Well, it’s that time of year again. As your overly keen neighbours start untangling the Christmas lights, that means peak freight season is fast approaching.
According to Australia Post, 52 million parcels were delivered in December 2021 alone – its busiest month in history. With countless other carriers in operation, it’s hard to fathom the sheer volume of freight being ferried around at any given time.
What’s clear is just how much eCommerce has come to dominate the retail sector, along with the growing reliance on freight efficiency. So, let’s unpack our simple tips to optimise freight for eCommerce businesses.
- The Importance of Freight Optimisation
- Optimise Packaging for Efficiency
- Tracking & Analytics
- Customer Expectation is Everything
- How to Choose the Right Freight Service
1. The Importance of Freight Optimisation
For growing businesses, it’s an ongoing challenge to deal with the peaks and troughs of order volume. Even without the Christmas rush, or seasonal fluctuations, customer demand can change on a whim. As a business owner, should you over-index on staff in anticipation of growing demand, or – as is often the case – do you just keep playing catch-up, stretching your resources to their limit whenever things get busy? Neither option is sustainable for long.
Freight optimisation goes a long way towards streamlining your operations and making your business better equipped to handle increasing customer demand.
2. Optimise Packaging for Efficiency
Packaging might seem like a low priority when you’re trying to keep a lot of plates spinning as a growing business, but it makes a big difference for freight efficiency. Improving accuracy while speeding up consignments will keep customers happy while also reducing your labour and shipping costs. So, how can you optimise packaging?
Automated label printing
Human error is a common cause of undelivered shipments. Automated freight management software that integrates seamlessly with your eCommerce platform will eliminate the need for manual input, significantly improving your fulfilment success percentage.
This is a way to streamline your inventory. Essentially, it means reducing the number of box or parcel sizes that you work with. While still ensuring you can securely ship goods of various sizes, you can simplify your decision-making during consignment, saving time and reducing costs.
As part of your rationalisation, it’s important to choose suitable packaging sizes for each order. If your products are relatively uniform in size, you should have a good idea of the optimal packaging sizes you use most. Snug packaging reduces the risk of damage by keeping items secure. It also reduces waste from unnecessary insulation or over-sized packaging, while reducing material costs.
3. Implement Real-time Tracking & Analytics
When you’re managing a growing number of orders, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Costs and admin quickly spiral out of control. Managing freight becomes infinitely easier if you can see where everything is – including delivery status, shipment location, reconciling invoices, and more.
Up-to-the-minute information enables you to meet the high expectations of customers around order tracking, delivering not only their orders, but an overall experience that will keep them coming back.
With a cloud-based delivery management system, you have a centralised system where you can see all the key data you need. The software pulls data from your transport carriers to allow visibility over key milestones in the dispatch process and final mile of delivery.
Want to learn more about MachShip’s delivery management software? See how it works.
4. Expectation Management is Everything
It can take months to win a customer, but just seconds to lose them. Customer loyalty is earned, not given. When it comes to online shopping, customers don’t really care about anything except receiving their orders promptly.
In an extremely crowded marketplace, it doesn’t take much to turn customers off. Whether it’s next-day delivery or 10 business days, people just want to receive their goods within the timeframe that’s been established. In the lead-up to Christmas, the stakes are infinitely higher, as people don’t want to let down their loved ones with gifts that haven’t arrived.
Without the draw of in-store bricks and mortar experiences to swing loyalty in your brand’s favour, if you want to retain customers, it’s all about seamless delivery. If anything, follow the old principle of ‘under-promise, over-deliver’. Naturally, disruptions can occur. So, build in some buffer time to your expected delivery timelines. And, if there are delays, keep customers in the loop with prompt, transparent communication to manage their expectations, provide brief context, and provide an updated timeline of when their order will arrive.
Free shipping can be a big incentive for shoppers. You may be able to build the cost into the price of products, or consider where else in your business you might be able to absorb this cost.
5. How to Choose the Right Freight Service
The good news is, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Any business owner who’s tried an all-in-one freight management platform will tell you that it’s an absolute game changer. That’s not to say every solution is necessarily the right fit, or won’t have a few teething problems as you get to grips with the new software. But finding a software solution that works for you is definitely a change worth making in order for your business to thrive.
Try before you buy
Freight management software is the kind of thing you need to test drive before you can feel confident to fully buy in and adopt it across your business. Utilise free demos to try out a few different systems and see what feels like the best fit. For example, you can book a demo with MachShip right now to see how a purpose-built platform could work for you.
Make sure its scalable & sustainable
Where do you see your business in the next 12-18 months? Or where would you like it to get to? What about 5 years? Effective freight management software needs to not only be able to grow with your business, but to help facilitate that growth. That could be in a number of ways:
Improving accuracy and fulfilment, ensuring you can retain customers
Reducing the amount of manual input required, to save you time on admin
Always optimising for the most efficient & affordable carriers, preserving your margins to save you money
A user-friendly interface, Intuitive enough to easily onboard new employees to use the system, enabling you to grow your team and integrate new employees without spending endless hours getting them up to speed.
When choosing a freight management platform, the bottom line boils down to three key questions:
Does it make your life easier?
Does it make your business more cost-effective?
Does it improve your service?
If you’re keeping customers happy while being able to grow your business sustainably and avoid employee burnout, that’s a sure sign that things are running smoothly. An effective freight management platform should enable you to filter carriers to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective routes to save you time and money so you can focus on running your business.
What is eCommerce shipping?
eCommerce shipping refers to the process of delivering goods bought online to the people who purchased them. This could involve any type of online transaction, and includes all transport services involved in delivering the goods – commonly trucks and trains for local and interstate freight, and ships or planes for overseas freight.
How to track eCommerce shipments and returns?
Shipment tracking should be built into your freight management platform. There are several delivery tracking tools available. It’s important to have access to reliable, real-time tracking in order to monitor customer orders and be able to keep them in the loop in the event of delays. Order tracking software should be seamlessly integrated with your company website and eCommerce platform. From a customer perspective, this typically includes order status updates, estimated delivery date, and shipment tracking.
Why is eCommerce shipping more important now?
Customer habits have changed substantially in recent years. An increasing proportion of consumer purchases are done online, rather than in bricks and mortar stores. As online shopping has become more common, consumer expectations have also increased accordingly. Efficient delivery and reliable shipment tracking are extremely influential in guiding purchase decisions. Regardless of the quality of your products, if they aren’t delivered securely and on time, your customers will be less likely to continue purchasing from you.
What is the best shipping method for eCommerce?
Freight shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method for delivering eCommerce orders.
How much should I spend on eCommerce freight?
Freight costs vary from business to business as they should be proportionate to your sales. This proportion will also vary by industry. But generally, your shipping costs should be no more than 20% of your gross sales revenue.