Shipping is one of the key entrepreneurial barriers for hardware businesses. It is often poorly understood and is a common source of inefficiency for start-ups executing more direct distribution.
Amazon's success is largely attributable to their shipping excellence in speed and reliability. The bar to compete is precisely this. Choosing the right carrier, designing a strong package, and setting up an efficient ship-out process are your essential steps.
Does the package eventually get to the customer? How close are the curves of expected delivery time versus actual delivery time across all shipments?
Tracking numbers let the customer monitor their own package.
If a shipment does get lost, how quickly and confidently can it be found? Resolve complaints promptly.
Customer places order
Merchant purchases shipping service from carrier
Customer receives shipment tracking number
Merchant prints shipping label and attaches it on package
Shipping labels can be printed on adhesive labels or regular paper. I recommend using high speed laser printers. Adhesive labels simply stick on the package. Paper labels must be inserted in a transparent pouch that adheres on the package. Adhesive labels are faster to attach and easier to automate, hence preferred by large distributors. Pouches are also used to carry extra documents, such as for cross-country duties.
Merchant passes package to carrier
ULINE is a popular North American distributor of supplies for shipping and logistics.