The impact of COVID-19 has been undeniably felt throughout the economy and communities, but for small businesses even more so. From retailers temporarily closing their doors to people staying indoors to self-isolate, the rate of online purchases has increased astronomically.
With an increase in online sales comes an increase in package deliveries during COVID-19. Many businesses have translated their brick and mortar shops to online platforms through the likes of BigCommerce or Shopify to respond to the increasing number of online purchases happening these days. Though shipping couriers remain an essential service during this time, some services are experiencing delays or changes to their procedures to maximize safety. Our main goal is to help you deliver your services to your customers safely so that your business can run mainly unaffected during these difficult times.
We've put together some small business shipping strategies you can use right now to keep your eCommerce store running efficiently and how to maintain good customer service.
Optimise your shipping approach
As borders tighten restrictions and air transportation is less frequent, delivery times are experiencing some delays. In order to offset this unavoidable result of COVID-19, you can offer your customers the cheapest shipping rates or even free shipping by using our Economy services. Our low-cost small business shipping rates can already be a huge help and if you already use us, packaging your products efficiently can cut these costs down even further.
How can I measure my packages for sending?
We already have a guide for packaging certain items, but if, during this time, you're unable to go out and get a measuring tape and a weighing scale for your products, using a haberdashery measuring tape or a children's ruler for school can work just fine to accurately measure packages.
To find the weight of your parcel you can always use a bodyweight scales or a kitchen weighing scales to generate accurate measurements too! If you have any more doubts about the dimensions of your package, make sure you air on the side of generosity. It's better to overestimate than underestimate! Be sure to check the website of the manufacturer who produced your item as they may have the weight and dimensions posted there.
If you ship with us at Interparcel, we can help you cut costs even further by offering free shipping labels. Lots of other shipping solutions have fees that come with shipping labels, but with us we can give you all the labels you'll need. We provide our customers with address labels that can be used to track your parcel on route as well as customs invoices that you may need when sending outside the EU or importing goods back into the UK. These labels will need to be printed and secured to your package, but if you won't be able to access a printer before sending, we have lots of services with specialist couriers such as DX, Tufnell's, Parcelforce and Citysprint that simply require you to write the address clearly on the package with no printing necessary!
Aside from our low-cost small business shipping, we offer full tracking services so your customers can be assured of the whereabouts of their parcels, every step of the way.
Cheapest local shipping solutions
If your small business usually operates as a physical store but you do have an online ordering platform, you can offer local customers home delivery options. Think about it, if ordinarily your business only services the local community available to you, use our services at Interparcel to broaden your scope. We offer services that ship throughout the UK, Europe and beyond and our couriers can collect straight from your door, so delivering a bulk shipment can be easy. While you are busy processing orders and communicating with customers you don't have time to be queueing at the post office. We can arrange a collection right from your doorstep, if you are working in a warehouse, an office or even in your spare room we can collect from any address in the UK.
DPD Local is one of the best small business shipping options as they collect directly from you to save you time. This way you can maintain your locally loved business and keep yourself and your customers safe.
Make sure to use your online platform to make local customers aware that your services are running with this service and let potential customers further afield know when they'll be able to order!
Communicate effectively with customers
During this uncertain time the population is engaging with media of all kinds at a significantly higher rate. Be it social media, news or emails, knowing what services are and aren't available is a vital resource to those self-isolating.
Now is the time when your customer service is at its most important. Anticipating your customers' questions will enable your business to seem functional and cooperative, allowing customers to trust your services or products are worth purchasing.
Being honest and upfront about delays also needn't be a detriment to this as most people will empathise with the situation that many small businesses have been facing.
Take time to advertise your small business
In this period of reduced movement and increased online activity, take advantage of this audience to advertise your small business effectively.
Pay some attention to social media
Let customers know how they can support your business and offer them promotional codes or offers to encourage them to do so. Building an organic following on social media can be hard, but with 73% of businesses marketing their products on social media and 54% of customers using it to research products, its worth a try.
Try setting up an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter (or even all three) for your online store and have a look at similar merchants to see how they've approached advertising online. Plus, you can always follow their followers' list as you know they're already interested in your niche!
Utilise email marketing
If your customers have registered their email addresses with you to complete their purchases you can create a mailing list so they can receive promotions or even a newsletter keeping them up-to-date with your brand! Try to create email sequences that can market your most popular items to your customers. Or advertise your reduced shipping costs now that you use our services! Test out different templates and versions to see which one gets the best response and continue to trial and error your marketing strategy.
A very effective way to advertise your brand and get noticed in a saturated online market is by providing packaging which looks impressive and well though-through. By creating a unique packaging experience your customer will better remember your brand and may be more likely to buy again to give your product as a gift. Plus, by incorporating layers of stylish packaging that doubles as contemporary fillers to keep products safe you can save money on additional materials to fulfill this protective role!
Create a blog with SEO in mind
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and works so that when people search for a certain product on google your business will come up for these keywords. Starting a blog can be very useful for this as you can write about your products and services as well as increase the visibility of your online shop.
It's a good idea to also SEO optimise your website and its immediate pages so that they each have the essential information customers need to know. Or why not expand the amount of platforms you currently sell on? Using multiple eCommerce sites like Etsy and eBay to sell products is a good way to increase sales. Selling on lots of eCommerce platforms can be made simple when you integrate your accounts with Interparcel. Our shipping manager can pull all of your orders and shipping addresses into one place and make shipping big orders from multiple sites easy!
We know this period of upheaval takes time to adjust to but keeping busy with improving your small business can be a useful distraction. If you feel like you need more information or extra help navigating this time, the Government has put in place financial relief measures and programs to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
At Interparcel we want you to feel supported and informed, so take this time to do as much as you can while staying safe and well. If you have any questions about our services or want updates on any COVID-19 related changes, you can contact us from 8 am – 8 pm Monday to Friday via live chat, email or telephone and even 9am-1pm at weekends too!