One of the challenges small businesses tend to face is managing shipping orders. Slow deliveries can put a dent in customer relationships. Fast deliveries, on the other hand, can be a means to retaining customer loyalty. So what are the best shipping options for a small business?
There are diverse shipping options for small businesses selling on the internet. However, choosing the best shipping option that serves your customers’ needs can be a hassle. In this article, you’ll learn the best shipping choices for small e-commerce businesses. You’ll also find each option’s unique qualities to help you choose what’s best for you.
Small Businesses Shipping Dilemma
Due to the large sales seen with e-commerce businesses, more and more businesses are going online. In addition, research shows that 93.5% of global internet users purchased a product online last year. For a small business owner, this can mean a threat from larger competitors.
Being a small business owner isn’t an easy task. To maintain every phase of the supply chain, small business owners have to manage all aspects of the business; from production to distribution. In addition, because of the competition from large businesses, small business owners might struggle with handling shipping costs for large orders.
Unlike large businesses, small business owners often find it difficult to use costly shipping options; like Walmart and FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). Therefore, they are left to find the best shipping company for small businesses that will save costs; and also provide quality services.
Small Businesses Fulfillment
Fulfillment is the process of receiving, processing, and delivering customer orders. It covers all the aspects from booking, processing, packaging and finally, delivering orders to the customers.
Order fulfillment has become a go-to for most online business owners, including big corporations like Amazon and Walmart. With order fulfillment by a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider, small business owners can worry less about completing customers’ orders.
Shipping Options 101 for Small Businesses
There are many different shipping options to choose from; ranging from USPS, UPS to FedEx. It can sometimes be a challenge to choose the one that works best for business. So, to make the best decision for your business, here is some information about each shipping option.
USPS (United States Postal Service)
USPS is one of the most common shipping options for small businesses. This company handles both global and local shipping orders. They have free APIs that allow small businesses to add shipping tools to their e-commerce websites. USPS is one of the least costly shippers for small businesses. For bulk orders, they offer considerable discounts and loyalty credits, helping small businesses save costs.
USPS, however, doesn’t handle heavy orders. If you deal mainly in light-weight orders, then this is the best shipping option for you; if your package or product is usually less than 2 pounds, you should use USPS. Moreover, USPS offers a flat rate price for priority mail services. Plus, USPS is the only shipping option that provides shipping services for mail and post office boxes.
- Quick delivery time, USPS transition takes only 2-9 days (for local shipping) and offers international shipping.
- Free package pick-up.
- Flat rate boxes for priority mail.
- USPS cannot handle heavy orders
- Delivery on weekends requires additional costs
- Poor customer service
- Limited tracking system
UPS (United Parcel Service)
UPS is one of the best shipping options for small businesses. Unlike USPS, UPS is faster and more secure in delivery services. Most small business owners use this option because of its reliable tracking system and speed deliveries. If you need a shipping option that has a strong tracking system, UPS is the best for you.
Furthermore, UPS offers a broader range of shipping options for small businesses. From international shipping to express and freight shipment, among others. They provide different offers including:
- Ocean freight
- Air freight
- Freight tracking solution
- A good option for items larger than 2 pounds
- Great tracking system.
- Offers value-added services to enhance shipping services like UPS returns, Direct delivery, etc.
- Express shipping option
- Discounted rates for members
- Usually expensive due to surcharges and shipping fees
- Weekend deliveries cost extra
- No free package pickup offers
- Rates are based on weight, size, and location
While there are not many differences between UPS and FedEx, this shipping option still has unique qualities. FedEx offers shipping options locally and internationally. They also have lots of value-added services including insurance policies and free weekend deliveries. For faster deliveries, large shipments, and precise tracking, FedEx is the best shipping option for small businesses.
- Weekend delivery available
- Discounts for bulk orders
- Accurate tracking system
- Reward programs for consistent customers
- FedEx SmartPost delivers to P.O. boxes
- Usually expensive due to surcharges and fees
- Doesn’t offer free package pickup services
- Limited office locations
- Peak surcharges and fees
Dropshipping is a fulfillment method in which a store transfers a customer’s order to a third-party supplier for preparing and shipping the order to the customer. In this fulfillment method, the store doesn’t retain the product it sells–it outsources warehousing. With dropshipping, businesses can have an e-commerce website where they sell products. Then, the order is passed to a third-party supplier, which processes, packages, and delivers the products to the customers.
3PL (Third Party Logistics)
As a small business or e-commerce business owner, fulfillment is an integral part of your business. It is vital to understand the advantages of a 3PL to grow your business and establish solid customer relationships.
Third-party logistics (3PL) is the transfer of e-commerce logistic services—management, warehousing, and fulfillment—to a third-party provider.
Best Shipping Option For Small Businesses
To ensure that customer loyalty is retained, small businesses’ best shipping option is to merge with 3PL companies. Working with 3PL will ensure hitch-free order fulfillment and shipping experience for small businesses. Partnering with a 3PL provides many benefits for small business owners trying to stand firm against their larger competitors. Some of these fantastic benefits include the following advantages.
Small business owners handle most operations, from production to distribution. But using 3PLs providers enables them to address the shipments, which gives you more time to focus on your business. And this helps small business owners to retain customer satisfaction.
As a small business owner, you need to find means to save costs whenever possible. Outsourcing to 3PL is a great way to start. Some shipping companies for small businesses offer low and discount prices.
Maintaining good customer service is needed for all businesses. As a small business owner, it’s more crucial. 3PLs can help you deliver premium services to your customers, which can help retain customer loyalty.
It’s Like Having A Warehousing Team In Your Back Pocket
3PLs offers warehousing, transportation, and dordersbution services to help you handle customers’ orders efficiently. They offer a wide range of services including procurement, storage, transportation, and order fulfillment. The order fulfillment services include:
- Custom packaging
- Apparel fulfillment
- DVD fulfillment
- Subscription kits
- Kitting and assembly services
- Workbook printing