1. Operations & Supply Chain

Small Businesses Should Be Diversifying Their Supply Chains, Too

Businesses are constantly having to navigate unexpected issues with their shipping processes and the real consequences that come to their bottom line. From upstream disruptions such as havoc in international waters that clog ports and upend access to goods, to downstream disruptions like inclement weather that mess with on-time-delivery (OTD) rates, the supply chain as a whole can be unreliable and unpredictable for an e-commerce business. However, it’s within the last mile where a small business can make changes that help navigate these challenges and keep customers happy. Here’s why diversifying your supply chains — and more specifically shipping carriers — is the way to do this.

Upgrade Your Shipping Strategy With Increased Optionality and Reliability

Shipping processes aren’t limited to just one tried-and-true method. In fact, it’s much more beneficial to have more shipping carriers than it is to solely rely on just one. Diversifying a small business’s supply chain is no longer an opportunity afforded exclusively to enterprises or midsized businesses, with the resources and capital to have endless options in their logistics networks. Small businesses can access diversification through methods such as:

  • The ability to future-proof your shipping routes: Slowdowns can be better avoided, especially if one particular carrier or route gets overwhelmed during a season, due to weather or for other reasons. Using multiple carriers and thus accessing multiple shipping routes only helps your shipments remain on track and on time.
  • Paying less for the more reliable service: Inflation remains a concern among consumers and businesses and it’s all the more vital for small businesses to save wherever possible. This includes saving on shipping costs without cutting corners on providing your customers with a stellar experience.
  • Increased efficiency: Businesses now have the option to use a shipping platform that seamlessly conduits between sales outlets and shipping services so that there’s less time spent on rerouted packages for your business and your customers.

Having a diverse network of partners and vendors across the shipping industry and seeking out a trusted partner that can create a solid end-to-end picture for you is an achievable first step for small businesses to be able to offer customers optionality and reliability.

Supply Chain Diversification Best Practices

Letting your customers know how you’re diversifying your small business shipping options can further secure a smooth experience for them and you. There are a few things your business can prioritize to keep customers happy:

  • Minimize customer impacts of diversified logistics. Don’t burden your customers with managing the complexity of using multiple shipping partners. It’s critical that customers can access the best rates while experiencing the same tracking expectations with each shipping experience.
  • Express the value of shipping. Shipping can feel transactional, but you can improve your customer experience by demonstrating the value that shipping brings to each recipient. Celebrate the quick ETAs, showcase the sustainability and carbon-neutral priorities of your shippers, and highlight the transit guarantees that your service offers.
  • 24/7 support is critical. Shipping is hard. Protect your business and its customers by ensuring you have world-class support from your partners. Providing tools for self-service can reduce customer complaints and improve customer retention.

There are only benefits to diversifying your shipping processes in 2024. Carrier diversification could be the key to growing your small business, satisfying your customers, and encouraging repeat purchases throughout peak seasons and beyond.

Tyler Abderholden is vice president, global logistics network, Sendle, a courier service for small businesses.

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