Written by Starshipit
Building an online store? To be prepared you need to think about the last mile first. Thanks to the ease and accessibility of eCommerce platforms, setting up an online store has never been easier.
But there’s so much more to running a successful online business than having an awesome product and a great-looking website.
Before a customer places an order, you need to know how they’re going to receive it.
When setting up your fulfilment process, you have a few options:
It’s important that you choose your couriers carefully, based on the services you want to offer your customers. For example, are you going to be shipping domestically and internationally? One courier might do both, but it might be more efficient and affordable if you sign up with one for domestic shipping and another for international.
Consider your target audience and what they will be looking for in their delivery experience too. For example, same-day delivery for metro areas works well for fashion businesses (get those shoes delivered in time for the weekend!). If you sell high-value items, you might need a ‘signature required’ delivery option.
Once you’ve determined the delivery experience you want to provide, it’s time to find the couriers that will make it happen. Select a few, compare rates and service offerings, and find out if you can arrange regular collections from your warehouse or if you need to drop off parcels to the post office or a collection point.
Some retailers are daunted by couriers so might decide that a shipping aggregator is the best way to get the cheapest rates. In actual fact, if you deal with the courier companies directly you’ll be more likely to get a better rate than the aggregators can offer because you can negotiate directly (and the aggregator can’t add a margin on top).
Starshipit is an enabler, not an aggregator, which means we connect businesses to the couriers directly so they have total control over their shipping. We have excellent relationships with leading domestic and international couriers, so we can help businesses of every shape and size negotiate the best rates with them directly, instead of being served up rates that aggregators clip the ticket on.
Printing shipping labels is one part of the fulfilment process that is often overlooked, even though it’s arguably the most important – and the most time-consuming. In the early days it might be sustainable to hand-write addresses onto the front of courier bags or print labels off one by one on your standard ink jet printer, but it’s easy to make mistakes and as your volume increases it’s just not sustainable long-term.
Fulfilment automation software like Starshipit looks after everything printing-related for you. Print shipping labels and packing slips at the click of a button, one or a few at a time or all at once. Printing manifests for couriers and customs documentation for international orders is easy too. You can even autocorrect invalid addresses before you print the labels, so even if your customer input the wrong details their parcel will still get to the right place.
Don’t forget all the stationary and packaging supplies you’re going to need too. Labels, label supplies, printers, packaging, boxes, padding for protection … make sure you have enough supplies on hand so when your next influx of orders comes through, you’re prepared.
Because you’ll be doing a lot of printing, it’s important that you think about the best printer too. An inkjet printer goes through a lot of ink so the more orders you send out the more ink cartridges you’ll have to buy. If it rains the ink could run too, making it virtually impossible for the courier driver to know where they’re supposed to deliver your parcel.
A thermal printer uses heat to print images onto special thermal paper. The paper costs slightly more than standard paper but it doesn’t use ink, it’s much faster to print onto, and it won’t run if it gets wet so it’s much more cost-effective and efficient overall. We recommend the Zebra GK420d, SATO WS4 and DYMO LabelWriter 4XL.