8 Best Practices On Simplifying The Shipping Process
Logistics and transportation have become a central part of all industries. As the world shrinks through globalization and e-commerce, it becomes clearer with each passing year that all businesses, whether small or large, should start implementing a shipping process that allows them to sell to a worldwide audience.
The global third-party logistics revenue has tallied up to $956 billion per year, and that number looks to grow as technology enables all brands to reach a worldwide audience. Of course, logistics can be much easier said than done as the process could become quite tedious, especially in the beginning.
But there are best practices that, once implemented, can help streamline the shipping process and make it simpler for anyone in any business sector. So let’s look at eight highly actionable business practices that could streamline a shipping process for any business.
1. Have an enterprise resource planning tool
The key to thriving in the digital age is to maximize digital business tools. One tool that any business looking to ship nationally or internationally should look into enterprise resource planning. This software, also known as ERP, is an all-in-one business suite that allows any company to manage business processes and integrate them all in one dashboard. ERP software provides a solution that brings accounting, client management, inventory, logistics, and customer service all in one platform.
With ERP software, a company can manage invoices, inventory SKUs, client lists, complaint reports, compliances, supplier contacts, operations protocols, accounting, and many others in one place. By integrating logistics with the rest of the business through an ERP tool, you can increase productivity and lessen miscommunications.
2. Use order tracking software
Ecommerce now takes up 21.8% of all retail sales, and the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated that growth. But as companies who ship out orders to customers at a business-to-consumer level, tracking those shipments can become an issue. That’s why having a dashboard where you can track orders and give updates on their whereabouts becomes non-negotiable.
Order anxiety for B2C customers, or even B2B clients in many instances, starts with ambiguity on shipping progress. By providing an automated dashboard that gives real-time updates can help lower that anxiety and improve the customer experience. Many ERP software like Fresa Gold can provide online tracking.
3. Create an inventory management and logistics workflow
Shipments, like many parts of any business operation, should follow a strict workflow to maintain some level of predictability and automation. Following protocol turns any part of operations into a well-oiled machine that gets results for the company and its clients. But some organizations miss out on putting that workflow into a documented format for all staff to refer to.
Write down the shipping process steps and create corresponding materials to communicate to all members of the inventory management and shipping operation and disseminate accordingly. Put the workflow into a centralized operation manual for people to refer back to for future reference.
4. Communicate regularly with your warehouse
One of the other crucial shipping best practices to put in place is a regular check-in with your warehouse. This can be in the form of a weekly check-in meeting or a daily updating process. These regular communication lines will help build a muscle of letting the rest of the business know what’s going on on the ground. Logistics are the circulatory system of any business, and it’s good to know how the flow is coming in order to know the health of the entire business organization. Putting this information in a dashboard for all to check as needed will also provide another layer of accountability and support.
5. Look into business analytics
Business analytics and data give decision-makers and managers of an organization a better glimpse of how a company is doing overall. The most basic data that most executives and entrepreneurs look at are the company’s sales and marketing traffic. But companies should also start adding numbers from logistics and delivery if they want to be more proactive about business growth.
Looking at pending shipment reports, average delivery times, shipment concerns reported, the number of delays, spoilage, and other logistics-related numbers can enable decisions that will save considerable resources and increase customer satisfaction and even bottom-line growth.
6. Assign a business manager to oversee logistics
If your company or organization is looking to learn how to improve the shipping process, another practice to consider is putting a business manager to oversee the logistics side of the business. Seeing delivery from the lens of a business practitioner provides fresh insight into the process. A business manager can help streamline other processes, fix leaks in the system, and improve communication and collaboration by miles.
Look into the average business administration salary and find a candidate that provides proactivity and out-of-the-box thinking. The goal of having a business manager in place for logistics isn’t to put out tactical fires but to look forward to the future and think of ways to improve the process. Getting a slasher manager to take care of logistics and other aspects of the organization work too as long as he or she doesn’t have too much on their plate.
7. Build a list of go-to courier services
When thinking of ideas to improve on-time delivery, the first thing that will pop out is the importance of partnering with reliable third-party logistics. As an inventory and logistics department grows, it becomes relatively clear that having one third-party logistics provider won’t cut it. To build a list of go-to courier services that your company can contact and outsource deliveries to as needed.
Apart from varying speeds in delivery, the cost can be a factor too. Some 3PLs will cost more than others to deliver to certain places. Then there’s the factor of shipment size. So put in a cost analysis to know which courier is best when delivering to certain places and when delivering a certain volume. This kind of information will go well on an enterprise resource planning platform too so that everyone in the logistics and transport department knows which courier to contact for each shipment.
8. Constantly optimize distribution networks and operations
Having optimized distribution networks can increase profit margins from 6 to 10%. But optimization is more of a journey than a destination. So take time to review distribution networks, standard operating procedures, suppliers, partners, and software to determine whether they’re still the best tool or system to utilize within the business.
As innovators continue to create systems that automate warehouse processes, look into each tool and update and see how you can use it within your operations too. Have an internal committee do research on the latest trends in logistics software to determine what kind of solutions your company can invest in to streamline day-to-day operations.
Delivery Up! So Tool Up!
Globalization will continue to accelerate the logistics industry and end consumers will continue to expect faster and more accurate shipments with time. So if you intend to be a business that remains relevant, constantly looking into best practices and applying them to your business will be key to business growth and longevity.
The world is shrinking and processes are improving. It’s best that your logistics department or operation keep up with the times and adopt better systems, processes, and practices to get in the game and start reaching more people.