut overhead costs, being smart with shipping is also imperative to uphold your brand image, especially if your business is just starting out.