7 Small Business Packaging and Shipping Tips to Know

You’re a small business owner with a great product, so, naturally, it’ll sell itself. Right?

Not exactly.

Producing a product that “sells itself” doesn’t mean your product is going to sell. You need to cross the final hurdle: getting your product into the hands of your consumers. Since tapping into brick and mortar retailers isn’t an option for most small business owners, you’ll likely take the e-commerce approach.

And if you want to find success in that market, you’ll need to master — not just understand — the world of small business packaging and shipping. From shipping costs to return policies, there’s a lot to unpack.

But we’re here to ship you in the right direction. Put your business on the path to success with these 7 small business packaging and shipping tips.

1. Optimize Dimensional Weight

Years ago, major shipping companies liked FedEx and USPS transitioned to a dimensional weight pricing model. Also known as dim weight, dimensional weight is a measure of the size of your package based on its weight. These shipping services will charge you based on dim weight or total weight, depending on which is greater.

What does this mean for you? If your packaging is inefficient, you’ll end up paying more for every package you ship. Any time you have to pay for shipping based on dim weight, that’s a good sign you need to reevaluate your packaging methods.

2. Start Branding

Customers expect a certain level of professionalism whenever they work with a business of any size. If your package arrives in a simple unlabeled box, you’ll seem as legitimate as an eBay seller.

That’s not a great look.

Turn to a professional package fulfillment service and order customized corrugated cardboard boxes. In addition to specialized shapes and sizes, which can help you avoid dim weight surcharges, you’ll also have the opportunity to brand the packaging.

3. Offer Free Shipping

Shipping prices will have a major impact on the success of your e-commerce business. Charge too little and your bottom line will suffer. Charge too much and — because you’ll scare customers away — your bottom line will suffer.

The secret is understanding your company’s finances, as well as the market, and offering some creative deals.

Free shipping across the board isn’t affordable for most companies. Instead, they adopt price-based free shipping thresholds. If a customer orders a certain amount of product, the shipping is on you!

This works in two ways. The first is since you price the threshold under your median checkout range, you encourage customers to buy more to enjoy the offer. And since 48% of consumers will buy more for free shipping, you benefit from the revenue you would have missed otherwise.

If free shipping still doesn’t work for your business, seek out flat rates. These are more convenient for the customer and for you since you can estimate shipping expenses with ease.

4. Consider Shipping Software

If you’re a very small business or happy handling high-volume shipping on your own, opt for shipping software. From here, you’ll be able to generate rates on the fly, create labels, and store shipping bills. It’s an all-in-one package.

Not only is it time-efficient, but it helps your customers, too. Some shipping software plugs directly into your website, automating things like shipping rates and tracking information.

5. Outsource the Shipping Process

As your small business grows, you may discover that shipping is eating up too much of your time. If that’s the case, consider a fulfillment center.

These warehouses hold your product. When a customer makes a sale, the warehouse will automatically handle the packing and shipping process.

Of course, these fulfillment services dig into your bottom line. However, they can be a worthwhile investment in comparison to hiring an employee to handle your shipping demands.

6. Rely on Carriers

Carriers are an excellent alternative to fulfillment centers. Without outside help, you’re responsible for riving your packages to your point of shipping, such as a post office. That’s a time-consuming and expensive hassle when you have other revenue-generating tasks to complete.

However, most carriers offer pickup services — and some of them are even free. They’ll arrive at your place of work to deliver your packages in your stead. It’s as simple as making a phone call or even sending a notification online.

7. Expand Into Multiple Channels

An e-commerce business needs a home. It may be a personal business website or a page on a service such as Etsy.

Wherever you’re currently located, here’s a simple truth: more storefronts mean more revenue. You should expand beyond your home base, whether that means creating a website, Etsy storefront, or negotiating to get your products up on Amazon.

Keep in mind that while these marketplaces offer enhanced visibility, they do complicate your sales process. For example, you’ll need to follow the policies of any marketplaces you work with — and they’ll take a small cut of the profit as the middleman.

Of course, it pays not to expand everywhere. Know your market. Etsy is great for handmade creations, but if you’re fulfilling a specific industry niche, like computer components, you should look to a place like Newegg or Amazon.

The Art of Small Business Packaging and Shipping

E-commerce opens up a world of customers and possibilities, but also a new host of challenges to overcome. With the right small business packaging and shipping policies, you’ll be able to satisfy customer demands while maximizing your bottom line. Research, experiment, and analyze until you find the strategy that works for you.

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