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Year in Review: How a 3PL Helps You Learn from Successes and Challenges

Year in Review: How a 3PL Helps You Learn from Successes and Challenges

Learn how the perfect third party logistics partner can assist your year-end shipping review and provide you with invaluable and actionable insights.
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New Year, New Shipping Strategies: 6 Ways to Start Strong in 2023

The flipping of the calendar to a new year is always a great chance for reviews, reassessments and resolutions. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your shipping strategies and give them a polish and an upgrade.

Important questions to ask yourself at the edge of the new year include: "What about my current shipping strategies are working and what needs to be improved or added?" and "What are the top shipping solutions my customers need from me?"

In a recent post, we talked about the best ways to conduct a year-end review to identify the challenges and successes of your small or mid-sized business (SMB) shipping over the last year. Now it's time to take those findings, combine them with foreseeable trends in the logistics industry, and convert them into powerful shipping solutions.

Ready to start 2023 stronger than ever? Read on for our top six ways to update your shipping strategy for the new year!

1. Perform a guided year-end review

This is a crucial first step, as mentioned above. If you haven't done it yet it, a review should be undertaken before you dive into the rest of your new shipping strategy. After all, you can't prepare for the future if you haven't learned from the past!

The best way to approach a year-end review is with guidance and support from an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) provider . You want to have the assistance of a 3PL who understands the challenges that are unique to small business shipping and can offer insights and solutions.

Once you've conducted your review, you'll have a good understanding of the people and processes that are making positive contributions to your shipping operations, as well as the areas that need improvement. These insights are golden and should form the basis of your shipping strategy going forward.

2. Get your costs under control

Elevated inflation hasn't been tamed just yet, so you need to bake cost controls into your 2023 shipping strategies. Some great ways to reign in unnecessary spending are:

  • Avoiding unnecessary fees. Take a few moments to correctly enter information such as dimensional weight and package measurements during the quote stage of every shipment.
  • Evaluating the UPS® service options you're using. Are you paying for overnight service when 2-Day, 3-Day or Ground service would still be acceptable to your customers?
  • Right-sizing your package prep. While it can be disastrous to under-wrap and insulate items, it can also be costly to use more supplies than you need to secure a package. Make sure you are also always using the right-sized box, as larger dimensions will cost you more even if the items inside the box could fit into a smaller container.
  • Protecting your profits through insurance. You can eliminate the financial burden and inconvenience of replacement products and parts by adding cost-efficient shipping insurance to your shipments.

3. Plan on perpetual peak season

Once upon a time, the cold months of the year around the holidays were considered to be peak shipping season, with a predictable fluctuations in volumes the other nine months of the year.

No more. The last few years have seen the seasonal shipping cycle upended, and now we're just left with the busy season and the busiest season. What this means for your shipping strategy is that you need to build more time into your processes wherever possible to account for increased shipping volume throughout the year.

Just-in-time shipments may have squeaked by in the past, but smart shippers look for ways to plan ahead. Stay well-stocked on the packaging items you regularly run through, and make sure you're setting realistic delivery timelines with your customers and communicating throughout the shipping process.

4. Accelerate into e-commerce

Consumer behavior has permanently shifted in the wake of the work-from-home and shop-from-home pandemic mindset. Customers now have an online-first mentality when it comes to many purchases, and this trend is just accelerating.

Incorporating a strong e-commerce program into your shipping strategy is a smart move. If applicable to your business, consider implementing a subscription service that involves regular product shipments to your customers.

Advantages of an e-commerce subscription program include:

  • A more predictable revenue stream
  • Improved forecasting that will reduce inventory costs and storage while also reducing amount of unsold products you need to deal with
  • Parcel shipping cost savings by shipping with more economical ground delivery options

5. Refine your returns processes

Chances are, you're leaving money on the table when it comes to returned products. As part of your new year strategy, take a look at your current returns process and ensure that your policies are competitive in your industry and clearly explained on your website, etc.

If your returns policy looks like it needs some sprucing up, there are several quick ways to refine and improve it:

  • Improve the verbiage surrounding your return policy on your website and other documentation. A clear and easily understood policy is greatly appreciated by your current and potential customers, and can cut down on disputes and other returns-related misunderstandings.
  • Include a return label with your shipments. While some SMBs might worry that this tactic will increase returns, it actually saves both you and your customers time and hassle, and is easily accomplished through myUnishippers™.
  • Consider offering free return shipping. Committing a little more budget here can pay big dividends in customer goodwill and loyalty.

6. Make sure you partner with the right 3PL

All the planning and strategizing in the world will be for naught if they don't align with the unique needs and challenges of your SMB. Partnering with the right 3PL is the final piece in the puzzle when it comes to perfecting your shipping plan.

Unishippers has provided customized and personalized shipping solutions for tens of thousands of SMBs across the country. Our team of shipping experts excel at assessing our customers' shipping operations from top to bottom and assisting them in the development of unbeatable shipping strategies. We understand small business challenges because we are a collection of franchisee-owned small businesses. Let the Unishippers pros help you make 2023 a year of unprecedented shipping success!