Yesterday we discussed How to List the Most in One Day and, as promised, today we will discuss Secrets to Saving Time Shipping Online Orders. Enjoy these super simple tips that will greatly increase your output!
TIP 1: Use Shelf Locations to inventory your merchandise (If you’re not using shelf locations, read our 3 part series! ( Part 1: Shelving Basics Part 2: How to Label Inventory / Assigning SKUs Part 3: How to Assign Shelf Locations). When you know EXACTLY where the item is you save an absolute ton of time looking for it. It may sound hard and scary but it’s actually really-super-mega-simple. Once you learn to use shelf locations you will wonder how you ever lived without them! If you don’t believe that shelf locations will help you any, do yourself a favor and download a free stopwatch app on your phone and time yourself. You might be able to easily locate the first 20 orders, but that 21st order that you can’t locate eats up endless time hunting for it.
TIP #2: Batch Pull. If you are printing 1 order then walking to the shelving to locate the merchandise, then walking to the shipping area, then waling back to the computer to print postage, then back to the shipping area, then back to the PC to print the next order…. Doesn’t just READING that sound like chaos? If you are only shipping 1 order at a time you are spending a ton of time criss-crossing the same path over and over. Clearly, this is a massive time drain. Instead, utilize bins and a rolling cart. This is also mega simple! Here’s how to do it:
Purchase 5 or 10 bins. The size of the bin depends on how big your merchandise is. If your average sale is one t-shirt or a lip gloss, you can buy awesome small, cheap STACKABLE bins. Here's a couple different styles to consider (just make sure the invoice fits in it without falling out:
The four-pack of bins shown above is only $11.99. These should fit on top of your rolling cart with ease.
The four-pack shown above provides you with a larger space than the $11.99 pack. This specific pack is under $16.
Here's a 12-PACK that is big enough to hold a pair of shoes:
BUT, my personal recommendation would be going with these larger bins that measure 16.75 x 11.88 x 7 inches so you have plenty of space regardless of how much the buyer orders or how thickness of the item(s):
Although these bins seem pricy, $75 for 12 bins, keep in mind that it is something you only have to buy one time and will be able to use forever.
You should also pickup a cheap rolling cart. Like, you really, truly should because it's a game-changer!
Amazon has super cheap, slim rolling carts that won’t take up much room in your home:
- Next, print all of your invoices.
- Put 1 invoice in each bin.
- Put the bins on the cart.
- Roll the cart to the shelving area.
- Pull an order, put it in the bin with the matching invoice.
When you are done, roll your cart right next to your shipping table.
See how easy that is? By doing this you are only walking from the PC to the inventory storage area ONE TIME. You are only walking from shelving to shipping ONE TIME. No criss-crossing! Sh*t tons of time saved!
TIP 3: Shipping Area should be right next to the PC. You should be able to pack something and print postage without walking across a room. If you want to see our shipping Watch our Warehouse Tour Video. Alternatively, if you can’t make this happen you can pickup a cheap laptop with 3+ ports (NOT a Chromebook) and hook your label printer up to the laptop. Keep the laptop in the shipping area.
TIP 4: Speaking of Label Printers, OMG you absolutely MUST use a thermal label printer. A thermal printer will spit out a label in a literal fraction of a second and IT DOESN’T TAKE INK, Toner or a Printer Ribbon so you immediately eliminate many costs associated with a “regular printer”. I have no idea how long thermal printers last but we have had ours since 2014 and it still works like new even though we print tons of labels every day of the year. On the other hand, if you are using a regular printer and pieces of computer paper, or print-on-labels, you are wasting so much time waiting for it to print. Just how much time do you save? Well, a normal printer requires time to “warm up”, then more time to print whereas the thermal instantly spits out the label. It’s pretty friggin amazing to be blatantly honest with you. The additional benefits are:
- No need to cut paper labels to size
- No need to deal with “ink clogs”
- Never deal with “it printed too light! I can barely read it” again
- Never change another ink cartridge
- No need to deal with printing Test Sheets
- NO MORE PAPER JAMS!!! Ok, this is a teeny, tiny lie. On super rare occasion a label may jam, but this only happens like twice a year. And it’s a breeze to fix!
TIP 5: Set up a designated time to ship. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SHIP IT THE SECOND THE ORDER COMES THROUGH. Stop dropping everything you are doing to rush to ship it. Trust me, the buyer doesn’t think any more or less of you if they receive tracking in 10 minutes versus if they receive tracking in 5 hours. Either way it was “lightning fast shipping”. You can’t win any additional “stars” by shipping it any faster than same-day (or next day). So, instead of running to the computer the moment the order comes through, create a block of time (or two) to bang out all of the orders. In yesterdays blog post I shared with you our schedule:
- Photography (and videos) occur daily from 8am - 10am.
- Creating the listing is from 10am - 12pm.
- Shelving the merchandise is 12pm - 2pm.
If I was working alone I would have shipped from 5:30am - 8am and again from 2pm until it’s done. But, thankfully I have staff that is able to ship from 7am until 3pm daily. If you need to respond to customer inquiries, set aside one or two specific times to do this, perhaps it might be easiest for you to reply in the evening, after all of the other work is done.
TIP 6: Move the parcels to the “pickup area” in bulk (or if you are bringing them to USPS, move them to your vehicle in bulk). You can utilize your rolling cart for this as well. The less times you have to walk back and fourth to get parcels, the more time you save and time IS money! If your parcels do not fit on your rolling cart, you can pickup a COLLAPSIBLE shopping bin cart:
This will not take up any space because it folds flat and can fit in the smallest area. Amazon has a big selection of these types of moving carts.
TIP 7: Reorganize your "flow" process. Your flow should be an actual "flow", like water. Let's take a look at how a standard size room in a house, that has been incorrectly laid out, looks in terms of "flow":
As you can see, this is not a good flow at all. Tons of path-crossing. If you instead re-design the area you can create a seamless "flow" that will save you an absolute ton of time:
Ultimately, your "flow" should END at the door that you need to exit with all the parcels.
TIP 8: For Heavens sake, PLEASE stop wrapping everything in tissue and handwriting Thank You notes. Yes, it's super cute and fun but it's a financial drain on your small business and it is on our list of Order Packaging Mistakes that BUYERS HATE in 2020. As mentioned in that article, a buyer makes a purchase because they want the item. Having it arrives wrapped in tissue does NOT make them happier with the item if they love the merchandise. Equally, if they hate the purchase, the tissue isn't going to change their mind. If you don't believe me, read reviews on eBay or any site and look for how many times a review says "I was going to leave 3 stars because it wasn't what I thought it would be, but because the seller wrapped it in tissue paper I am going to leave 5!" So if wrapping it fancy won't make them more happy or less happy, why waste the time and money doing it???? And, I know this is painful, but NOBODY saves handwritten Thank You cards, papers or Post-Its. It all goes direcly into the trash. This is even more painful, but most people don't even read it. BUT, this does NOT mean you shouldn't Thank your buyer, however your THANK YOU should be of actual use. If you read our post about Thank You Card Ideas that are actually BENEFICIAL for your business you can have the best of both worlds; a Thank You Card + Contact Information + Promotion!
Where to Next? Popular Topics: