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Growing your business: The importance of scalable shipping solutions

Written by
Guest contributor
Aug 9, 2023
9:55 am
minute read

Editor's Note: As PorterLogic specializes in warehouse and inventory management from order to dock, our partners at EasyPost wanted to make sure our readers understand the importance of scalable shipping operations as well. Enjoy!

Seeing your business grow is exciting! It means you’re doing things right: reaching your ideal customers, providing great products, and reaping the rewards. But with great growth comes great responsibility — and lots of logistical challenges. 

That’s why it’s critical to develop a shipping strategy you can rely on as your organization expands. As your business grows, be on the lookout for the common shipping challenges, which you can alleviate with a smart shipping strategy.

Five challenges businesses face when expanding operations

When expanding your operations, your organization becomes more complex. If your systems and processes can’t keep up with your growth, you’re looking at confusion, inefficiency, and ultimately lost profits. 

But with the right planning, any rapidly growing company can create a shipping strategy that stands the test of time. The earlier you start, the better — but it’s never too late. Let’s explore five challenges you’ll face as your business grows.

Challenge #1: Meeting high customer expectations for reliability and delivery speed

As ecommerce has evolved, customers have come to expect reliable, fast delivery — and they don’t want to pay extra for it. They want to know that their package will get to them where and when they expect, and they want it fast. In fact, research shows that 90% of customers in the U.S. expect free two- or three-day shipping. When sellers can’t keep up, frustrated customers might find another brand to buy from. 

Challenge #2: Carrier integrations

A multi-carrier shipping strategy is definitely the path to success, but establishing partnerships with many different carriers can be extremely time-consuming. Between negotiating contracts, setting up accounts, complying with carrier requirements, and dealing with technical setbacks, the integration process can take months. 

Challenge #3: More complex inventory management 

You already know the importance of managing your inventory to avoid stockouts or overstocking. As your company grows, it becomes even more vital (and difficult) to optimize inventory management.

Challenge #4: Limited infrastructure and facilities

When you sell more, you ship more. That means having to set up new distribution centers and warehouses, which can require major investments in real estate, technology, and staffing.

Challenge #5: Data management and analysis

Gaining meaningful insights from data is the top technology-related challenge that shippers face. 

As your organization grows, your data becomes more complex. With each new technology solution you add, it gets harder to integrate data. This makes it tricky to see the complete picture of your shipping operations. Additionally, rapidly increasing shipping volume can lead to a surge in data. If you don’t put measures in place to maintain data accuracy and quality, your “data-informed decisions” might just be bad decisions.

Four tips to effectively scale your shipping operations 

With the right planning, any rapidly growing company can create a shipping strategy that stands the test of time. The earlier you start, the better — but it’s never too late. Let’s explore four tips for streamlining your shipping.

Adopt a multi-carrier shipping strategy

To optimize delivery speed, improve reliability, and retain customers, adopt a multi-carrier shipping strategy. 

With a multi-carrier strategy, deliveries are faster and less expensive. Smaller, regional carriers are adept at delivering in their local area, which means they can fulfill orders more quickly and efficiently. Larger carriers have different prices, so working with several of them means you can choose the price and service level that work best for each package you send.

Carrier diversity isn’t just about speed and cost — it’s also about getting orders sent out even when external factors slow down the supply chain. If you rely on a single carrier, and something happens to slow down or stop their service, you’re out of luck. Many retailers learned that the hard way in 2020, when UPS and FedEx started putting a cap on parcel volume. By implementing carrier diversity, you’ll ensure that if something goes wrong with one carrier, your business won’t grind to a halt. 

Adopting a multi-carrier shipping strategy means finding a technology solution, like a shipping API, to make it easy to integrate with dozens (even hundreds) of carriers. Hooking up with a shipping API gives you access to all the many carriers they are already integrated with. It can also improve the overall buying experience for customers with additional features, such as package tracking, address verification, shipping insurance, and more.

Invest in inventory management software

At a certain point in a business’s growth, inventory management software becomes a must. With the right inventory management software, you can gain real-time insight into stock levels, accurately forecast demand, and automate inventory replenishment. 

If you’re not ready for sophisticated software yet, you can mitigate inventory management challenges by following these best practices: 

  • Implement manual tracking systems.
  • Conduct regular physical counts.
  • Establish clear communication channels between sales and warehouse teams.

Partner with a third-party logistics provider

Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) partner with sellers to fulfill customer orders. They receive shipments, store and track inventory, and pack and ship orders. When you work with a 3PL, you can leverage their existing distribution centers and warehouses, reducing the need to invest in new infrastructure yourself. 

Use shipping analytics tools

The best way to bring all your data into one place — and make sense of it — is to use a data analytics platform specifically designed for shipping and logistics. A good data platform will integrate with the management systems you have in place to extract and analyze essential data. You’ll get the actionable insights you need to make informed decisions and grow your business. 

In addition to choosing the right platform, follow these suggestions to gain the most helpful and actionable insights from your data:

  • Regularly cleanse and validate data to ensure it’s accurate and consistent. Automate data validation whenever possible. 
  • Safeguard sensitive data by investing in data security solutions such as encryption, access controls, and monitoring. Always follow privacy regulations and compliance standards. 
  • Use data visualization tools to present information clearly and identify patterns. 

By making data-informed decisions, you’ll ensure that shipping operations at your business are efficient and cost-effective. 

Stay ahead of the curve by choosing the right shipping solution

Every growing business will run into challenges — but with a solid strategic foundation, the right technology, and the ability to pivot quickly, you can overcome every obstacle that comes your way. Get started with EasyPost’s complete shipping solution, which connects you with hundreds of carriers and saves you up to 88% on retail shipping rates.

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