Distribution warehouse manager in discussion with colleagues

4 Ways to Tackle Shipping With Your Expanding Small Business

By Emma Sturgis

Small businesses often run into trouble as they begin to expand. When you expand, your business is vulnerable: you’re often purchasing new inventory and trying new things. As you take on additional clientele and products, shipping becomes the most difficult to handle process. Here are four ways that you can effectively manage your shipping while still being able to expand.

1) Invest in Technology: ERP Software and Inventory Management Solutions

  • Invest in enterprise resource planning solutions. ERP software will give you additional information about how to manage your inventory and shipping.
  • Get an inventory management solution. Being able to manage your sales relies upon your ability to accurately manage your inventory.

2) Automate Your Business: Customer Support and Order Management

  • Offer self-service customer support. Self-service customer support is very desirable for modern consumers. Many customers want to be able to consult an easy to read FAQ page or a “knowledgebase” rather than having to talk to someone. Consequently, providing the customer with self-service options will provide a better customer service experience while reducing administrative time.
  • Improve the automation of your order management. Automatic inventory refreshing, support service emails, and other simple tasks will further reduce administrative time while reducing errors. Look for small ways in which you can streamline your operations and automate your communications.

3) Consider Outsourcing: Administration and Drop Shipping Services

  • Find administrative services. By outsourcing your inventory fulfillment and product tracking services, you can ensure that your orders are processed and delivered on time.
  • Consider drop shipping services. These services hold your inventory and mail it for you, so that your business doesn’t need to worry about the process of fulfillment at all.

4) Fine Tune Your Processes: Shipping Strategies and Special Cases

  • Develop strategies. Your business should have written processes regarding how shipping and product fulfillment is to be managed; this will make your day-to-day operations run more smoothly. If your employees need to determine the next step in a complicated process, they will be able to simply consult the manual rather than having to problem solve.
  • Figure out management strategies for special cases. Bulk shipments, wholesale shipments, and custom shipments will likely arise that require the use of a shipping company. If you don’t already have a shipping plan in place, they could become a roadblock.

Depending on your business and needs, streamlining could mean various tasks for your company. Consider investing in software, outsourcing delivery, and planning for unique shipments and the services they may require. Any attention you put towards product fulfillment and shipping will be rewarded with a more streamlined business process.

Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer based in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and small business. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2.