Your shipping process is an integral aspect of your business strategy. Documenting your shipping process can improve efficiency, operational agility, and customer satisfaction.
Why you should document your shipping process
Although documentation can be a little time-consuming, it is a powerful tool that can save you more time and resources than you put into it. Here are a few reasons you should document your shipping process:
- Proper documentation outlines your shipping strategy, ensuring smooth and reliable workings now and in the future.
- It reduces guesswork and acts as a quick reference guide you can keep returning to for clarifications on any step in your shipping process.
- Documentation streamlines your shipping process, increasing your business productivity and overall performance.
- It makes it easier to identify mistakes or discrepancies in past deliveries and make necessary adjustments to improve your processes.
- Should you or any member of your shipping staff be inevitably absent, documentation guides other staff members through the shipping process, ensuring that work continues interrupted.
The 3 main steps in documenting your shipping process
The main steps involved in documenting your shipping process are:
Decide on a documentation format
There’s no single correct way to document your shipping process. The right format is one that works for your business and is easily accessible and understandable. Examples of popular documentation formats include printed copies, soft copies (PDFs), and the use of third-party shipping documentation tools. Although printed copies work just fine for small businesses, this format is not the most easily accessible option. It requires you to manually search several documents for any information you need and lacks the flexibility to accommodate changes.
Soft copies are much more flexible than printed ones since they can be edited to reflect changes in your shipping processes. There are also several tools you can use to find specific details in the file without going through the entire document. Another advantage of soft copies is that they are easily transferable. In addition, you can send them to your staff members via email or upload them to your company’s wiki or intranet.
Third-party shipping documentation tools are software solutions specifically designed to assist business owners in documenting their logistics processes. They are packed with features that make it easy for companies to record their shipping procedures and retrieve documents instantly when required.
Establish what you are documenting
Once you’ve decided on a documentation format, the next step is to establish the documents’ content. Your decision should depend on your business’s unique needs and operations. Here are some suggestions on the things you can include in your shipping documents:
- The shipping supplies you use (boxes, envelopes, poly mailers, bubble wrap, packing tapes, air pillows, and others), information on where they are stored, when to restock more, and where to buy them
- Specific operational guidelines on how you handle shipping
- Daily shipping workflow and records of past deliveries
- Information on handling unexpected circumstances, such as the return of damaged packages, late pick-ups, etc.
- Who to contact when certain situations arise and the best way to reach them (via phone, email, and messaging apps)
Organize your documentation
Properly organizing your documentation makes it easy to use and understand. It helps your team make sense of the information in the shipping documents, irrespective of the format you used in creating them. Some tips to help you organize your logistics documentation include:
- Have a table of contents if a document is longer than a few pages to allow easy navigation
- Use bold headings to capture a reader’s attention and make the content more scannable
- Each section should begin with the most important information
- Include tables, bullet lists, and numbered lists on the documents to break up large blocks of text. This will emphasize information quickly and effectively
- Use tabbed separators or different colored paper to differentiate sections
Additional benefits of documenting
Documenting your shipping processes increases the quality of your order fulfillment service, which keeps customer satisfaction at optimal levels. By making your logistics process more consistent and predictable, documentation ensures that your customer’s expectations are met with every shipment you send. Remember that the happier your customers are, the more willing they will be to patronize your business. It also boosts efficiency by giving you and your employees a template for handling both regular and unique logistics situations.
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