Retail, direct-to-consumer sales, product distribution—whatever your warehouse does, you probably ship out a lot.

And when you get to shipping products in high volumes, there’s bound to be some mistakes here and there. Once off mistakes or poor judgment calls are fine, but if left unchecked these can start building up into bad habits that can affect your entire shipping department, your warehouse as a whole, and your ability to retain customers.

Here’s a few of the worst shipping habits we’ve seen in warehouses, and what you can to do prevent/reverse them before it’s too late:

 

Spending too much on shipping

One of the easiest (and earliest) mistakes a warehouse can make in shipping is to overspend on their shipping methods. It’s a tough balance to strike, with the current landscape of ecommerce resulting in customers demanding increasingly fast shipping methods, but shipping companies these days offer more options than ever before when it comes to both receiving your products and getting it in the hands of your customers. Work with your shipping partners to find a solution that fits your budget without alienating customers due to lengthy processing times. Speaking of which…

 

Delaying shipments and/or having lengthy handling times

A lot of warehouses try to prioritize outgoing shipments by ‘perceived importance’, ie adding a longer processing time to a lower-value shipment to help get more expensive, big-ticket items out the door more quickly. While this has some internal benefits, it can cause an awful lot of customer dissatisfaction. Handle orders as they come in, no matter how they impact your bottom line—taking three weeks to ship out a $6 order is going to make sure that a customer doesn’t come back to you when they need to buy something more expensive.

 

Disorganized shipping & receiving areas

Too many warehouses get in the habit of organizing where the products are stored without focusing on where the products have to go before they can be shipped out. A cluttered shipping & receiving area can cause delays in shipping and longer handling times while everyone runs around trying to figure out what they have to do next. Pare your shipping area down to a few necessary wire shelves and tables, and make sure everyone has the supplies they need to get packages together without having to run around to other departments, causing traffic and confusion.

 

Setting unrealistic expectations for customers

In the rush to fulfill every order as fast as possible to help maintain customer loyalty, you might find yourself setting the bar a little high, which can lead to your customers getting upset when their expectations aren’t met (whether they were right to have them or not). Be as transparent as possible about shipping times and handling procedures—if lower-priced items are going to have a longer shipping time than more big-ticket products, let them know upfront so they know they have a long wait ahead of them. Even if your orders don’t require longer handling times, you need to set expectations accordingly to avoid issues down the road.

 

Not communicating with customers

On the other hand, you can run into bigger problems by not being as consistent with following up as you should be. A lot of businesses take the eBay approach of providing a tracking number after the item ships and not following up after that. Provide updates to the customer, provide transparency about the item’s location and status, and make sure they’re aware of the various stops it makes during shipping. This can be easily automated with a lot of e-commerce programs, but make sure to not totally overdo it and spam a customer’s inbox.

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