Small business operators are always looking for ways to make small business shipping easy and affordable. After all the challenges this year has thrown at us, looking toward the future may include making fundamental changes to your supply chain and shipping strategy that’ll help you save money, increase efficiencies and improve the customer experience. Keep reading for tips and best practices on how to make small business shipping easy and affordable.
Packaging and Inventory
Making small business shipping easy and affordable starts with two things, product inventory and packaging supplies management. Forging healthy relationships with manufacturers and suppliers and working with them to fulfill your capacity demands in an appropriate amount of time is a big challenge for supply chains today. Think of it as a symbiotic relationship. You rely on your manufacturers and suppliers, and they rely on you. Working as a team, communicating your business needs clearly and being flexible will go a long way. But if issues arise, there are ways to alleviate the troubles.
One way to mitigate problems is to have a plan. Think ahead and maintain enough inventory on hand so you don’t have to worry about a shortage. In times like these, surplus supplies and inventory don’t seem quite like the costly burdens they once were. These extra supplies and inventory are advantages as you look ahead to shipping during the holiday season, for example.
Keep track of the inventory and supplies you have, so you can reorder items in plenty of time before you get too low. This will help you stay on track with your plan, and it will help your suppliers not get bogged down in last minute, high-demand orders.
Having enough packaging materials to properly package and ship your freight is vital too. After all, you can’t ship anything if it’s not properly packaged. For a comprehensive look into internal and external packaging materials as well as some best practices, check out our Guide to Freight Packaging.
Have a Supply Chain and Shipping Game Plan
The unforeseen events of 2020 caused a lot of havoc and disruption for supply chains of all sizes all over the world. But, being able to handle the unexpected is what makes a strong, functional, reliable supply chain. The best way to mitigate business disruptions is to have a business plan and shipping strategy in place before the unexpected happens. That’s easier said than done, but it’s well worth the time and effort.
It all comes down to strategy, and that’s where a business continuity plan comes into play. Basically, a business continuity plan outlines how a business will continue to operate during an unplanned disruption, such as a pandemic or natural disasters, which comes in handy if you’re shipping during hurricane season.
When you have a business continuity plan in place, you have one less thing to worry about. You will be able to identify what needs to happen and when, which employees are essential, and how to address shipping disruptions to keep your business running smoothly. With a plan in place, you won’t be scrambling or wondering what to do. Instead, you will be checking items off from your plan while you meet the needs of your customers.
Freight shipping has moved to the digital age, and that means small business shipping is easier and more affordable than ever before. Gone are the days of having to reach out to individual carriers one at a time and comparing each quote or having to jump through hoops just to figure out where your cargo is during transit.
With the help of a transportation management system (TMS), you can do everything shipping-related all in one centralized platform. Based on your shipment details, you’ll see the available carriers and lanes and be able to easily compare rates, so you can choose the option that works best for you. A powerful TMS can also help you manage all your freight paperwork and tracking options, while offering business insights to help you ship more efficiently.
When you work with a 3PL, you get the best of technology with a personalized touch. Third-party logistics companies (3PLs) have access to TMS platforms and the human capacity to handle it for you.
Partner with a 3PL
There are many benefits of partnering with a 3PL, but ultimately, partnering with a 3PL makes small business shipping easy and affordable. FreightCenter serves as your own personal shipping department. You get a dedicated shipping agent who gets to know your business and your shipping needs and matches them with the right freight solutions.
Our powerful TMS streamlines the shipping process for you and saves you time, so you can make big decisions quickly and with confidence. And our network of carriers grants us discounted rates that we pass onto you.