This guest blog is contributed by Labels Zoo, a Zenstores partner selling high quality and competitively priced labels.
Instant gratification. It is one of the defining characteristics of the modern world. The internet is always on, a sprawling digital library, shopping mall and arcade open 24 hours a day. The convenience of the information age has made the mundane limitations of the physical world seem maddeningly sluggish. The postal service, an integral part of our national commerce since 1850s has a new name: “Snail Mail”.
With so much available right now it’s no surprise that consumers have high expectations when it comes to the physical delivery. As an online merchant, sublime product design or exemplary after sales care often play second fiddle to rapid delivery. It is the setting and resolution of that initial expectation that can shape a customer’s experience with your brand. And with things like Amazon’s same day delivery services emerging into the online marketplace, the bar is higher than ever.
To help deliver a superlative customer experience, here is some battle-forged advice for smaller Amazon, eBay and Etsy sellers to hold their own in the delivery melee.
1. You can't have ideas about your station- until you've got a station
Efficient, cost effective, packaging is a product of a meticulously organised and considered environment. It is tempting - particularly if you are a fledgling seller moving low volumes - to think that investing in packing station is overkill. You might make do with packing on the living room floor for a while, but it’s only a matter of time before something is trod on, eaten by the dog,mislabelled, or hoovered up.
Ideally, you want a clean, tidy desk at a suitable height to work at while standing. Depending on the size and nature of your business, it’s ideal to have shelving and racking for products and packaging materials within easy reach. Every little concession you can make to streamline the packaging process will save hours over a year. It’s a great idea to have a picklist, consignment manifest and your pre-prepared packaging labels, synchronised and in the correct order, at the ready. Integrated labels are perfect for this, and tools like Zenstores can really speed up label prep.
The best flow to have around your station is to work down your picklist, moving right to left (or left to right) keeping all the ‘raw’ materials on one side and finished parcels on the other.
2. The right tools for the job
If you’re finding yourself having to repackage items, or frequently end up with a pile of untidy looking parcels, you’re probably skimping on proper tools and materials. Courier services are notorious for their sometimes less-than-gentle treatment. Your packaging needs to be resilient enough to protect your product through the rigours of the delivery system. Poor packaging can lead to complications with delivery, longer lead times, lost parcels and even returns.
Buy quality packaging materials in bulk and Don’t be afraid to experiment to find boxes that fit snugly, or suit oddly shaped items that fare badly when posted. Proper tape is a must – you aren’t saving money by using weak brown packaging tape. Nice sharp scissors and Stanley knives are also essential.
Opting for quality doesn’t mean expensive, for example: using integrated labels (plenty of options available like these from Labels Zoo) allows you to print directly out of your home printer rather than investing in a label printer. Integrated labels also have the advantage of allowing you to include returns labels and invoices, which can help smooth out the experience if something does go wrong.
Finally, don’t shy away from putting a bit of finesse into your packaging. Customers will also tend to be more understanding in the event of an item getting beaten up by couriers, if it’s clear that a lot of effort went into making the packaging attractive and secure beforehand.
3. Timing is everything
Optimising your routine around your courier is absolutely key. If you catch those early morning collections, you’ll be getting your orders out to your customers as fast possible. If you can possibly manage it, and have the volume of orders to support it, you could break the day into two sessions. This means that anyone who orders after your morning consignment doesn’t have to wait until the following day for their parcel to get into the transit system – those customers will be wowed by your same day dispatch!
There you have it – these tips should help you along that desirable path of having a nice easy life, without any unwanted complications. The overarching theme here is organisation and preparation – if you can pre-prepare, do! You’ll save yourself an eternity in the long run.