By James Holt
Many companies view shipping the same way they might look at utilities or phone service: a necessary evil, a cost of doing business. In fact, shipping can be a strong competitive advantage, allowing retailers to provide better customer service, achieve greater profits, and even significantly expand their product offerings. The key is to find a good shipping partner, understand how the global economy affects your business, and take full advantage of the possibilities offered by a competent shipping company. You might be surprised to realize just how much a good shipping partner can do for you.
The most obvious place to start is to make sure that your physical packaging not only protects your products, but also protects your company. If you are shipping valuable or fragile products, it does not make sense to cut corners on packaging. Look for interior packaging options that are both cost-effective and will protect the merchandise. In contrast, if your products are lightweight and plastic, there are less expensive interior options that a knowledgeable shipping partner can help you identify and create.
But here is where it gets interesting: boxes and packing material are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maximizing your shipping. Seeking to save money, many businesses do not have anyone on staff with direct responsibility for working with shipping partners and carriers. The result is often additional expenses from increased rates, and a poor understanding of how changes in the shipping business affect rates. In fact, as the global economy continues to expand and new trade routes open up all the time, the business of shipping is a complex, ever-changing landscape. Uboxes (www.uboxes.com), for example, has national contracts with all major carriers and works closely with many affiliate partner companies, such as Box Brothers (boxbros.com), which has been helping customers for over 25 years and specializes in crating, packing, and shipping. These relationships allow us to provide end-to-end services that actually save money: we can provide the packaging materials and handle the shipping itself.
Finally, at the higher end of the service spectrum, shipping companies have even moved into inventory management and fulfillment. This makes sense considering that shipping companies have direct experience with global commerce—just like Amazon handles inventory and fulfillment for countless small businesses, it is a natural fit for a company’s like Uboxes to maintain warehouse space, stock products, and handle order fulfillment and shipping for retail customers.
Uboxes has 200,000 square feet of warehouse space in China that allows it to buy factory-direct product, warehouse it inexpensively, and ship directly to anywhere in the world. Stateside, we also maintain facilities in California and New Jersey. Economies of scale allows us to pass along significant savings to our retail customers on shipping, packaging, and fulfillment, while simultaneously allowing business owners to concentrate on the lifeblood of their business: sales and marketing. Imagine the savings possible if you cut out your importer or wholesaler, reduce your inventory costs, and significantly reduce the cost of order fulfillment, packaging, and shipping all at the same time.
While this solution might not be ideal for every business model, the idea is to expand your thinking about how your business fits into the global economy and look for ways to streamline the process of moving your products from factories overseas to your clients. Shipping plays an essential part of this, because it is the grease that keeps the global economy functioning smoothly. So, next time you are looking to place a new order for boxes, bubble, foam wrap, or packing tape, consider that it might be time to really sit down and look at how your company is handling its packaging, shipping, and order fulfillment, and see if you are leaving money on the table instead of on your bottom line.