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Four Tips for Small Business Shipping in Uncertain Times

Two small business owners packing and shipping their products

As a small business owner, you need all the help available during this challenging period—and that includes support with your small business shipping and tracking.

Here are four ways in which UPS My Choice® for business, the free visibility tool for small business shippers and receivers, strengthens your shipping operations at a time when you need it most. 

1. Easily Redirect Your Inbound Packages

Perhaps you need to shut your doors to run an errand, or you close up shop temporarily in response to local orders. It’s not always clear where you will be at a given time.

Whatever your circumstances, visibility of incoming shipments—knowing where your packages are in transit and when they’re due to arrive—is key to organizing your schedule. “Inbound visibility is such an important part of helping you control and manage your deliveries,” says Melanie Alavi, UPS director of customer technology marketing, speaking at a UPS webinar on resources available to small businesses responding to the pandemic.

Whether your business is only inconsistently open or not open at all right now, there will be times when it makes sense to reroute a delivery to an alternate address. The UPS My Choice for business tool allows you to redirect and reschedule inbound shipments as needed. Select from a range of delivery change options, including:

-Redirect your delivery to a The UPS Store® location

-Reroute to another address, such as your home or an employee’s residence

-Collect at a UPS customer center

-Keep the same delivery address but reschedule the shipment for a later date (up to 14 days later)

-Have UPS hold the package for up to 14 days

-Return to sender

As Joe Rayburn, UPS senior manager for customer technology, put it during the webinar: "In a time like this when we're dealing with a global health crisis, it’s important to have an understanding of when your shipment is going to get delivered. That way, you can maintain some level of functional operation and redirect to another address if needed."

By the way, any business customer that signs up for a UPS account and indicates the account is for business purposes is automatically enrolled in the UPS My Choice for business program.

2. Plan Your Perfect Level of Staffing

Avoid hassle and delay by scheduling the appropriate level of staffing in preparation for an inbound shipment.

This is particularly helpful when a large shipment is due to arrive and you need all hands on deck. The UPS My Choice for business tool provides estimated delivery windows for your incoming packages alongside related information about your inbound volume.

Customers point out that with offices temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, this service means they can be on site at specific times. They aren’t forced to stay all day wondering when packages will arrive.

For added convenience, enable email notifications within the UPS My Choice for business tool and get the information you need delivered straight to your inbox. Within the program you have the option to:

  • Activate email notifications for day before and day of delivery. A pre-arrival notification for deliveries that are imminent is in nationwide rollout.
  • Add multiple users and share visibility into inbound shipments across your team.
  • Customize your notifications so you receive the right amount of information on a shipment-by-shipment basis.

Inbound visibility may even make the difference between fulfilling a customer order and losing a sale. By knowing when goods are due to arrive, you can confidently sell against inventory that’s in transit—which is good for during these challenging times.

“Don’t underestimate how much of an impact taking control of your supply chain can have on your organization,” says Rayburn.

3. Improve Your Customer Service on Outbound Shipments

Many small businesses remain relatively new to selling online. For those still finding their digital sea legs, ramping up small business shipping may seem daunting. Capturing an e-commerce sale is one thing; you then need to fulfill the order.

It’s true that e-commerce shipping comes with many moving parts, including tracking. In today’s increasingly digital world, customers expect companies to communicate proactively about the status of their orders, says Alavi. While timely communication builds trust and encourages repeat business, failure to communicate contributes to frustration and damages the prospect of future sales.

Here’s how you can take charge: In the outbound view of the UPS My Choice for business dashboard, access the information you need to keep your customers informed. The tool’s outbound visibility features will help you keep tabs on shipments and communicate confidently with your customers.

Pro tip: Add multiple users to your outbound dashboard and share tracking information across your team.

4. Stay Ahead of Outbound Shipment Changes

Shipment delivery schedules may change for many reasons, and no more so than during a period of prolonged uncertainty.

When change does happen, the most important thing is to quickly communicate the relevant information to your customer. Let’s be frank, burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best is not an effective response.

Again, the outbound view in the UPS My Choice for business tool comes to the rescue. Use it to stay informed of delivery changes when they come up. Within the dashboard, you can also review details of any special delivery instructions related to the shipment, such as collect on delivery or signature required. Give your customer a heads-up and save on unwanted surprises down the line.

Always Improving

UPS My Choice for business is fully designed with the small business owner in mind. The free visibility tool offers excellent search functionality together with an extensive library of how-to videos and related resources.

Launched in 2019, this small business solution continues to evolve in response to customer needs. New features are added regularly, Rayburn says.

"It's really about taking control of your inbound and outbound volume through the functionality built into this service to keep your business operating, and your customers informed, in this challenging time.”

Interested in learning more? Watch the webinar and see how the UPS My Choice for business tool paves the way for small business shipping success - now and into the future.

Watch Now

Find Out More

  • Expand your Options with the UPS Access Point Network

    Receive packages at secure locations around the world, and right in your neighborhood.   

    Learn more about the UPS Access Point™ Network
  • Manage Inbound and Outbound Shipments Like a Pro

    View and manage inbound and outbound shipments with interactive dashboards, delivery alerts and estimated delivery windows, with UPS My Choice® for business. 

    Sign up for UPS My Choice for business
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