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6 Important Shipping Decisions

Posted Thursday, April 2, 2015 by Jules VanSant.


No matter where you are in your shipping career, certain decisions can make or break your shipping operation. Here are 6 of the most important shipping-related choices to keep in mind.

1. Do you have the right box?
Why it’s an important decision: You can make real contributions to your company’s bottom line (and look like a hero) by reducing damage rates and shipping costs when you start with the right box.

Tips: Think about what you are selling, advises Quint Marini, UPS package engineering manager. “The sturdier the product, the less packaging will be needed,” he says. Size matters; smaller packages jostle around more as they travel to the consumer. “Your packaging has to be robust.” Use a box that’s new or nearly so, with no tears, rips or corner damage. A single crease reduces box strength up to 70 percent.

2. Is it time to “go green” with your packaging?
Why it matters: Sometimes “green” means not just more sustainable but less money, too. For example, UPS customer Underwater Audio was able to reduce packaging costs by an average of $6.50 per shipped unit after implementing a sustainable packaging program.Tip: Stock up on recycled bubble pack, peanuts or other packing materials. Using a box that’s too big wastes packing materials as well as space on the trucks or airplanes that deliver your goods.

3. Do you have the right shipping software?Why it’s an important decision: Shortcuts and integration – such as pulling address data from customer orders – streamline shipping. Being able to integrate shipping with your inventory and accounting software can save you loads of money and time, and reduce errors.Tips: UPS Internet Shipping is best for low-volume or occasional shippers (fewer than 25 packages per week). For companies with multiple locations and multiple shippers, UPS CampusShip® might work best. It allows you to log in from anywhere but with centralized controls and billing. If you expect to ship more than 25 packages a week, or have more complex needs, upgrade to WorldShip®. WorldShip is best for high-volume shipping operations.

4. Should you integrate shipping with your website?
Why it’s an important decision: The payoff from end-to-end integration can be dramatic. Martin Guitar integrated its computer data with WorldShip and saved 40 hours a month, says Kathy Hartzell, logistics manager. Results were similar at ProMarine USA, a marine engine-parts supplier that integrated its website with WorldShip and ProMarine’s invoice and inventory systems. “Now we can pick and pack a shipment in 10 minutes,” says Tony December, general manager.

Tip: UPS Developer Kit APIs can be integrated into your website’s shopping cart with APIs (application programming interfaces) for shipping, tracking and even address validation. The APIs are free, but require tech support to install.

5. Should you drop ship?
Why it matters: When suppliers ship directly to customers, you save time and money. The key is to ensure top-notch customer service, as measured by WISMO (where is my order?) calls.Tip: “UPS makes it simple,” says Katy Kiyo of Big Hug, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She requires her 30-odd suppliers to ship via UPS, and she uses tracking technology to keep customers up to date. “We don’t get WISMO calls,” she says.

6. Can you get closer to the customer?
Why it’s an important decision: Arranging for warehousing and distribution closer to your buyers saves shipping costs and speeds transit times. So customers get goods faster, which they expect.

Tips: “Large retail chains are now turning local retail locations into virtual distribution centers,” Ganesh says. “But that requires space, trained staff and solid inventory management.” A better alternative for some could be outsourcing distribution and fulfillment to UPS, especially since UPS Contract Logistics allows you to scale up or down as needed without making a heavy capital investment or hiring and training your own staff.