7 essential shipping tools for new entrepreneurs

Successful small business owners share how they have saved money through better time management.

As a business owner, you understand that good time management is crucial to increasing your profits. When it comes to shipping, finding reliable tools to help make your job easier is a must. Sunil Eamani, a UPS marketing manager, stresses that developing an efficient shipping method is essential to keeping you focused on your core business.

To help you avoid some common mistakes, we asked successful entrepreneurs to share some of their best tips. With their ideas plus advice from shipping experts, we have identified seven steps to help you achieve easy, cost-saving shipping operations.

1. Choose a shipping method that grows with you. From the beginning, you’ll need to create shipments, verify addresses, print shipping labels, and possibly even handle returns. Eventually, you may need additional capabilities such as cost allocation, access to negotiated rates, and integration with backend office systems.

UPS delivers all of these capabilities in its shipping systems, but you may find that one system is a better fit for your needs.

2. Make your website a full-service channel. Use the UPS Developer Kit to add shipping options, delivery costs, address validation, and tracking abilities to your website. “Customers expect this type of convenience,” Eamani says. “They want all the information at their fingertips for making purchases.”

Tony Leonardo, general manager at Southern Moulding/Signature Keepsakes, adds that you don’t need to have advanced computer skills or an in-house developer to add these tools to your site. “You don’t need to hire a consultant or an extra person–UPS can help you.”

3. Keep customers up-to-date on their orders. Use Quantum View Notify® to automatically send email and text message notifications to customers and keep them informed of shipment status. You can set up this free tracking service in just a few simple steps, and we’ll send alerts to your customers when orders are shipped, expected to arrive, delivered, or delayed. This added information not only helps improve your customer relations, it also helps you save time by not having to respond directly to shipping inquiries.

“Using this automation to keep customers informed is incredibly advantageous,” says Leonardo. “We should have started using it right from the start.”

4. Stay informed of your shipments with advanced technology. For a more flexible supply chain, rely on Quantum View Manage®, our free technology that tracks inbound and outbound packages, as well as third-party and freight shipments.

“And it scales as you grow,” Eamani says. “Whether you’re managing four packages a week or 4,000, this one tool helps you manage shipments with ease.”

5. Package your products efficiently and effectively. Test the effectiveness of your packaging before you even begin shipping products. Quint Marini, UPS Package Design and Test Lab manager, advises that this step will allow you to reduce the risk of damaging your packages, improve customer relations, and help reduce waste.

Companies such as Advantage Graphics & Signs echo this advice. “We had to learn how to package our products so they don’t get damaged, and we had to learn about package sizes and what benefits our customers cost-wise,” says Kelly Spurgeon, the company’s founder.

6. Stay on top of costs with electronic billing. You’ll gain more control over your paperwork by using the electronic billing option at the UPS Billing Center.

Leonardo says this is a great way to ensure that his charges are in line with the actual costs, and it also helps him reduce costs associated with incorrect addresses and oversize packaging. “As a small business, we always want to know how we can fine-tune our system,” Leonardo says.

7. Go global from the beginning.
Small companies are quickly learning that their size is not a barrier to international commerce.

“All kinds of entrepreneurs find that they have to have markets outside the U.S., or they have opportunities they’re exploring outside the U.S.,” Eamani says.  By providing trade resources and international shipping tools that help smooth customs clearance, we can assist you in doing business overseas.