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6 Most Common Shipping Mistakes

Shipping departments are tasked with rushing orders out the door and having to manually process exceptions due to problems upstream. These everyday occurrences can lead to making common shipping mistakes that often go unnoticed. Find out how to fix these mistakes and improve the efficiency of your shipping department.

1. Leaving Decisions in the Hands of the Shipper

Every day as orders ship out of the warehouse and are on the way to the customer, do you ever wonder how many decisions are made to get the packages out the door? It is a common occurrence that still exists today where the shipper is making critical shipping decisions and not leaving it up to technology.

The most common mistake is using carrier-provided software, likely the person shipping will ship any last minute packages using the easiest software or the carrier system closest to them. It may not be the cheapest carrier, but for the shipper his decision is about time and ease of doing the job. This can be very costly to your company if you offer “Free Shipping” or charge a flat shipping fee.

The best solution: get a multi-carrier shipping solution that is integrated to your order entry system – with the right business rules and setup, the software can make the correct decisions even during crunch time

2. Validating the Address at Shipping

Shipping is the last time you will touch a customer’s order and it should not be the time to check and correct the address of where the package is shipping to. When the shipping department processes hundreds or thousands of orders and has to stop to validate every address, this can create a bottleneck and even risk not getting the package shipped out if it requires a phone call to the customer to confirm the right address.

The best solution: put the address validation in your order entry system and in your web store – the customer should be in control of this decision when they are placing the order and ultimately decide what the correct address to use is

3. Picking the Wrong Carrier and Service for the Job

At some point most of us will experience either paying too much for shipping or not getting the package delivered the way we expected it. What does this create? An unhappy customer. Often the customer will leave it up to you to pick how their order will ship. You may never know you made the wrong decision until the customer receives the package or the bill. By the time the customer is calling you it is too late. Selecting the right carrier and service is an important way to keep the customer happy and returning for future orders.

The best solution: for phone orders provide your customer a freight estimate to help them decide the carrier and service at the time of placing the order; for web orders give the customer the option to pick a service (i.e. Next Business Day, 2-3 Business Days, Least Cost); for frequent customers setup a profile with their preferred carrier and service so you ship their orders right every time

4. Skipping the Package Dimensions When Shipping

Unless the shipper knows exactly which box sizes will “dim out”, your company may be overlooking a very costly aspect of shipping. Glancing over the detailed carrier invoice will put it in perspective if you see “Weight Correction” next the tracking number. Did you know for a package that is 6” x 6” x 6” and weighs 1 pound, the billable weight is 2 pounds using an air service? As the size of the package goes up so does the dimensional weight and not calculating the right rate for invoicing can cost your company more than you really want to know.

The best solution: always capture the package dimensions at the time of shipping and negotiate your dim factor with the carriers

5. Using Oversized Boxes to Ship Customer Orders

It is surprising how many companies still use oversized boxes to ship product even as the carriers keep lowering the dim factor for calculating billable weight (in 2002 the standard was 194 and in 2012 it is now 166). When the customer has to pay for shipping, they don’t want to pay for all that extra room in the box. And, if your company is picking up the tab on shipping, you surely don’t want to incur the extra expense.

The best solution: make sure the packers have a good selection of box sizes – not only will you save the customer the extra expense for shipping but you will also reduce your cost of packing material

6. Forgetting to check if Ground can handle 1 Day and 2 Day Orders

The customer wants their order next day so you automatically ship the package using a carrier’s next day service at a premium price. If the customer does not need the package at a specific time (i.e. Next Day by 10:30 AM), check to see if a ground service can guarantee delivery of the package within one day. Why not save your company or the customer money on shipping? This should also be used for Two Day and Three Day service requests.

The best solution: setup rate shop groups that include ground services and utilize the transit times available from the carriers to figure out the least cost way to get the package to the customer on time