Men working for a shipping and packaging provider

How to Select a Reliable Shipping and Packaging Provider

A 2022 Ipsos survey of online customers found that 85% would not reorder from a retailer if their delivery experience was poor. An earlier Ipsos survey discovered that at least two out of three consumers acknowledged “packaging design and material” influenced their future purchase decisions.

The takeaway?

Upholding impeccable shipping and packaging standards is essential for customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

So, even though cost will always be an important part of evaluating a shipping and packaging provider, it should NOT be the only consideration.

To help you understand what is (and isn’t) important in selecting a reliable provider, follow the five tips in this article. 

1. Consider cost versus time and quality

Comparing freight rates for different shipping providers is important. But cheaper prices can also come with a “price tag”: 

They may be accompanied by significant sacrifices in shipping time and service quality.

Choose a provider that offers your business an optimal balance of cost, time and service quality. 

For example, you could double conversion rates simply by providing same-day delivery for some products. According to a report by Invespcro, 61% of customers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery. This could translate to more revenue for your business if same day delivery makes sense for the products you sell and the customers you sell to. Certain retail products, such as furniture, aren’t a great match for same-day delivery. In fact, for bigger, bulkier, and more expensive items, shoppers may want to pick their own specific delivery date (to ensure they’re available) or they may be willing to wait longer than usual to avoid high costs.  

2. Don’t be afraid to negotiate

Few things in life are set in stone, so don’t be afraid to negotiate with your shipping and packaging provider, especially if you’re committing all (or the majority of) your deliveries to that one provider. 

If you’re open to signing on to a long-term arrangement with a provider, you’ll amplify your bargaining power, which increases the likelihood of securing an attractive, competitive rate. 

Third-party logistics companies (3PLs) make good partners because of their high daily shipping volume, which affords them better footing when it comes to negotiations with carriers big and small.

3. Evaluate the services supported

Evaluate the different types of services offered to see which logistics company matches your requirements for timely delivery, packaging, and more. 

Most carriers will offer at least four different types of services:

  • Same-day delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Rush delivery
  • On-demand delivery

Your customers’ needs will be mixed so you’ll want to work with a logistics partner who can be flexible. You’ll want someone with multiple carrier relationships to give you a mix of services and price points. In most instances, you can rely on your 3PL to help you negotiate and achieve a competitive advantage, such as lower freight costs or the availability of same-day delivery.

When your partner works with multiple shippers simultaneously, they can leverage each carrier’s strength, negotiate better prices, have reliable backups, and more. 

Depending on the type of product, you may need to research what type of shipping options and cost structures exist. 

Carriers—from regional brands to the majors like UPS—will measure products for physical and dimensional (DIM) weight. DIM weight charges you based on the volume of the package. Carriers take both DIM and physical weight measurements and charge you whichever is higher. 

Your 3PL should both offer a DIM weight calculator to help you plan pricing and tell you how they negotiate better DIM rates for customers like you.

4. Focus on reliability

95% of customers expect all shipping issues to be resolved during the promised delivery time. That’s why it is important to review all prior testimonials, and review them carefully, before choosing a partner. (It’s also vital to ask for referrals.)

Legal shipping, logging of goods, maintaining up-to-date electronic logs, and safe priority shipping are some safety measures that you should be on the lookout for. Most carriers offer real-time tracking, which helps customers know when they’re going to receive their orders. This will also enable you to track your goods and react to harm quickly.

Your shipping partner should integrate their systems with yours, enabling your team to quickly determine the status of any order as well as checking inventory levels and order volume.

 5. Check the quality of packaging

Packaging is important for product marketing. If you do not have visually appealing packaging, it may cause a drop in your brand reputation, company image, and impact repeat purchases negatively. 

You can also improve eCommerce returns by adopting better packaging practices: 

  • Ensuring the packaging is convenient to store
  • Putting proper branding on the packaging
  • Investing in eco-friendly packaging.

Packaging of products should, by default, provide protection for the goods during transit, especially for breakable products.

There may be additional costs associated with adding safety measures such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foam, padded dividers, climate-resistant packaging, and more. Check if these are factored into freight rates. 

Choose the provider that provides reasonable protection to your package without the need for you to splurge on extra packaging fees. 

6. Include clear product information

Product information—including storage instructions, warnings, ingredients, and more—are important details to add when packing products. Labels help convey details about what the product contains (i.e. its price, quality and quantity). 

This is especially true when shipping foods, beverages, supplements, or medicines. According to FDA regulations, all packaging needs to contain detailed labels with nutrition facts, with certain elements highlighted in large fonts—without these labels, recipients can’t make informed decisions related to their purchase. 

Confirm that the shipping and packaging provider you choose understands the labeling standards that apply to your products. Go with one that has substantial experience handling product labeling similar to yours. 

In sum…

Selecting the right shipping and packaging partner is extremely important—it directly correlates with customer satisfaction, returns, repeat purchases, and more. 

Carefully evaluate the strategic measures outlined within this article to find a reliable shipping provider. Having a system in place to ensure quality packaging and timely delivery can help convert first-time buyers to returning customers.

Alex Selwitz

Alex Selwitz is the Director of SEO for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of eCommerce. He has years of experience in eCommerce and digital marketing. In his free time, Alex enjoys playing guitar and learning about new trends in the digital world.

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