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Small Business Digest


5 Holiday Shipping Tips to Improve Efficiency

Increasingly, smart shipping policies and handling are impacting the profitability of any holiday marketing, sales effort.

Because they are competing with large, big box merchants, many small businesses need to have an effective shipping program that both delivers goods when promised but are also cost-efficient.

Jason Hodges is Co-founder and CTO of ShipStation, a cloud-based shipping solution for multi-channel eCommerce merchants  argues “making a few changes now can pay dividends during this peak sales season. By being proactive before the season it is possible to meet marketplace shipping requirements, ensuring that packages arrive on time, and maybe adding a few extra hours of free time each day.

Use a consolidated shipping solution: Since many companies are now selling on multiple channels, consider using a software solution that will consolidate all of orders into one place and automate the communication between those channels.  There’s no need to log into each selling account to process orders and copy/paste tracking information.  With a single click, a small business can create a shipping label with packing slip, email the tracking information to the buyer, and communicate tracking information to the sales channel.  This is a great way to ensure that the company meets any marketplace shipping requirements without any extra work.

Take advantage of the USPS SCAN form: If shipping with the US Postal Service, consider printing a SCAN form at the end of each day.  The USPS SCAN form (Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice) consolidates all shipments for the day into a single barcode.  USPS employees then scan this barcode instead of each individual package.   This allows the tracking information for all packages to be recorded in the USPS tracking system, providing buyers with confirmation that their package has entered the mailstream.   This can really help to reduce the “Did my package ship?” question from buyers.

Process orders in batches instead of one at a time: If employees are creating a single shipping label at a time, their likely fulfilling 30 to 60 orders per hour.  If they use software that can print labels in batch, they can double or triple efficiency!  Some sellers are concerned that batch shipping will increase the chance for human errors, but this can be minimized with a few safeguards.  Many shipping solutions can print identifying information such as the order number or product SKU(s) on each shipping label.  Employees can also print a shipping label on half of a page and a packing slip on the other half so that they can easily match labels with inventory.

Use a thermal label printer: If the company is printing labels on a laser printer, consider switching to a thermal printer such as the Zebra ZP 450 or DYMO LabelWriter 4XL.  These printers can speed up label generation and they don’t use ink!  UPS leases the Zebra ZP 450 thermal printer for only $2 per week and they provide thermal labels for free.  If the company is not ready to move away from laser printers, make sure employees are printing on label sticker sheets instead of plain paper.  They can waste a considerable amount of time by cutting and taping labels.

Pay attention to shipping carrier deadlines: Shipping deadlines vary for each carrier and service, so keep a list handy to ensure that the company doesn’t ruin little Joey’s Christmas.  The carriers have yet to release their deadlines.

Jason Hodges is Co-founder and CTO of  ShipStation, a cloud-based shipping solution for multi-channel eCommerce merchants.

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