5 Common Shipping Slip-Ups

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Each year, U.S. businesses lose hundreds of thousands in revenue because of errors in their shipping operations.

The reason is it so easy to error is that shipping is complex and ever changing, hard to keep up with for all but the Amazons of the world.

Where do warehousing and shipping professionals like me see the most problems? Here are my top 5.

1. Wait. Is that really the weight?

Rather than invest in good scales, some companies guesstimate the weight of their packages. If your guess is off and a package costs $5 more to mail than you had estimated, it’s a small problem. But if you are mailing, say 500 identical packages and each costs $5 more than you had planned, that’s a $2,500 mistake, a big hit for a small business. It is much cheaper in the long run to invest in scales than to make inaccurate estimates or have your shipper reweigh packages and add on a fee.

2. Protect your product. It costs peanuts.

Pinch pennies when it comes to packaging your products, and you will pay the price. The cost of Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, quality boxes and packaging tape is one of the smallest and smartest investments you can make. Damaged goods cost you in multiple ways. For one, damaged items must be returned and replacements reshipped. But the even greater damage is to your company’s reputation. Bad packaging telegraphs poor quality, and that could keep a customer from ordering from your company again.

3. Don’t put all your boxes in one basket.

Building a long-term, ongoing relationship with a shipper is wise because it allows you to negotiate rates and hopefully, get better customer service. But make sure you work closely with more than one shipping company. Carriers can have their issues–from strikes and financial issues to new ownership and changes in operating policies. Working with multiple shippers gives you more flexibility and ultimately, more power.

4. Ensure your paperwork is accurate.

Getting one little number wrong can send your shipments off to who knows where. Make sure you carefully check all the records, labels, bills of lading and other paperwork required in the shipping stream.

5. Listen to your customers

Customers are your best source of information. Make it easy for them to tell you about shipments that arrive late or not at all, products that are damaged along the way and other problems. By keeping a record of complaints you will be able to identify persistent problems and work with your shipping carriers to correct them. Encourage your customers to let you know about shipping issues and make sure you reward them by quickly rectifying their problems.


Sharon Vanover

July 11, 2016

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