6 efficient tips for optimizing the shipping process
Shipping plays a key role in today’s supply chain. It connects businesses and customers on the global market and that naturally brings its challenges to the process. When complications occur during shipping, it can lead to increased costs, delays, and deterioration of customer relations. How can logistics and transportation companies optimize the shipping process and avoid unnecessary complications? By implementing the following tips; you can cut costs, reduce transit times, and deliver an exceptional customer experience.
1. Assess the current shipping methods
Before you start implementing new methods, you should first review the ones you’re currently using during your shipping process. Even though the process in general is not optimal, some parts of it could be effected. Review your whole shipping workflow and identify its inefficient pain points. Analyze if those pain points cause higher shipping costs or longer transit times and replace those with more effective and accurate ones. There are some common pain points that are often encountered in shipping processes:
- Manual data entry and paperwork: If you are relying on manual processes, you should know that it increases the risk of errors and slows down the shipping process. Consider utilizing barcode scanning technology to capture product information, update inventory levels, and generate shipping labels automatically.
- Lack of real-time visibility: Limited visibility into the status of shipments, tracking information, or inventory levels can lead to delays, customer inquiries, and difficulty in resolving issues. Invest in an order management system that will automate order processing, inventory management, and shipping documentation generation.
- Inefficient packaging and handling: Inadequate packaging or improper handling can result in damaged goods during transit and it will cost you money for returns or replacements. The key to eliminate those costs is to standardize packaging procedures and consider an investment in quality packaging materials.
It’s also important to ask those involved in the process. Seek feedback from employees that contribute to the shipping and listen to their proposals. They know the process well as they work it every day, and warehouse workers or shipping specialists might have some effective propositions up their sleeves.
2. Optimize delivery routes
This might be a tip that saves you the most money and time in the long run. Delivering shipments to the final customer is only a fragment of all the delivery routes a cargo item goes through during the process. Therefore, analyze historical shipping data and identify frequent shipping destinations such as warehouses, location of suppliers, etc. You can optimize those delivery routes by using optimization software that considers all variables during the process.
Another way of optimizing the delivery routes is minimizing their number. If you consolidate shipments and plan your shipments efficiently whenever possible, you can reduce the number of divided deliveries and cut transportation costs.
3. Automate tasks associated with shipping
Automation is the future of all industries, logistics included. New technologies objectively almost always mean saving costs and easing the daily tasks employees must do. And today, a great deal of automated software and technology, that positively affects supply chain management, already exists. By implementing shipping software that can be integrated with your order management system, you can achieve more efficient cargo shipping. To automate and manage warehouse operations, including inventory management and order fulfillment, you can implement a warehouse management system.
Your company can also benefit from other systems that can do tasks your workers would otherwise have to do manually. We are talking about software that could automate the generating of labels and their tracking for reducing manual errors or systems handling inventory management and order fulfillment. Some of the most commonly used softwares are ShipStation, ShipWorks, EasyShip, and Shippo.
4. Optimize packaging
When it comes to packaging optimization, there are a few methods that could help you reduce its costs and time duration. One very effective solution is packing the shipment in packages with the right dimensions. When choosing the right sizes of packages, you avoid wasting space and reducing the transportation cost of shipping containers.
After you implement the right-size packaging solution, you can also search for sustainable material options. By using eco-friendly packaging materials like recycled paper, biodegradable plastics, air cushions, or reusable packaging, your company reduces its environmental impact and saves money in the long term. Implementing green solutions also helps your brand as customers tend to prefer companies that are more environmentally cautious.
5. Manage customer communication and expectations
The shipping process can make or break the customer relationship. If you don’t maintain a positive relationship with your customers, you won’t have anybody to ship to, it’s as simple as that. To improve it, you must focus on better communication and customer experience. Here are some tips on how to succeed in it:
- Provide real-time tracking information for shipments.
- Set realistic delivery expectations.
- Proactively communicate with customers in case of any inconveniences.
- Offer multiple communication channels (such as email, SMS, or online tracking).
6. Digitalize the necessary documentation
If the shipment is missing any necessary documentation, it will automatically be delayed. You can prevent that by digitalization of as many documents in the shipping process as you can. If you already implemented some of the previous tips, such as automation and use of advanced software, you might already be on the track to digitalization.
Almost all advanced software offers documentation management. For example, in our load planning software EasyCargo, you can manage your load plans online and share them with your colleagues without any necessary paperwork. Therefore, you again save both your money and time, but also reduce the risk of your shipment being delayed.