International trade today has been made possible by efficient systems for shipping goods and services across the state, across the country, and across the world. While these systems are all working right now, there is always room for more efficiency. Here are five tips on how to make your systems for shipping more efficient and profitable for your business.
Tip 1: Identify and Research Your Sales Cycle
Sometimes it seems too difficult to picture shipping as just a part of the greater process of sales. We want to compartmentalize shipping as its own process to make things easier on our employees and even ourselves. This is a major flaw that many companies have.
The sales cycle is the cyclical ups and downs that we see in orders from customers throughout a season or a year. The actual cycle is dependent upon what is being sold and who the customers are, but your shipping department needs to be aware of it. When they are aware of when peaks occur they can be prepared to have more staff on hand, supplies in their inventory, and trucks and the docks. This increases efficiency and stops customers from becoming unhappy due to shipping delays.
Tip 2: Become a “Labeler”
Labeling everything seems like something you are only supposed to do if you are obsessive compulsive, but it definitely serves its purpose in your shipping area. Having your storage facility clearly labeled and marked can help your new employees find inventory quickly and your old employees knock out orders in mere minutes. Be sure to label rows of inventory on the racks with large, bold-faced lettering in the jargon of your shipping employees. It is also wise to paint lines on the floor of the warehouse if you have stackable or palletized products to help keep things in neat and orderly rows when new inventory is brought to the warehouse.
Tip 3: Standardize Your Packaging if Possible
Standardization is really what is making big business work today, and this is not without good reason. When things become standardized, they increase efficiency because one product is created and shipped exactly like every other one. This eliminates the propensity for employees to do things “their own way” and creates more efficiency in the shipping process. This also means that boxed products will become more “stackable” and will fit into trucks better, getting more product shipped with each trailer shipped. For example, Amazon.com has taken this shipping technique to heart. While they sell thousands of different products, they still place each of their products into standardized Amazon packages for shipping to help save space as well as to protect the product.
Tip 4: Update Your Shipping Software
The bane of every shipping manager’s existence is new software for their shipping systems. However, there are several forms of software out there these days that can dramatically increase the efficiency and ease of operation for shipping managers and employees. These new systems can be used simultaneously with scanners on fork trucks, as well as be programmed to work with ERP and ERM systems in place at your business in order to create one cohesive and synchronized program. These new software programs can also help you to find where you might run into issues with more product being ordered than what is available and other shipping problems that older programs would not be able to find.
Tip 5: It Is All About “Location, Location, Location”
The placement of your shipping department is just as important to your success as how you do your shipping and who you use as a carrier. If your shipping department is spread throughout a plant, you could experience communication problems between employees, shipments being sent to incorrect docs, and truckers unknowingly backing into incorrect loading zones. All of these are time wasters and efficiency killers. The best way to set up your shipping department is in one central location. All shipping questions, truckers, and shipping employees should report here and treat this as their home base. This will help to alleviate the previously mentioned inefficiencies.
Robert Cordray is a freelance writer for Income.com and expert in business and finances. With over 20 years of business experience, Robert is now retired and hopes others can benefit from his writing.