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How Small Businesses Can Automate Their Shipping

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If you’re looking to scale your eCommerce business, logistics automation should be one of your top priorities.

The centuries-old logistics industry has been deeply affected by the rise of ecommerce – but in a good way! Thanks to technology, there are many tools available to help sellers of all sizes scale their logistics operations.

It’s important for small businesses to automate their shipping for the following reasons:

  • It allows them to stop wasting time on repetitive tasks
  • It reduces human errors on shipping labels, avoiding delayed or failed deliveries
  • It lets them scale effectively, with increases in conversion and profits thanks to lower shipping costs

Here are some actionable tips on how small businesses can implement logistics automation.

Use a shipping tool that can compare shipping carriers on one page

Working with multiple carriers allows your logistics to be more flexible and reliable. It’s definitely worth researching additional companies you can work with to service your clients.

But with other 400 shipping companies around the world, it can be both overwhelming and time consuming to narrow down your options and find the best carrier for your business.

Easyship’s Get A Quote feature does just this. By entering the destination country you’re shipping to, in addition to the item category, weight, dimensions, and value of your package, you can see over 100+ solutions and compare important details such as pricing, tracking, and delivery times. Get a glimpse of the Get A Quote feature by checking out Easyship’s free rates calculator.

Have an algorithm (instead of a human) provide shipping quotes to all customers

If you have dedicated staff that provide shipping quotes to customers, you’re doing a disservice to both your team and your customers! The time spent researching and providing shipping quotes could be better used to service customers with more important requests.

Instead, consider installing calculated rates at your store checkout. Major ecommerce platforms like Shopify offer this functionality out of the box. These are accurate shipping rates based on the weight and dimension of your products, in addition to the location of the customer. That way, customers can instantly know how much shipping is, without having to wait for a custom quote from you.

Better yet, find a shipping plugin that provides full visibility on all costs associated with shipping, such as tax & duty amounts, and any additional handling fees that may apply. Having this information available is especially useful for your international customers.

Create labels and fill out required documents – without the pen and paper

Whether you have 10 or 10,000 orders, there are tools available to help you import your orders in one click and begin generating shipping labels – all without having to write out address labels or do any manual data entry.

If you’re selling on multiple platforms, consider using inventory management systems like TradeGecko and Sellbrite, which integrate with various shipping apps. That way, you can sync orders from every platform all at once.

If you’re shipping internationally, it’s also worth finding a shipping software that can automatically generate documents such as customs forms and commercial invoices.

Make processing times quicker by saving weights, dimensions, and shipping preferences for frequently shipped items

If your business sells a variety of items with different weights, dimensions, and shipping requirements, processing shipments can take a lot of time.

You can speed up this process by saving the dimensions and weights of all of your products, either in your ecommerce platform’s shipping section, or your shipping software.

While entering this data may take time upfront, once it’s completed, your software will never forget this information – making shipping label generation a lot quicker!

Additionally, take advantage of your shipping software’s automation rules – these are preferences you can save based on carriers, destinations, and more.

For example, if you ship often to Australia and DHL provides the most affordable rate to that region, you can set a rule that says, “For all shipments going to Australia, use DHL.” Once orders going to Australia are synced into your dashboard, DHL labels should automatically generate for these shipments.

Apply the “set it and forget it” mentality to your tracking notifications

According to MyCustomer.com, 82% of consumers said it is was important that retailers proactively communicate every fulfilment and delivery stage. This means that choosing a shipping solution without tracking, or not providing tracking updates to your customers is unacceptable in today’s ecommerce landscape.

Consider using a scalable shipment tracking solution such as Aftership, or find a shipping software that will help you manage tracking notifications more effectively by automatically sending emails with the tracking number to customers. This service should also allow you to monitor all tracking numbers in real-time.

Put the phone down and schedule pickups online

Gone are the days when you have to call a carrier to schedule a pickup! Now, many express carriers (and some postal carriers, depending on which country you live in) allow you to schedule pickups online from the comfort of your office or home.

Additionally, some shipping softwares also give you the opportunity to schedule pickups directly from their dashboard, so you don’t even need to head over to your carrier’s website. This is definitely worth taking advantage of, as it can save you as much as 4.5 hours per week on package pickups and dropoffs.

Conclusion

Whether you’re just starting out or you have thousands of orders to ship, every business can benefit from automating their logistics.

To begin, all you need to do is find a reliable shipping software and invest a little time upfront to set it up. Once all your product information and preferences are saved, you’re well on your way to scaling your business.

Say hello to faster processing times, less human errors, and an improved customer experience!

Bio: Michelle Mondonedo is the content marketer at Easyship, a free shipping management tool that helps ecommerce sellers ship worldwide in minutes.

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