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How to deal with delivery as a small business owner

David Grimes, CEO of My Parcel Delivery

Delivery can often be a time-consuming and stressful process to manage. There are so many elements that you need to consider when shipping products. How quickly does the customer expect their item to arrive? Where is it travelling to? How should it be packaged up? How much will it cost to get there?

As a small business owner with limited time and resources, these questions can leave you scratching your head about how you’re going to meet the delivery challenge. When I started selling online years ago, this was one of my biggest concerns.

But it’s not an aspect of business you can choose to ignore. Getting it right is so important for your customers and it’s often a deciding factor in whether they’ll shop with you again.

So, what should smaller businesses be doing to ensure parcel delivery is something they excel in?

  1. Make preparations

Getting orders out the door speedily starts with good preparation. Many business owners make the same mistake; not taking the necessary care and attention in packaging up their products.

It’s crucial that a purchase reaches the customer in perfect condition. So, think about the materials you’re using. Invest in the right boxes, tape and bubble wrap to keep items safe and secure inside their packaging. Better to double-up with that tape and wrap too – the last thing you want is for the product to arrive battered and bruised.

  1. Explore every possible avenue

They say that ‘variety is the spice of life’ for good reason – don’t feel like you have to use the same delivery service or courier for every order. Compare prices and take advantage of the different shipping methods on offer. For example, if time is limited, you might find it more convenient for a courier to come and collect packages from your place of work or home.

Find out what would work best for you and your schedule. There are definitely more efficient ways of posting than constantly trekking to the Post Office and standing around in long queues.

  1. Let someone else do the leg work

When going directly to large couriers such as UPS and Parcelforce, business accounts are only a viable option if you’re sending around a thousand parcels per month. If you’ve not reached those levels of sales yet, the way forward may be to set up a business account with a parcel comparison website instead. They negotiate special deals with couriers to get smaller businesses better rates than a standard customer. You might even find that there are some handy extras included when signing-up to one of these business accounts, such as a preferred customer service desk and exclusive business courier options.

  1. Avoid choppy waters

If you’re selling online, your customer base won’t necessarily be restricted to the UK, so products may need to travel overseas too. Sending items to a different country comes with its own set of postage rules – some of which differ from those we have here in the UK. Keep an eye on tax or import duties in particular; these hidden charges can quickly creep up on you and your customers if not checked properly. And make sure that the product you are sending is actually allowed to enter the country in the first place, as there are certain prohibitions and restrictions. Getting up to speed on international shipping regulations will save any awkward customer conversations further down the line.