Shipping is a critical element of an e-commerce process. It’s the final stage that you have to get right. Whether it''s fair or not, customers will remember your startup business for its shipping efficiency more than its ordering system. Just in the way all other parts of your business need to be speedy and dependable, your shipping has to be in place too. Or else it won’t take long before your customers perceive your company negatively.

So how do you go about turning shipping into a positive for your startup business? Let’s find out...

#1 Pack it Up

Regardless of what you aim to ship, you will need the right kind of packing materials. You’ll find all the materials you need from your chosen office supply company - right from mailing envelopes to boxes to bubble wrap. However, it’s important that you find ways to save money here, no matter how little.

You need to focus on doing a lot of recycling and see to it that there are no unnecessary expenses. For example, all the old boxes you have can be cut down and used as “mailing flats”. And then you can use old boxes and mailers whenever possible. But don’t sacrifice quality just to get a cheaper price when ordering new boxes. If you’re ordering ten or a thousand printed shipping boxes you still need to choose the right company so that you get the best bang for your buck.

#2: Watch Your Bills

Most big shipping companies are very organized and most of the time you will get their best service. However, since these companies happen to deliver millions of packages, mistakes do happen time and again. This is why you need to take responsibility for your own shipping and watch your bills.

You need to carefully read all your shipping bills and look out for any mistakes that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. For example, it’s not uncommon to get charged shipping fees for a particular day when there weren’t any pickups, or maybe you wanted a package to be delivered overnight and it got delayed, while you were still being charged extra. Analyzing your bills and fighting them can and will help you save in the long run.

#3: Think About Outsourcing

Every startup founder knows that exciting feeling of “serving the customers” by shipping each package themselves. After all, this is your business and you don’t want to be out of the loop. However, like any good business, your volume will grow with time and this is when you might feel the need to leverage third party services for your shipping needs. The fact is that shipping orders can prove to be tedious, even if you’re facing small order volumes - the sooner you understand that, the better.

Fortunately, there are companies out there that will not only store your inventory but will also take your orders and pack/ship them. Although the cost differs from product to product (and the number orders you get), it comes down as a “nominal fee” for each of the items you sell, which you can easily pass on to your customers as shipping & handling charges.