If you’ve never shipped a package for your business — or have struggled with shipping in the past — you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll lay out a few easy steps for how to ship a package like a pro, covering all the essentials from choosing a carrier and printing labels to getting your shipments out the door quickly.
Choose the Right Carrier for Your Shipping Needs
Obvious statement here — you can’t ship a package without a carrier. But deciding on which carrier — or carriers — are best for your specific needs warrants a bit of homework. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options available, from national carriers such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, to regional and international carriers that might be better-suited for specific package types or destinations.
Carrier rates can vary significantly and constantly fluctuate. To find the right fit, you’ll need to find out which carriers deliver to the destinations you’ll ship to (domestic vs. international, for instance), as well as the shipping costs of using each available carrier and service-level.
An easy way to compare carriers and find the best rates is to use a multi-carrier shipping software like Shippo, which lets you quickly access real-time rates from more than 85 carriers across the globe to find the best shipping option for your business.
Compare Rates, Purchase Postage, and Print Your Labels
Next, you need to purchase and print your labels. Generally speaking, there are two main ways shippers go about doing this:
- Directly through a carrier: After creating an account with a specific carrier, you’ll input your shipment info, which will calculate shipping pricing based on package weight and how far you’re shipping your packages. From there, your carrier will provide you with postage options that you can purchase and apply to your shipments.
- Through a shipping platform: With Shippo, for example, you can access rates from across our entire network of carriers, all within a central dashboard so you can decide which carrier and service-level best suit your specific shipping needs. You may also be able to take advantage of pre-negotiated discounts from certain carriers, sometimes up to 90% off retail prices. After you’ve purchased your labels, simply download and print!
A multi-carrier shipping platform delivers a quick, streamlined process for ordering and printing your labels. Shippo, for instance, offers automated label creation that auto-applies label selections based on rules you set up around properties such as package weight and destination. Another pro tip to help simplify the printing process if you’re a high-volume shipper or growing your e-commerce business quickly: a thermal label printer can help increase production speed while also providing a more professional packaging appearance.
Your customers’ satisfaction hinges upon you getting orders out in a timely manner. And to do that, you’ll need a streamlined system for staying organized. One best practice is to follow the ‘first-in, first-out rule’, where you fulfill orders and send them out in the order they came in. This ensures orders don’t get lost in the shuffle.
Next, be sure everyone on your team is fulfilling orders from a single document or central dashboard (such as the one provided by your e-commerce shopping cart or ERP system). If you’re using a spreadsheet, build it in a tool that’s cloud-based so that it can be accessed from multiple devices and updated in real-time. This should help reduce miscommunication and ensure you don’t make needless mistakes, such as fulfilling the same order twice.
Also, take advantage of filtering, which allows you to narrow down orders by specific criteria, such as order date or payment status. If you’re dealing with a large number of orders, filtering makes it possible to process priority packages more quickly and ensures you keep everything straight.
Get Your Shipments Out Fast
It’s no secret that today’s customers want to receive their orders in a hurry. According to a recent study, the maximum delivery time acceptable to the average person was 4.5 days in 2020 — down a whole day from 5.5 in 2012. The faster you can get your packages out the door and into the hands of your customers, the happier — and more loyal — those customers will be.
One way to make this a reality is incorporate time-saving tech in your shipping process. Automated label creation and printing is a great start, but there are plenty of other opportunities:
- Batch your label printing if you’re sending out multiple packages at once
- Use address validation to ensure you don’t waste time having to track down or resend orders
- Use order syncing to communicate customer order information between your e-commerce store and shipping solution
- Use a system that auto-generates purchase orders once inventory falls below a certain level to save time on reordering and avoid fulfillment delays
Maintain Close Communication with Customers
Finally, do your best to keep your customers in the loop throughout the entire shipping process. With 83% of shoppers expecting regular communication about their purchases, you need to give updates throughout the journey to keep them satisfied.
A good starting point is to automate notifications that customers can receive via email, text, or messenger app to let them know their orders are on their way.
For more e-commerce shipping best practices and tips, take a look at our Shippo 101 and Shippopedia resources, or put the above steps on how to ship a package like a pro in action by signing up for a free Shippo account.