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4 tips for optimizing freight and package management

A UPS driver scans a package in a warehouse

If you're a small business owner, it's easy to feel stressed about order fulfillment and how to ship and track your packages.

Will your customers get their packages on time? What qualifies as less-than-truckload (LTL) freight? And how long does standard shipping take?

Whether it's your busy season or any other time of the year, it's way too easy to get frustrated and confused about how to ship a package and track it to its destination. Prevent shipping and tracking stress by taking a look at the most efficient ways to ship and track your freight and packages.

Choose the right shipping method

Not sure about the best way to ship your package? The best option depends on what and how much you're shipping, where it's going and how quickly it needs to get there.

Domestic shipping services may be best for individual parcels heading to individual consumers. These services are available based on the delivery schedule you need, with air service for next business day or two-day delivery and ground service for less time-sensitive shipments.

Meanwhile, freight shipping involves moving larger quantities of raw materials or products from one location to another and is either less-than-truckload (LTL) or full-truckload (FTL) freight. Both LTL and FTL are intended for regional, interregional, long-haul domestic and cross-border needs.

Track your shipment

Tracking technology has blossomed over the past few years, making it easier than ever to get realistic shipping expectations and to check the progress of your shipment from day to day.

Want to keep close tabs on your shipment? First, be sure to capture the tracking data, including all pertinent tracking numbers for parcel shipments and PRO numbers for freight shipments. When a UPS® tracking number or PRO number has been assigned to your shipment, you can track the current location and estimated arrival date by entering your numbers on the UPS home page. If you're using a UPS shipping system such as WorldShip® or UPS CampusShip® technology, you can also opt to have email or text notifications delivered to the recipient and to yourself.

If you need to access parcel tracking on the go, look no further than your smartphone. Track your package with the UPS Mobile app, which you can also use to find the nearest UPS location, create new shipments and get rate and transit quotes.

Don't stop at efficient tracking. Find more time to focus on your big ideas with UPS Small Business Services.

Be prepared for time-sensitive and seasonal shipping

Beyond looking after the safety and delivery of individual packages, there's a lot you can do at the business level to help ensure shipping goes smoothly during periods of high volume and when you have a shipment that needs to be delivered at a specific time.

First, evaluate your production schedule and product release dates. If you've developed a new product that will be ready to hit store shelves just in time for the holidays, ensuring that product is delivered as quickly as possible can be critical to the success of your holiday season.

Or maybe one of your customers has an urgent need for your product and insists on after-hours, weekend or holiday delivery. In these cases, you can look into UPS Express Critical® service which is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

UPS Freight® LTL urgent services offer a seamless, multimodal transportation network to help ensure your LTL shipments get where they need to be.

Invest in your returns policy

Simple and low-cost (or free) return policies can have a powerful impact on customer buying behavior. In fact, 68 percent of shoppers say that where they shop is influenced by flexible or free return policies, and 35 percent of online shoppers cite having to pay for return shipping as the top concern when returning an online purchase. Think through this process as soon as you can and put together a flexible or free returns policy with UPS Returns® Manager.

Returns stressing you out? Learn how to troubleshoot your retail returns policy.

From order fulfillment to LTL freight tracking, UPS can help you learn how to ship and track your package so you can invest your time in what's more important: surprising and delighting your customers with efficient, timely and low-cost shipping options.

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