As of 2019, the world shipping trade had a total value of $14 trillion. More than 90% of global shipping is handled by ships each year. An average of 11 billion tons of cargo are transported by ship annually. That’s 1.5 tons per person on this planet.
The shipping industry is efficient, but it can only be as good as the businesses that avail of its services. Even the slightest errors can lead to massive losses. Every year, 5% of a business’ shipping costs are lost because of shipping errors. Even with all the highest possible standards in play, fulfillment services across the globe have an error rate of 1%-3% each year. While the industry is responsible for many of these mistakes, businesses need to pay attention when it comes to shipping their products.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common shipping mistakes that small businesses must avoid. Especially, if they want to be successful and avoid losses.
When shipping your products, it's important to take care of them. Improper packaging can damage your product and make it less likely to arrive in good shape.
If you're sending an item through the mail, you need to protect it with something like bubble wrap or foam peanuts. You don't want the item bouncing around in its box, and other objects damaging it. It could even scrape against the sides of the box if not secure. This is especially important if you're sending something breakable!
Although it might seem counterintuitive, using too much tape can cause more damage than not enough tape. If you have too much tape, it can rip off paint or other finishes on your product. Thus, making them dull and flaky when removed. Plus, if there's too much tape on an item that customers need to open, they may have trouble getting into it. Therefore, they may damage your product in the process.
Also, ensure that your box can fit everything you need to ship and still be able to go through the sorting machine. You'll also want to make sure that if your package is going overseas, it fits within certain size requirements for international mail. If you’re delivering in bulk and in a container, the boxes should meet the standards set by the logistics company you’re working with. Otherwise, they might not ship your cargo due to improper packaging standards.
In this day and age, shipping costs are a big part of what makes or breaks your business. If you're not calculating the shipping costs for your business, you're likely losing money. As a small business, every cent counts. You need to know how much it costs to ship your products, then charge customers accordingly.
Use an estimate shipping calculator to calculate total shipping costs. Once you know how much it will cost for each item to ship, multiply that number by the number of units you plan to sell. This will give you a rough estimate of how much money each item will cost you in terms of raw materials and labor during production plus shipping costs once they're sold.
Improper labeling of cargo can be a costly mistake for small businesses. This mistake can happen in many ways. The most common way is by neglecting to label your cargo at all. If you don't know what's in your container and someone else does, you could be liable for any damage that happens as a result.
Another common shipping mistake is using improper labels. You might think that labeling your cargo "Fragile" or "Handle with Care" is sufficient. However, these phrases are not legally binding on the shipping company. You need to use specific language like "This side up" or "Do not drop" to ensure they handle it properly.
If you're not sure what kind of labels you need by law, check with your shipping company. Or, look them up online before shipping anything out.
Always print a label that contains all of the necessary information about your shipment. This means including:
These details will help your shipper and delivery personnel to better understand what you are shipping. Thus, they know how best to handle it. Otherwise, the cargo or product might end up in the wrong place, or its contents may sustain damage on the way. In 2018, 21% of all large products delivered within the US arrived with damage, most of which was because of poor cargo handling practices. Whatever you do, ensure that your business doesn’t become a part of that statistic.
66% of businesses worldwide use automation in at least one business function, according to a 2020 survey. It’s a huge leap from the 57% recorded in 2018. Small businesses, too, must adopt such processes, especially when it comes to shipping.
When you automate your shipping process, you can schedule shipments in advance so that they are sent out on time. This way, you won't have to worry about missing deadlines or sending out late packages. It also helps if you have multiple employees within your business who will be responsible for sending them out because they will all be working from the same system and therefore know exactly where everything needs to go.
You'll also save money because there will be fewer mistakes made when it comes time to send out products or mail invoices each month. This means fewer delays in payment and less time spent trying to track down lost items or missing paperwork.
That’s all for this article. Understanding how these shipping mistakes can hurt you and how you can do things right will help your small business grow bigger and succeed in the long run.