If you’re a small business – particularly one who offers their real-world products online – then postage will represent a significant part of your running costs. Any way that these costs can be minimised, then, is sure to be a welcome development.
Let’s examine some of the ways in which you might get the best out of your postage – and ensure that your products arrive at their destinations as quickly as possible – and with the minimum amount of fuss.
Keep things transparent
There are few annoyances likely to make your customers click that ‘x’ button than a sudden price hike when they arrive at their shopping basket – particularly one that they weren’t expecting. It comes across as dishonest and, well, sneaky. Not only will this cause them to abandon their shopping cart – they might well decide that the name of your business will henceforth be mud, and never return. If you’re looking to grow your business, you should be looking to foster loyalty – and being upfront with them about costs is a good way to do that.
Offer customers choices
Of course, one way to avoid any potential misunderstandings is to offer free delivery on all of your items. This might mean taking on a greater expense, naturally – but you might get around this by opting for a cheaper delivery method.
But many customers will be happy to pay a little bit extra for their postage, since they want to get their products quickly. If you’re such a person, you’re likely to be frustrated by slow postage, even if it’s free. It therefore makes sense to offer your customers a broad range of options rather than tethering them to a slower, less efficient package.
Careful with freebies
While free postage is one thing, offering your customers free returns is quite another. You’ll want to carefully consider the product you’re selling – and how often it’s being returned – before you make your customers such an offer. If you decide to pull the plug on them later, you might be met by a considerable backlash. If you’re selling premium, high-quality items then free returns might make sense – but if the postal cost far exceeds the value of the item, this is likely to be less so.
Cut down on weight
The larger and heavier your item, the more it’ll cost to send. This means that any packaging above and beyond the dimensions of the item itself can be considered waste. For efficiency reasons too complicated to delve into, larger firms like Amazon might prefer to ship some of their items in enormous boxes – but that doesn’t mean that you should.
Make sure fragile items are securely packaged
Of course, there’s a balance to be struck between economical packaging and secure packaging. You’ll want to give your items a level of cushioning, as they’re likely to suffer a few knocks and scrapes while they’re in transit. After all, you aren’t going to have any control over how the package is handled after you hand it over. Bubble wrap and polystyrene are incredibly useful tools – and it’s worth using them to their fullest.
Hire a Franking Machine
If you don’t already have access to a franking machine, then investing in one is more than worthwhile – especially if you’re spending more than a few hundred pounds on postage a month. A franking machine can save around 12p on a first class letter, and even more on second class one. Franking machines are topped up online, saving you the trouble of actually going out and buying stamps, and they afford you a greater degree of control over the entire postal process.
In order to keep your costs to a minimum, you’ll want to focus on the packages that never make it to their destination – and how you might keep that proportion as low as possible. One of the most common reasons for postal error is an address that’s miswritten, illegible or plain incorrect. Anything we can do to lessen this possibility is therefore welcome. Be sure to have your addresses printed rather than handwritten, and use a postcode finder to ensure that you’ve got the right address. You’ll also want to offer your customers a postcode finder service at the checkout – that way they’ll be able to choose an address from a list rather than typing it in themselves. The possibility of an error will thereby be enormously reduced, and your parcels will stand a much greater chance of getting to their destination intact.