U.S. e-commerce revenue is about $423.3 billion and is steadily climbing. Whether it’s full truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL), or parcel, carriers are being forced to adjust to changes in the retail industry. As a result, there are growing opportunities to invest in the industry or even start your own shipping business. Sure, you may not become the next Amazon, but you can at least help to level the economic playing field by encouraging small business growth. If you’re interested in starting your own shipping business, here are just a few tips that can help you get started.
Decide on Transportation Type
First, you’ll have to decide on the type of delivery service you want to run — this includes transportation type as well as package type. Keep in mind that as more and more ships deliver goods across the globe, it’s not surprising that the international shipping industry carries around 90% of world trade, according to the International Chamber of Shipping. But whichever mode of transportation you want to work with, you’ll also have to decide on the type of goods you want to carry:
“In the shipping industry, goods are lumped into categories and your startup shipping business cannot handle all these categories at once. There are perishable goods, dangerous goods, hazardous goods and much more,” Nicholas Dutko, founder of Car Shipping Carriers, told Entrepreneur. “Take your time to understand all these categories and choose the specific category of goods your shipping company will be handling. As your business grows, you can expand your services to other categories. But at the onset, keep things small and manageable.”
Prioritize Customer Service
In order to prioritize customer service and overall support, you’ll have to ensure accuracy and attention to detail through every step of the way. Many times, small business owners can benefit from working in a virtual office, which can provide the on-demand use (hourly, daily or weekly) of conference rooms and offices for meetings. Building brand reputation is one major part of making your customers feel secure and in good hands, and establishing a professional environment to conduct business is an integral part of the overall process.
Of course, you’ll also have to give your business a good reputation by investing in the technology required for optimal everyday efficiency and performance. Up to 80% of IT budgets are used for routine maintenance, but it’s easier than you think to take advantage of freight broker software and other cloud computing solutions that are intuitive and efficient.
It’s understandable that you have limited funds when your business is first getting off the ground. That’s why it’s important to take your marketing and brand-building efforts one step at a time. First, cover the basics — invest in a creative logo for business cards, invoices, letterheads, and shipping labels. From there, you can start to develop a website with contact information and an explanation of basic services. Experts also recommend focusing marketing efforts on brick and mortar buildings — law offices, hospitals, and local government offices are just a few of the countless business types that will inevitably need some form of shipping services. Just make sure you’re prepared to discuss financial logistics.
Afterward, you can expand your digital marketing efforts by advertising with Google Ads, making a professional page on other social media outlets like Facebook, and of course, responding diligently to any and all inquiries across the board.
As is the case with most small business ventures, starting your own shipping company is no small task. It requires commitment, attention to detail, organization, and of course, a good work ethic. But understanding these tips can help your business hit the ground running as you get yourself established as a reputable shipper.