E-commerce or manufacturing companies are familiar with the various stages of shipping—sending out products from the manufacturing unit or warehouse to customers. But shipping isn’t as straightforward as loading your goods and shipping them off to market.
Good shipping practices have the power to make or break your business. So what should you focus on? Consider the following eight practices to improve your shipping process:
1. Shipping Costs
This may sound obvious, but make sure to do research about shipping costs before you actually start shipping. Figure out how you are going to ship your goods, the docks where you want to ship them to, and how much it will cost you to do the same based on the frequency of shipping as well as the docks covered. If you ship your products frequently, check with your shipping service if you are eligible for lower shipping rates or any discounts. For international shipping, you may consider using popular shipping services in your country of choice. Make use of free online tools and calculators offered by shipping companies to calculate a rough estimate of your shipping costs.
2. Damage Control
It is an obvious measure to mark delicate cargo with a ‘fragile’ sign, but the ugly truth is that your fragile cargo won’t be handled with care throughout the different shipping stages. Subject your packaging to the four-foot drop test, which is the industry standard for determining if a package can withstand ordinary shipping and handling impact. In this test, you have to drop the package from a height of four feet onto a hard surface from five different angles. Carry out the full-minute vigorous shaking test too as a precaution.
Wrap your cargo in a silica gel packet if it’s moisture sensitive. This will help absorb the moisture and control humidity. Cover your cargo with suitable materials to block harmful rays if they are prone to color fading is also advisable. Also use appropriate fillers to minimize damage.
3. Use E-Signatures
All shipping cargo will pass through several regulation and industry bodies. A regular update on the state of materials, product details, and shipping information will be given to you. Documentation is a crucial stage in shipping and using e-signatures will make the documentation process faster and more efficient.
4. Use the Right Packaging
Packaging is an essential factor in shipping. Make sure that you use a packaging box that is a perfect fit for your cargo—as anything too big is a waste of money. Follow the packaging guidelines and only use the right packaging products. Use foam, kraft paper, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and inflated air-bags as fillers instead of confetti paper to minimize the chances of damage. Wrap the final packaging bag in plastic to prevent the seeping in of moisture or water. Use thermal insulation, if required. Try using green packaging options to promote eco-friendly packaging decisions.
5. Weigh the Goods Accurately
It is advised to weigh all packages before shipping them. It is ideal to weigh the cargo-laden trucks with truck scales before sending them out on the road. Ideally, each package should not weigh over 50 pounds for safety reasons. If they do happen to weigh over 50 pounds, the packages should be clearly marked and labeled. If the goods are packed in pallets, the gross weight of the product and pallet combined shouldn’t exceed 1,500 pounds. Secure the contents of all the packages with stretch wrap or twine.
6. Adhere to Transportation Regulations
You can ship via road, air, or water. It is crucial to remember that transportation regulations for all three are different. The licensing as well as the approved routings and weights will vary from state to state. International borders have their own different sets of regulations. Ensuring that your shipments are compliant with the regulations and legislative limitations is best.
Carry the required permits if you are shipping by road, weigh the trucks using truck scales, and look up rules if the trucks are carrying oversized loads beyond the given legal norm. The same applies for airfreight and sea shipments. Carry all the necessary documents including invoices, import/export permits, documents pertaining to ocean, and air freight such as Ocean Bill of Lading and the Ocean Waybill and Air Waybill, respectively. Do not exceed the specified weight and inform the concerned officials if you are shipping any hazardous or dangerous cargo.
7. Consider Shipping Insurance
No matter how careful you are, there is a possibility of your package getting lost or extensively damaged in shipping due to conditions beyond your control. Shipping insurance will protect you in such scenarios and also ensure that you don’t have to spend your own money again to cover the loss. It’s up to you whether you want to insure each and every package you send or just insure the packages containing expensive products. You can split or pass the insurance cost to your customers, but you need to share the required details with them beforehand.
8. Consider the Risks of International Shipping
International shipping allows you to give your business a bigger platform and provide services to people all over the world. This, however, will present different challenges from that of domestic shipping. It will cost more capital and there will be a higher risk of fraud. The uncertainty factor will also go up. Consider all the potential problems of opening your business up to the world.
Avoiding making shipping mistakes that will get you into tricky situations. Good shipping might go unnoticed, but remember that the customers will immediately notice if a shipment goes wrong, which will be detrimental to your business. Follow good shipping practices and business growth will follow.
About the Author
Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California. He enjoys everything mechanical and electronic, computers, the internet and spending time with family.