Guide to Creating the Perfect Shipping Process for Your Business

Shipping Process

By  Sidney Karanja

In a world in which you can order a product and have it arrive to your door in a matter of days, customers have high expectations for a business’s shipping processes. They want to order an item and get the shipping confirmation email as soon as possible, knowing that their product is on the way.

If a customer has to wait too long for a shipping notification email, or worse, the product arrives damaged or gets lost, it could cost you a customer forever.

As a business owner, you understand how much the fulfillment and shipping process impacts future purchases, customer loyalty, and brand reputation. The quicker you can make the order processing and shipping process, the happier they’ll be with their experience.

Creating a shipping process is no small feat, but you can organize your processes to ensure fewer delays and faster fulfillment to give your customers the service they want.

Make It About the Customer

Shipping and fulfillment are major factors in the overall customer experience and impression of your brand. Shipping quickly is great, but not if it takes weeks between the purchase and the day it ships. And processing the order quickly doesn’t do much if the product is delayed, lost, or damaged during shipping.

You need to optimize both the shipping and fulfillment processes to ensure the best possible experience.

Order Placement

When a customer places an order on your website, the fulfillment process starts. You must check if the product is in stock and begin the processing, which means buying the product yourself to ship, finding it in current inventory, or sending the product to a fulfillment center for processing and shipping from a third-party logistics provider.

Order Processing

Order processing can be time-consuming and includes verifying all the pertinent information for the order, such as the payment verification and shipping address verification. Doing this manually takes a lot of time, but with the help of order management software, you can create, receive, and manage all of your orders in one single area and enhance your sales. Automation, in addition to being speedier, also decreases human mistakes, which can have an influence on the shipping and fulfillment operations.

Automation can be set up to send notifications and updates to your customer, so they can feel confident in knowing that their product is on the way. Automated batch processing brings efficiencies to your organization.

Order Shipment

After processing, the product is ready to ship to your customer. Many businesses offer the most cost-effective shipping method possible for the customer’s address, but you can give the customer the option for economy, standard, or express shipping options at their expense.

You can choose to dropship or ship the product yourself. Some businesses outsource to a third-party logistics partner to save time and money. Many third-party logistics partners offer a range of different features, including warehousing, packaging, and shipping to make the process even more streamlined.

Each option has pros and cons. Dropshipping gives you minimal control over the process, so you could end up with incorrect shipments, damage, or delays that reflect poorly on your brand.

Self-fulfillment is great for making sure that everything is in order, but it’s time-consuming. As a small ecommerce company, you can manage, but scaling will be nearly impossible. You could hire a team, but then that’s more expense and a long hiring process to get the right people in place.

Third-party logistics providers can solve both of these problems. The fulfillment and air freight shipping process is streamlined and reduces the burden on you, so you can focus on your business. It’s important to choose the right partner, however, and make sure they reflect the brand values you worked so hard to build.

Goals for the Shipping Process

The ideal shipping process should deliver a product to the customer as quickly as possible. Remember, many customers are used to one- or two-day shipping from most major retailers, sometimes for free, and have high expectations for rapid shipping.

Speed isn’t the only factor. Customers also want the right product delivered safely. Even the fastest shipping will leave a bad impression if the product is delivered to the wrong address or damaged. Of course, mistakes will happen, but an effective process keeps them to the minimum.

How to Create a Shipping Process

Choose Your Software Stack

You have plenty to choose from for shipping software. Some popular options include Shipstation, Shippo, and Aftership, all of which have perks and downsides. Review all your options and choose the best one for your business.

Plan the Verification Process

The verification process is part of order processing and can take a lot of time. Verifying all the information for the order is tedious, but getting it right is what ensures the product is delivered to the right address. Ecommerce management solutions often have this built in, but you can also do it manually. Some solutions even include address verification to make sure the address is accurate and standardized, reducing user error.

Purchase Shipping Supplies

For self-fulfillment, you need to have a stock of shipping and packaging supplies to get the order ready to go quickly. Some products can ship in their own packaging, such as electronics, but you may need packing supplies for other products or to ship multiple products in one order.

Some products require specific labeling for shipping, such as flammable products. Make sure you have plenty of these labels on hand for applicable orders.

If you choose to include free gifts or thank you cards, it’s a nice touch for the customer. While it can’t fix an inefficient process and bad experience, a thank you note can add final polish to a positive experience.

Create the Perfect Shipping Process

Fulfillment and shipping can be time-consuming and riddled with errors that can negatively influence the customer. Streamline your shipping process to give the customer a great impression and save yourself time to focus on your business. 

About the Author

Sidney Karanja is the founder of Savo Store, a logistics and procurement services provider that works with corporations, start-ups, and non-profits, to help them acquire and transport goods to their offices in Africa. Savo Store also operates a platform that allows individuals in Africa to shop hassle free at any U.S. retailer. Sidney founded Savo Store with the goal of eliminating some of the hurdles that plague cross-border transactions between Africa and the rest of the world.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.