8 ways to improve your delivery performance

The secrets to lightning-fast shipping

Here's something that happened to me that serves as a great example.

Just a few weeks ago, I was looking for some RAM to upgrade my good ol’ laptop. As you know, there are thousands of sellers offering laptop parts everywhere on the web, so I had lots of choice on who to order from. I started to make a selection of the deals that seemed best for me, based on my main concerns

  • First, the price, of course. RAM being RAM, I wasn't expecting any extra bells or whistles - it does what it says on the tin!
  • Second, the shipping costs. I didn’t want to spend as much on shipping as on the RAM.
  • And finally, the timescale. Although I wasn't in a hurry, faster would be better.

In the end,
I chose the seller whose offer had the best quote and with a shipping method that would be not too pricey and who could deliver within a reasonable amount of time. Which means that those who shipped cheaper but too slow, or faster but too expensive, were simply erased from my list.

I’m telling you this story because this is the story of most, if not all, online shoppers.

Some people will always choose the cheapest no matter what, but in general, people want to get the best bang for their buck, even if that means spending just a little bit more. Delivery is a very important part of a purchase, so it’s definitely something you should do right.

Here are 8 rules to follow to get the best delivery performance for the lowest costs.

1.    Simplify your internal processes

It’s not unusual to see companies using several programs or systems for as little as one internal process. This turns a simple task into a complicated and slow process, creating frustration along the way. If your process is long and painful, consider starting again from scratch and building up something that is simple, quick, and efficient.

2.    Speed up communication with your warehouse

The worst way to slow down a delivery is to keep it locked somewhere between the customer’s order and the actual order process.
Make it quick. No, make it instantaneous! It should only take a matter of seconds for the order to be processed at your warehouse (or by your supplier if you use drop-shipping or similar inventory rules.)

3.    Be as neat as a surgeon

Finding a needle in a haystack is precisely what an order process shouldn’t be like. Know the exact location of each item in your warehouse. Don’t hesitate to use tools like scanning devices to get up-to-date info on your stock. And although manpower will always be a good part of the process, try to automate as many tasks as possible.

4.    Create a list of courier services 

Depending on where and how fast you will have to deliver, some services might be better than others. Check all the services that are available to you, and list their price per weight and destination. This way, you'll just have to check your list and use the most appropriate service.
My advice: not all public postal services are evil, so don't be afraid to check your local post office! I use both Royal Mail and USPS quite often, and usually they're quite good. Bear in mind though that private companies like DHL, TNT or UPS will usually be able to ship faster.

5.    Use EDI where you can

EDI (electronic data interchange) is a technique used by many transporters that basically replaces the old paperwork with electronic data. As you can imagine, getting rid of paperwork makes the process much quicker.
A lot of customs offices use this technique as it allows a much larger volume to be processed at the same time. 

6.    Open up frontiers

Do you ship to destinations outside of your own country? Get some contacts and make some connections in the destination countries so that you know which services to use, which to avoid, and what things you can prepare upfront to ensure smooth shipping.

7.    Prepare for customs clearance in advance

Customs clearance is a very long and frustrating sequence of the delivery process, but unfortunately there is no way to avoid it. A good solution that more and more countries offer is to declare the goods online, even before they leave the country. Your parcel will then slip through customs and go straight to its destination. Believe me, that will save you a lot of time. 

8.    Keep your customers informed

Time goes awfully slowly when you’re waiting for something. Keeping your customers informed on the status of the delivery will make time go much faster for them. So even if you can't do anything to speed up the time, you can make your customers feel much more satisfied because they know what’s happening.

There are always more ways to improve your delivery performance, and when it comes to your business, you should constantly keep looking for ways to be better.

With Christmas just around the corner, I know these are TOUGH times, so I'm sure these little tips will help you out! Remember that it's never too late to get better at something, but the most important is to keep doing well what you already do well.

While Santa's known for using reindeers and a sleigh to deliver his presents worldwide, it's worth remembering that some companies also develop their own "magical" shipping method, like that Shipping Drone that Amazon plans on using. See, there's no reason to be scared of the unknown. Just don’t mess with the FAA or NASA. They don’t like "Unidentified Flying Objects" too much!

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