These logistics tricks can make shipping easier, enhance customer service and improve cash flow.
Small businesses are economic chameleons – adaptable, smart and always changing. So when it comes to managing resources, doing more with less is a core value – and one supported by smart logistics.
Small businesses are economic chameleons – adaptable, smart and always changing.
Tom Langa, a UPS small business marketing manager, discusses three key areas where small businesses need to optimize efficiency (shipping, tracking and cash flow) and the UPS solutions that will help.
1. Choose a shipping system.
All businesses need to make shipments. "For some, this is a crucial operational component," Langa says. "Using a shipping system that suits your needs can improve your overall efficiency."
Which one is right for you depends on the number of packages you ship:
• Fewer than 25 packages per week: Try UPS Internet Shipping, an entry-level solution. "It's efficient, with templates and address books that streamline the process of inputting data and creating shipments," Langa says. "Also, you can access our tracking technology to stay on top of inbound and outbound shipments."
You can print shipping labels, schedule pickups, pay for shipping online and create a bill of lading for freight shipments quickly and easily when logged in to your My UPS® account.
• More than 25 packages and/or complex shipments: Use WorldShip®. The online retail boom has seen an explosion of small businesses, often armed with little more than a laptop and a garage full of merchandise. More sales means more shipping. WorldShip provides shipping efficiency through numerous shortcuts and integration (like automatically pulling shipping data from customer orders).
WorldShip also simplifies complex logistics tasks, such as freight and international shipments. "WorldShip is a user-friendly system that quickly navigates you through what can be a laborious process like international shipping," Langa says. "And with more small businesses finding customers across the globe, WorldShip can be a real ally for your growth."
"You can even integrate WorldShip with your inventory and accounting software, thereby keeping the overall business up-to-date and easier to manage," Langa says.
2. Take advantage of tracking.
When customers know the status of a shipment, they're far less likely to call your staff for an update, allowing you to focus on business priorities.
From a customer service perspective, Langa recommends using Quantum View Notify®. Whether you use ups.com or WorldShip as your shipping platform, UPS will send out automatic e-mail notifications to your customers of key events in the shipping process. "Something like this is great for online retailers," Langa says. "If you can greatly reduce the time consumed by customer calls it frees you up to manage other duties."
• More than 25 packages per week: Quantum View Manage® supports both the inbound and outbound sides of your business process. "Many small businesses have part-time workforces," Langa says. "If you need staff to handle an incoming shipment, you can schedule those employees based around that inbound visibility."
These tools are free and available to customers with a UPS account. To gain access, contact your UPS sales representative. If you don't have a UPS sales representative, fill in this form and you will be contacted directly.
• When on the go: Mobile technology means you can be wherever needed and still take care of business, including logistics. The UPS Mobile™ app is useful for anyone regardless of shipping volume. You can also use it to create and manage shipments, track packages or find nearby UPS locations.
3. Simplify billing.
For small businesses, cash flow management is an important part of profitability. And with UPS Billing Center, you can download invoices, allocate shipping costs by customer, and pay your shipping invoices online – all from one location.
"The UPS Billing Center takes care of two areas related to cash flow," Langa says. "It neatly organizes your shipping-related costs, so you know what needs to get paid, and that up-to-date information allows you to bill customers faster, so you get paid faster."
You can import billing data straight into your accounting system program. This cuts out the hassle of saving the same information in another place and transferring it over.