Shipping Logistics: A Beginner’s Guide & How to Optimize the Shipping Process?

Online shopping isn’t new, but the number of businesses opening e-commerce stores and consumers shopping online has increased dramatically since the pandemic. Globally, there were 2.14 billion digital consumers as of 2021. That’s 27.6% of the global population of 7.74 billion. More than one out of every four people you encounter shops online.

According to Morgan Stanley, the e-commerce market is forecast to grow from $3.3 trillion to $5.4 trillion by 2026. While the e-commerce and logistics industry is booming, delivering a memorable brand experience has become more challenging.

As a result, investing in shipping logistics management or supply chain management for better customer experience with lower costs is crucial. Here, we will discuss the definition of shipping logistics and how to optimize your shipping process.

What Do You Mean By Shipping Logistics?

Shipping logistics is an integral part of any supply chain. It encompasses all the activities necessary to move finished items through your supply chain, from first-mile deliveries to final customer shipments. 

Shipping logistics depend on several factors, including carrier alliances and freight transportation. You’ll also need to consider procurement logistics, which involves getting the right products at the right time and price. Regarding shipping logistics, the distance between where you keep your goods (distribution centers) and where most of your customers reside is essential.

Types of Shipping Logistics 

You must understand shipping logistics if you’re an operations manager, which means you are in charge of a business. There are mainly three types of shipping logistics: 

There are three main types: 

  1. Inbound shipping logistics
  2. Outbound shipping logistics
  3. Reverse shipping logistics

Each has a specific role to play in shipping logistics management. It’s not always easy to track what’s happening in your supply chain, especially if you have a lot of products being produced or sold.

The warehouse management system controls the entire supply chain process from the fulfillment center to the customer’s address. In other words, it involves organizing and carrying out procedures to deliver products and services to your clients from the point of production. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at each type of logistics and how they influence overall logistics operations.

1. Inbound logistics

Inbound logistics means all the activities involved in receiving goods or materials at a company’s facilities. For example, a company that manufactures products may need to receive raw materials from suppliers or finished goods from another company.

2. Outbound logistics

Outbound logistics refers to all the activities involved in shipping goods or materials out of a company’s facilities. For example, if a company that manufactures products ships its finished goods to retailers and wholesalers, this activity would fall under outbound logistics.

3. Reverse logistics

Reverse logistics involves receiving returned goods or materials back into a company’s facilities after being used by customers or sold by retailers/wholesalers. It covers everything from collecting returned items at retail stores to inspecting them for damage before they are sold on auction sites.

Shipping vs. Logistics 

You’re probably familiar with both shipping and logistics, but little you may know about their differences. Shipping is the transportation of goods and/or materials between locations, while logistics is a broader term that is an overall process of managing an extensive operation. 

So, of course, while shipping is restricted to goods transportation, logistics could be used in hospitals to manage patients or pharmaceutical delivery to get medicines delivered.

How Can You Optimize Your Shipping Process? 

Abandoned carts are a huge problem for the shipping industry and the companies that sell online. 

50% of customers who add an item to their shopping cart will abandon it if the appropriate delivery options aren’t available. You’re losing a lot of potential business there! Many factors contribute to this problem—rising freight costs, disrupted supply chains, and expanding competition.

Regardless of the cause, the solution remains the same: understand customer expectations and optimize your shipping process to run a successful business. Here are steps to optimize your shipping process.

1. Create your shipping regulations

Your clients should be able to find information about delivery options quickly. It is essential that your e-commerce shipping workflow runs smoothly and allows you to keep your promises. 

For example, it is better not to offer fast international shipments if you have not already turned to a reliable carrier. Another example is free shipping; you should always check that it does not cost you much due to surcharges and unexpected carrier rates.

2. Inventory management 

Inventory management for shipping logistics

Have you ever wondered why customers are happy to wait a week for shipped items to arrive but will get annoyed if it’s only two days late? Customers expect the shipped items to arrive on time when they place an order. And when it doesn’t, that can be a big problem.

Your shipping logistics are strongly impacted by how you distribute your product. By holding your products in multiple fulfillment centers for your customers, a distributed inventory strategy enables you to cut down on shipping expenses and transit times.

Inventory distribution makes ground shipping operations the most efficient way to ship products to their destinations.

3. Select the right carrier

As a business owner, you know how important it is to get your products to customers quickly. Major shipping services, including USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, have their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, these are making it difficult for companies to choose a shipping carrier for order fulfillment.

One of the first things you need to do is figure out what type of customer you have. Some customers are willing to wait longer for delivery in exchange for lower prices, while others want their products delivered as soon as possible at any cost. 

Once you have figured it out, choosing a shipping carrier that matches the needs of your company and your customer base will be easier.

4. Enable multiple shipping options 

With the rise of e-commerce and the increasingly hectic lifestyles of modern consumers, it’s more important than ever to offer a variety of shipping choices during checkout. A State of Shipping Report 2022 revealed that 62% of shoppers expect their free shipping orders to arrive within three business days. 

Modern customers want to receive their orders quickly, and they want them to arrive in a flash so they can return to their hectic lives. Therefore, you need to consider this step in order to optimize the shipping process. 

This would allow customers a stress-free existence and a hectic way of life. You deliver shipments that arrive instantly at the final destination.

5. Send real-time notifications

When a customer places an order, you want to be sure that they are always informed about the status of their shipment, whether it’s a delay or a change in the delivery date. 

This way, they can rest assured that their package will arrive when it’s supposed to and that you are taking care of the shipping process for them. By sending notifications, you will get:

  • Fewer hassles about managing shipments
  • fewer complaints from customers who haven’t received their shipped packages on time, 
  • Extra time to participate in business strategy and analyze driver performance.

Organize Your Shipping Routes on Upper

Let Upper tackle the inefficiencies of adding addresses manually. And get the best route combinations for your multi-delivery routing.

What Are The Challenges Of Shipping Logistics? 

Shipping logistics management can be a challenge if it’s not done in the right way. As markets become more dynamic and supply chains become longer and more complex, competitors are increasingly everywhere. 

74% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to buy solely based on their experiences.

Developing a solid shipping logistics strategy requires a lot of consideration of shipping needs. It is challenging because the rise of on-demand logistics influences many changes within a typical eCommerce supply chain.

While handling shipping logistics, you will encounter the following challenges:

1. Finding delivery routes manually

Manually choosing delivery routes can be time-consuming and stressful. Not only do you have to take the time to plan out each route, but you also need to decide which packages go where. This means hours of decision-making, which can easily delay your shipments and cause you to miss deadlines.

2. Less chance of timely deliveries

As a business owner, you’re responsible for ensuring that your customers receive their deliveries on time. Delayed delivery is terrible for your business because it annoys customers and makes them less likely to purchase from you again.

Late delivery disappoints customers, and that’s not good for your business. As a result, they will be less likely to return to you again.

3. More attempted delivery

Delivery failure is one of the biggest challenges in shipping logistics solutions. You might not be able to deliver the shipment because of the customer’s unavailability, but it costs you more as a business.

You may encounter this issue when your customer’s address is incomplete or incorrect or when you do not have their phone number. It can also happen when bad weather prevents you from getting to the delivery address.

4. Difficult to deal with increased demands

Difficult to deal with increased demands

One of the major challenges in managing shipping orders is fulfilling demand surges. Do not expect the demand to be stable; it’s bound to fluctuate (with seasons). Not being prepared means you will have to hire or spend more time and money on manual resource planning each time there’s a surge in demand. And a business meaning to be successful can’t afford that.

Optimize Your Shipping And Logistics Service With Upper 

Whether you run a small business or large-size delivery services, Upper can help you improve the efficiency of your daily delivery operations.

Upper’s route planning and optimization software is excellent for shipping logistics management and can take the stress out of route planning. With Upper, businesses like yours save 10 hours per week, improve efficiency, and get more deliveries done on time.

  • With Upper’s optimized delivery routes, you will consistently deliver your shipments on time and eliminate all delayed deliveries. The route planning and optimization software helps your drivers with the shortest routes per their specific delivery constraints, such as driving preferences, time windows, and more.
  • The dispatcher can assign a priority level of low, medium, or high to your shipments to ensure urgent and time-sensitive shipments never get delayed. For your drivers to handle their work more effectively, you may add several stops and details like service time, priorities, or other notes.
  • Reduced failed deliveries as Upper notifies customers of their delivery’s ETA, so your drivers don’t have to visit the same customers multiple times. Customers will be present at the location because they have been informed and are expecting the delivery. 
  • Upper helps you effectively deal with surges in demand. With its efficient route planning and optimization, your drivers will deliver more, thereby accommodating more deliveries daily. More space and time for deliveries mean you don’t have to hire more resources, do manual resource planning, or make your drivers work overtime to fulfill more deliveries. 

You’ll, thus, be able to deal with demand fluctuations more easily. Sign up for Upper Route Planner’s 7-day free trial today.

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FAQs

The main difference between shipping and logistics operations is the size and scope of their respective operations. Shipping involves the movement of goods, while logistics deals with managing the entire extensive operation.

 There are three major categories of logistics: 

  1. Inbound, 
  2. Outbound
  3. Reverse logistics

Shipping logistics refers to all logistics processes involved in moving your shipments from the point of origin that is distribution centers to the destination. It includes procurement, warehousing, packaging, customs brokerage, shipping service, transportation management, and scheduling.

Conclusion 

With more and more people shopping online, it’s essential to have a shipping logistics management and supply chain management strategy in place. Successful shipping logistics providers (including third-party logistics) meet customer expectations and reduce shipping costs, thereby improving the logistics industry.

The customer’s delivery experience is just as necessary as the product they purchase. If you don’t provide them with a good experience, they won’t return to your store.

But, you can turn the tables using the Upper Route Planner and make shipping logistics management hassle-free. A route planner can help you deliver on time so that your customers are satisfied and you achieve desired business productivity.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

https://www.upperinc.com/guides/shipping-logistics/