In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown’s impact on businesses, e-commerce became the saving grace that helped small businesses not just survive but even thrive. Now, many of the changes created or furthered by the pandemic have continued as we’ve collectively adapted to that idea of “a new normal.”
The pandemic provided a warning of what can happen to a business and showed the need to adapt. Since the pandemic, 67 percent of Canadian small businesses are accepting online payments now, with 47 percent beginning this practice since COVID was designated as a global pandemic. When small businesses turn to e-commerce methods, small business packaging and shipping become integral to operations.
In this strange new world continually reshaped by changes to legacy carriers, labor shortages, and technological innovations, it’s an excellent time to go back to shipping basics to determine the best packaging, carriers, and modes. Shippers need to get up-to-date on the latest strategies and techniques for parcel shipping, including choosing the best carriers and using a tech-enabled parcel management software system.
Parcel shipping is the term for the shipping of relatively small packages weighing up to 100 pounds. The packages are small and light enough that a person can generally pick them up and move them without assistance. Small business packaging and shipping often fall under parcel shipping.
Parcel shipping often works well for small businesses that ship a number of small packages rather than needing to ship freight. Numerous carriers work with parcels. The main legacy ones are USPS, UPS, and FedEx, although there are other options. It can be challenging to compare and choose a carrier for parcel shipping, so this guide is designed to help.
Shippers need to consider a few basic metrics before deciding which carrier is suitable for them. These are the top metrics to explore:
The leading parcel shipping carriers are USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Which one is best when shipping for small businesses? Really, it comes down to which is best for each small business or even for the needs of each shipment. This part of the guide can help small businesses compare the three main parcel carriers to gain a clearer idea of the pros and cons of each.
FedEx can be a good choice for small businesses looking for expert tracking and large, express shipments.
UPS may be a wise choice for excellent package tracking, quick shipments, and sending heavy items.
USPS tends to be best for sending small or lightweight packages, for cost savings, and free package pickup.
In addition to considering how these pros and cons impact a business’s needs, shippers can look into the specific services and business discounts each carrier offers. Once they know their needs, small businesses can directly compare similar services between carriers. For instance, they can compare pricing, timeframes, and locations covered for ground shipping. In addition, they can check additional value-added services offered by each carrier to see if they may make a difference.
For small businesses that may not have enough dedicated resources or employees to put toward shipping, parcel shipping can become complex and even unmanageable. This is especially true when the company begins to scale or during temporary boosts in sales.
Common challenges associated with shipping for small businesses include:
Technology is one of the tools small businesses can use to improve their parcel shipping processes. It can help shippers manage the challenges they face in their operations, with carriers, and in dealing with a post-COVID world. In particular, parcel management software offers benefits like these:
Parcel shipping is a good option for small businesses that ship small, lightweight packages. There are numerous considerations when determining the best ways to ship parcels and the best carrier for the job. In many cases, using more than one carrier within a more extensive carrier network is best. Following the advice in this guide can make the decision process easier. Also, parcel management software can facilitate these decisions through improved visibility, carrier comparisons, communication, and more.
Intelligent Audit offers a range of solutions that can help small businesses with their parcel shipping, including:
Get started with Intelligent Audit today to improve your small business’s parcel shipping processes.
Set up a call with one of our experts to discuss how Intelligent Audit can help your business uncover opportunities for cost reduction and supply chain improvements through automated freight audit and recovery, business intelligence and analytics, contract optimization, and more.