Now is the time to get your company ready.
For many small business owners, the last few months of the year push them into the black. Being organized and prepared early for seasonal demands can help your business avoid unnecessary stress, including shipping.
"Be it local or anywhere in the world, we always have our eyes on [your shipment]." – UPS's Mark Boyles
Here are five tips to identify and address some of your most complicated shipping challenges.
1. Track everything: For business owners, few things are more headache-inspiring than customer calls about the delivery status of a package. When you ship with UPS, request that a ship notification e-mail be sent to your recipient. At no extra cost, a Quantum View Notify® message will provide your customer with the UPS tracking number and the expected arrival date. In addition, Quantum View Manage® lets you create specialized tracking reports that monitor packages every step along the way. "Every time a package changes hands in our system, it gets a scan and an update is made," explains Mark Boyles, a UPS retail expert. "Be it local or anywhere in the world, we always have our eyes on that shipment."
2. Expect returns: In the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study, customers voiced an increasing frustration with the return options presented to them by retailers. In addition, the Recovering Lost Profits by Improving Reverse Logistics study revealed that companies that offer more return options increased their total yearly revenue by up to 5 percent of total sales. What does it all mean? Easy, swift returns are essential to keeping customers satisfied and maintaining the longevity of your small business.
3. Consider the shape of objects: Shipping a snow globe or framed artwork is different than shipping something simpler, such as a sweater. The more unique the item, the more complicated the packing and shipping options can be. Enter UPS Package Solutions. The team designs, develops and tests packaging that works best for each product. "To move any product, through any environment, with any mode of transportation," says Quint Marini, who oversees the department in Addison, Ill. "That's our goal."
4. Watch your inventory: When inventory moves in and out of your warehouse quickly, it's important to keep track of what sales you can fulfill and which you can't. The UPS Ready® Program offers a vetted list of inventory management providers that integrate UPS technology into their software systems to assist small and middle-market businesses. Also accessible is the UPS Customer Solutions team, whose members use a 10-part process to gather data and identify areas for improvement in the supply chain, optimization and the inventory. A variety of options exists, says Boyles, but when choosing a management system, "the main criteria is that they work well with your other systems."
5. Actively manage the process: Tending to administrative tasks like billing, tracking, address validation, and paperwork at a small business means less time interacting with customers and working on product development. The UPS Developer Kit offers various programming tools to assist in many aspects of business management. The automated programming interfaces (APIs) can be integrated with a company's existing systems and assist with everything from locating packages in transit to better understanding international shipping regulations. All are available for download at ups.com. The APIs are free but require technological expertise to install and integrate with your site. Billing can be streamlined with the UPS Billing Center.
Thinking through your shipping options before the holidays can lead to a better experience for both you and your customers. "The surge starts well before Thanksgiving," says Boyles. "But UPS has a variety of technology tools to help our customers run a more efficient and productive operation, even when things get crazy."
Click here to find out how UPS helped one company solve its shipping challenge and reduce costs.