Don’t make the mistake of neglecting the preparation aspect of any business. Peak shipping season is a great opportunity to gain more profit. Now, you can get organized with our shipping checklist to be in tip-top shape when it rolls around.
With small business shipping, being organized and on top of things is critical at all times. The margins on your business are not usually that big, so you need to ensure you always bring your A game. However, during the peak season, it’s even more essential.
Disappointing customers and annoying suppliers during the busiest periods can easily give your business a negative reputation that could last throughout the quiet periods too. This could be hugely detrimental to your business, and cost you a fortune in sales.
Peak Shipping Times Checklist For Your Business
So, how do you get your business prepared for peak shipping season? Let’s take a look:
1. Set Your Shipping Checklist Guides According To The Season
Whether you’re planning your own stock levels and ordering, or you’re providing shipping guides to customers, you should never have a one-size-fits-all approach. Things will change depending on the time of year and the general volumes of items being shipped. Just like a hotel will have peak and off-peak rates for their rooms, you should have peak and off-peak shipping season guidelines as part of your business processes.
Peak seasons can also vary slightly depending on what industry you’re in and what is being shipped. For example, on the consumer side of things, peak season will be November to December as people gear up for the holiday season. However, the retailers will need to gear up in the months before that, meaning their main shipping season is August through to October.
Over the Christmas period, it’s also a good idea to clearly provide details as to when the last order can be placed so that it will be shipped in time to give as a gift, or use over the holidays. Being open about this up front with your customers will alleviate a lot of heartache and worry. Plus it will provide your customers with a good user experience as they know whether or not their expectations will be met. No one likes not knowing if the gift they ordered will arrive in time!
2. Ship And Store What You Can Early
Shipping during peak season can also bring with it a hefty price tag. The demand for shipping lanes and transportation goes up and those providing these services can increase their rates (and usually do). If you have any products that are not perishable and can be shipped before you hit the peak season, it might be far more cost effective to do so.
Shipping early will come with other implications, especially the cost implication of storage at the receiver’s end. You may need to look into getting a warehouse space, which costs money. However, this could still be less than the increased shipping fees. Do your homework about small business shipping timings and plan accordingly.
3. Stagger Your Shipments Based On Need
What can often hold up a shipment, especially in the busier peak times, is that an entire order can’t be made ready at the same time. This means that one part of your order is sitting waiting and won’t be shipped to you until it is complete.
Instead of placing your regular orders, look critically at what is urgent during the peak period and only order that. You can talk to your suppliers about sending part orders so you don’t completely run out of something.
If you are shipping orders to customers, consider setting up a similar option for part orders. If you speak to regular customers early on about stock issues or potential issues with shipping, you can usually find a way around the concerns together.
4. Be Aware Of The Impact Of Holidays In Regards To Your Shipping Checklist
During the peak holiday season, there are fewer working days. This means that there is a higher demand for items to be shipped, and fewer days in which to make those shipments.
The impact of this could mean a longer time for an item to arrive or a higher price tag attached because the shipping company has to pay employees to work over a holiday. There are strict regulations around this in the trucking industry and other shipping methods so it’s a crucial item to add to your checklist.
5. Change Up Your Shipping Methods
Before demand for couriers and shipping goes up over the peak season, you may want to shop around and see what other options there are. You don’t always have to use the same company or method to send your products to customers or to get items from your suppliers. You should also consider seeing if the companies you use have flexible options.
For example, if you don’t mind the products arriving between 15 and 20 days, rather than arriving within 15 days, you might get a better rate on shipping. This is because the shipping company then has a bit of breathing room to work around the massively varying shipping requests coming in during peak season.
You can also consider creating your own small business shipping delivery methods if it’s possible. Look into the logistics of hiring a driver and a van for the peak season so that you can stay in control of what you deliver to your customers. It doesn’t have to be a permanent solution – just something to help you stay on top of things when they are busy.
6. Insure Your Shipping To Prioritize Your Shipping Checklist
This often seems like an unnecessary extra cost, but it can help your business to survive if a shipment goes missing or is delayed. In peak shipping season, it is far more likely that you will face one of these scenarios and that can do real damage to your ability to make money.
With proper shipping insurance, you can easily make claims and cover any losses that are incurred. This extra peace of mind can help you to thrive through the busy seasons and grow through the quieter periods.
Peak season can make or break your business. If you ensure you are prepared for peak shipping season, you should reap the rewards. Your bottom line will improve and your customer service and satisfaction ratings will too.