Thanks to the internet, advanced technology, and streamlined logistic services, small businesses in the United States can now cater to customers anywhere in the country. In the past, a small business’ success is determined by how well its community supports it. Today, small businesses are now more competitive and are reaching out to customers that were once geographically unserviceable.
But that’s not to say that the process of shipping products to customers has already been perfected. We’re still a long way to go before shipping can be the most convenient and cost-effective way of sales. So, here’s what you need to know about shipping your products to your local and international customers.
Choose Your Range Wisely
Despite all the advancements in the logistical industry, there’s a reason why some small businesses still refuse to serve customers outside their country or state. One reason is that their product won’t survive the trip to the customer (e.g. a local organic shampoo seller knows their product won’t reach the customer by a certain date because their shampoos have an expiration date shorter than the ETA). Another is because the cost of shipping isn’t worth the profit.
Because of these reasons, it’s important for you to assess the range of how far you want to reach potential customers and how feasible it is. For some small business owners like bakeries, florists, and caterers, it might be practical to limit your range. But if you see the potential for a bigger market in your niche industry and have the means to work with logistics companies that offer last-mile delivery, go for it if you can assess the probability of increasing your range.
Offer Free Shipping (Even If It’s Not Really Free)
Most businesses already know this by now: free shipping is not really free. It is a marketing tool used to attract customers under the belief that, by doing business with an online store providing free shipping, they’re saving money compared to buying from other stores that don’t have free shipping. So, instead of abandoning their carts when they see the shipping prices, they’re likely to follow through with their purchase.
In reality, if you price your products right, you can still profit even when you offer free shipping. If you factor in the shipping costs into your inventory, your customers don’t have to feel like they’re shouldering the additional costs of shipping. There’s also the option of offering free shipping for customers who spend a certain amount so the total of the mark-up they’re paying can both pay for the shipping costs as well as provide a profit.
Whatever Happens to the Product Is on You
There’s only so much you can do to ensure that your products arrive in good quality. However, poor handling by your logistics partner may cause damage or completely destroy your product despite your efforts to safely ship it. From a legal standpoint, you are not liable to your customer if your product was in good condition and properly packaged when you gave it to your carrier.
Unfortunately, not all customers care about this, so even if you did your due diligence as a seller, the product arriving damaged or in poor condition may reflect badly on your business. This could lead to negative reviews that can hurt your business, as 88 percent of consumers trust and are swayed by online reviews.
Aside from limiting your range to reduce the time and handling it takes to get your products to your consumers, you have to be careful with the logistics company you partner your business with. This may be a B2B relationship, but their poor service can affect your customer’s satisfaction, and your customers will be more likely to take it out on you rather than the courier. So, choose a logistics company that provides quality services for the best price.
Technology has allowed small businesses to expand their reach, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without flaws. Choose to work with a logistics company that can provide your courier needs for the best rates without sacrificing quality and timeliness.