In the world of 2-day (or 2-hour) delivery, there’s no denying that customers prefer quick and efficient delivery experiences. However, most small businesses don’t have a fleet of vans at their disposal, nor do they have the shipping volume to even need that.
The post office is an option, but when you need that large shipment sent out yesterday, flat-rate shipping won't cut it. There are other ways to ship large items that are better for small businesses.
Here are six shipping tips for small businesses to make sending and receiving large shipments simple and seamless.
1. Utilize a TMS
A transportation management system (TMS) is a great tool for maximizing your time and resources when it comes to logistics. They take most of the headaches out of planning, execution, and tracking shipments by keeping everything in one place.
Small business owners should consider using a TMS so they can easily track their shipments and payments as well as increase efficiency. Technology can’t fix everything, but TMSs are great tools for keeping shipments on track.
2. Optimize Your Delivery Route
Traffic wastes time. Time is money.
When your clients are depending on your shipment it’s important to make sure your goods reach them in time. Optimizing your delivery route is integral for making sure this happens.
A good place to start is by using your knowledge of the area. You may know what streets get clogged and when rush hour is the worst. Use this to your advantage and take routes that avoid high-traffic spots.
There are two basic approaches to route planning:
Static routing should be reserved for consistent and important customers. You know where you need to go and what schedules to keep.
Dynamic routing accounts for several factors and adapts the route accordingly. Shipping services will often run into snags during the last mile of delivery. This could include out-of-the-way stops, unusual traffic or accidents, and even weather. Dynamic routing helps shippers avoid all of these hangups.
3. Be Flexible
Businesses that plan ahead may not need their shipments to be fulfilled ASAP. However, even when planning ahead, there are always unforeseen circumstances. Because of this, it is not a good idea to rely on only one kind of shipping. It’s a general tip for businesses to be as flexible as possible.
If you can afford the time, rely on LTL freight. Shipping costs for LTL are generally low, but shipping time varies wildly.
If there is an unforeseen circumstance and despite all your planning ahead you find you desperately need something shipped ASAP, there are other options. These options are great for businesses who don’t have time to wait for LTL shipping:
Hotshot trucking is flexible. While LTL trucks have to wait to be filled before starting fulfillment, hotshots can start moving right away. They don’t have to make other stops, they take the package and ship it right to its destination, with no deviation.
Open Road is an easy-to-use app that gives small businesses access to hotshot drivers to fulfill their shipping needs fast. Whether you have a quick strict deadline or something scheduled down the road, Open Road will connect you with an independent driver to move your product or material to where it needs to go. It’s the B2B shipping solution for small businesses.
There aren’t many things in the world less frustrating than contacting customer service about a lost package and never getting a response. The shipper and the receiver need to keep an open line of communication.
Small businesses that keep clear lines of communication will be much more successful in the world of shipping. When something goes wrong or if there are any questions, they need to be available to sort it out. This won’t only make shipping a better and easier experience for everyone, but it will create a relationship with customers and increase their loyalty.
5. Secure Your Material
Ok, maybe there is something worse than not hearing back from customer service—receiving a broken item.
Every item should be packed with care. Even large, sturdy items need special attention including tight plastic wraps on pallets. Cushioning materials like packing peanuts should also be used to protect your more fragile items.
Some of this might be common sense, but it’s easy to get caught up in speed and forget the basics. Don’t use a truck bed when shipping an item that needs to stay out of the elements. Fill in the gaps with foam or bubble wrap and straps things down.
Replacing damaged items can do a number on your profit margin. Don’t let bad packaging and shipping set you back—secure your shipments.
6. Use the Open Road App
You can certainly implement all these tips yourself, but there is an easier way. Open Road offers easy transportation management, a quick line of communication, and safe drivers.
For small businesses wanting to move LTL shipments, Open Road solves most of the problems you’ll encounter during your shipping journey. Contact us today to get started.