6 Tips for managing your deliveries more effectively

Do you deal with high-volume orders, or do you run a business that requires sending out parcels or documents every day? Well, you probably do understand how hectic it can be managing deliveries. If you are a small business owner, how prepared are you when more orders start coming in, especially during peak seasons?

A survey done by Circuit showed that 40 percent of the respondents chose timely deliveries as the most important factor they consider during package deliveries. Another finding was that almost three-quarters (72.5%) of poor deliveries result in a customer likely to stop recommending the retailer. Poor deliveries put your business at risk of bad reviews and losing customers. So how do you create a smooth flowing delivery process for your products?

What does a smooth delivery process look like?

  • On-time deliveries

A delivery process will enable you to fulfill orders on time. Order fulfillment involves receiving, processing, and shipping orders to customers. So, if a customer sees value in your product, don’t you owe it to them, to deliver on time?

  • Happy customers

Selling high-quality products or having the best customer service is great, but all that might go to waste if you do not top it with efficient product delivery services.

  • Less pressure

When you have a smoothly running delivery process, you have no pressure of getting your products to your customers in a rush.

To develop a smooth product delivery process, you can take the following measures:

1. Implement an inventory system for product delivery  

If you deal with selling products, always know what you have in stock. Managing your inventory will help you to avoid running out of stock when the orders come in. There are a number of inventory control methods e.g. batch tracking, ABC analysis, FIFO, and LIFO.

Choosing the right inventory control method will depend on a variety of factors. For instance, if you deal with perishable goods like flowers or food stuff you could use the first in first out control method. Just from the name, it means that the first order to come in will be the first to go out.  This method will help you clear the older stock which is likely to become obsolete before the newer stock.

When managing your orders, you should also be able to track orders. Tracking orders will help you keep tabs on the stocks available, help you learn which stocks are running out and you will also be able to analyze your best-selling stocks.

Here are some ways to track your inventories:

  • Manual data entry

If you don’t deal with a lot of stock, a pen and paper will suffice for tracking orders.  However, this method can get messy and untidy since it isn’t like a computer where you can just delete.

  • Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are another option for tracking orders. Spreadsheets are a simple and flexible tool for tracking and managing inventory. Some free Inventory templates you could use to manage your inventory include:   

  1. Inventory Analysis template by Vend
  2. Inventory and Stock Management by Zervant
  3. Inventory Excel Template by Intuit Quickbooks
  4. Inventory Management Template from Excel Champs
  • Inventory Management Software

Apart from spreadsheets, you can also use inventory management software to track orders. Software programs provide more accurate inventory reports.

An example of a good inventory management software is Zoho inventory. Zoho Inventory is a free software that lets you add items, fulfill orders and view inventory from any device.

2.      Proper labeling

At ibuQa, one major cause of late deliveries as experienced by our riders is mislabeled packages. When you mislabel a package, it will go to the wrong destination and may take the rider sometime before getting it to the right destination. Bad labeling Is also time-consuming and often leads to failed or delayed deliveries. To avoid mislabelling products, you should always countercheck the information provided by the customer and the one you list on the package to ensure accuracy.  

3.      Implement a delivery strategy

A disorganized delivery strategy will cause issues during shipment.  Your strategy should also be flexible, to handle high-volume orders during peak periods. Plan on how deliveries will be handled- Have a systematic plan on how products will be packaged and shipped to customers. An important factor to consider when implementing a delivery strategy is the types of delivery services you can offer

There are four types of delivery services:

Urgent deliveries

These are goods that need to be delivered instantly. These are deliveries that are picked up in an hour and delivered to the direct location. Urgent deliveries will not provide you with enough time to properly plan for delivery. The goods are given the highest priority and that is why these deliveries always cost more to deliver such products. 

Express 

Express deliveries are mostly delivered in a span of 2-3 hours. They are also considered urgent deliveries as you will do not get adequate time to efficiently plan the delivery. 

Same day  

Same-day deliveries are normally before 5 pm. An example of a business offering same-day deliveries is QuickMart supermarket. When you purchase a product at QuickMart before 12 pm, the product is delivered to you on the same day.  

Next day  

Next-day deliveries mean that the products will be delivered to the customers a day after the order was placed. Many Instagram shops use this form of delivery. It allows business owners to organize the delivery process, and route plan which benefits the customer since it is the cheapest method. 

Some of the factors to consider include:

  • Will you offer a cash-on-delivery option and how will that be handled?
  • Who are your riders?
  • What days will the products be packed and shipped?

      4. Organized warehouse

A well-arranged warehouse will help you find and retrieve products easily. It will help you know the exact location of each item in your warehouse. Your storage space should also be big enough to accommodate all your goods and prevent damage.

Tips for organizing your warehouse

  • Keep best/highest selling products to the front for easier retrieval.
  • If dealing with fragile goods, avoid piling them up to prevent damage.
  • Be smart with labels- Have various labels (color coding) for different columns as it will reduce location confusion. You should also ensure to replace labels regularly to avoid losing the arrangement of information.
  • When dealing with goods of different sizes, you can arrange the products according to size to avoid the smaller products from being misplaced.
  • Stack at the right height- Products should be within staff reach for easier retrieval and safety purposes.
  • Clean your warehouse regularly- A clean warehouse will reduce dust and can even keep rodents like rats at bay.

This is an example of an organized warehouse. Some products are not piled up (can be fragile), it’s spacious, clearly labelled and very clean.

5.      Route planning 

During deliveries, a route plan will maximize the utilization of the company’s vehicles and will reduce the cost used on each delivery. Before a product is sent out for delivery, research, and plan on the best routes to use.

For further clarification on route planning, we spoke with Gladys Macharia a member of ibuQa’s operations team. She stated that for an effective route plan, you must learn how to ‘kill a couple of birds with one stone’. For example, if your rider is delivering a product to Roysambu, Thika rd. and you also have delivery in Nairobi CBD, this can be one trip. If the product is coming from Lang’ata rd, the driver can drop the first product in the CBD and then proceed to Roysambu. However, route planning will also depend on product delivery urgency. Don’t keep a customer urgently waiting for a product just because your rider is delivering products along the way.

Lack of a clear route plan will inconvenience your drivers and will also result in spending too much on costs like fuel. A site you can use for route planning is Google maps. If you put several locations on Google Maps, the site can give you the shortest routes to use.

Photo from Google Maps

From the example above, this picture shows fastesr routes your rider can use when delivering the first product to Roysambu.

Other route planning software include Badger Maps, RouteXL and MapQuest.

6.      Updating your customers

Communication with customers helps to build trust. You can implement a system that allows you to update customers on delivery stages. A system that provides information on when the product shipping will commence and when it arrives at the pick-up point. The circuit report also showed that “Over half (54%) of those who order online chose text messages as their preferred communication method. This was followed by email at 29%”. Of course, you can’t just send single messages to every customer that is time-consuming and expensive. To send bulk SMS in Kenya you can look at sites like Africa’s talking.  Africa’s talking charges 0.8 shillings for a message with 160 characters. Your delivery status update can contain information such as the order number, estimated delivery time, and a link to enable customers to track their deliveries.

6.      Having a reliable logistics partner  

When you are running an online business, you need a reliable logistics provider. These days you don’t even need to lift a muscle to do a delivery. Just a few phone clicks and your package is on its way to its destination. But you should ensure that you do trust and depend on your logistics company to handle your deliveries efficiently.

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