If you’re running a small online business in the UK, and you’re shipping out packages to new customers every week, then you’ll want to be aware of the cost of postage. If you’re running a business from home, then the chances are the cost of getting your items from one place to another will represent the most significant chunk of your total outgoings. Getting these costs under control, then, is crucial.
An important part of this control is the minimisation of failed deliveries. Failed deliveries come in three different varieties:
- The item might get lost in the post, and never arrive at its destination at all.
- The item might get to where it’s supposed to be, but become damaged along the way.
- The item might arrive late, much to the chagrin of your customer.
Postal problems of this sort can have a significant impact on your business and the way that it operates. For one thing, it’ll present direct costs, as you’ll need to ship out a replacement item. In some instances, you might want to offer the affected customer a free gift in order to keep them sweet – after all, it’s easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a replacement.
The reputational damage suffered as a result of failed delivery can be the death of many small businesses. After all, part of what makes online shopping so popular is that customers can be reasonably sure of their goods arriving in an orderly fashion. Without this assurance, customers will take their business elsewhere – either into the real world, or (more likely) to larger retailers like Amazon.
How can I reduce the likelihood of a failed delivery?
Prevention, as they say, is better than cure. And so it proves with postage – every option to reduce the likelihood of a failed delivery should be explored.
One thing that’s sure to cause a portion of your post to go awry is poor addressing information. If you’re scratching every address onto the envelope by hand, using a marker pen, then the chances are that a given portion of them will be misread, even if your handwriting is exemplarity. Investing in a proper label printer and you needn’t worry about this again – it can simply sit on your desk and print out the right label in a matter of mere moments.
But recording the address on the physical package is surely pointless if the address you have to hand isn’t accurate. That’s why it’s worth providing your customers with a fool proof means of inputting their address information. Here’s where address management and a decent post code search tool can be invaluable. The former will ensure that all of the addresses you have on file are current and up to date; the latter works by offering the user a list of potential addresses after they’ve entered their postcode. This will help to eliminate costly errors, and thus will protect you from the direct and indirect costs of failed delivery.
It’s also worth paying attention to the way that your items are packaged. While it’s important to control the size and weight of everything you ship, it’s also important to package everything securely. This is especially the case for fragile items like vases and high-end electronics. Get everything nicely padded with the help of polystyrene and bubble wrap, and chuck in packet of silica gel to protect moisture-sensitive items. This wisdom is particularly sound if you’re shipping across borders, and though tropical climates.
What if my delivery does fail?
However many precautions you take, the chances are overwhelming that a given proportion of your items will fail to make it. What’s vital is that you’re able to take corrective action immediately. Issue the affected customer with a swift apology, and cover the cost of the new delivery. This will help to limit any reputational damage you suffer.
After you’ve done this, you’ll be able to seek compensation from the courier. Recall that the sending party is the one with the relationship with the courier, not the receiving party – though it might help a claim if you’re able to secure the co-operation of the receiving party, too.
In order to receive compensation, you’ll need to present proof that the item was delivered. For this reason, keeping your receipt after shipping is crucial – file it somewhere well-organised and secure. If the item is damaged, you’ll need to present that as proof, too. For this reason, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for a customer to send their items back.