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    How to Choose a Courier Service

    March 24, 2021

    When a customer orders a product from your business, the relationship between you and that customer hinges on a seamless delivery. You put a lot of trust in the hands of the delivery service you hire to transport your customer’s order, so it’s important to choose the right one.

    Choosing a courier service with the right qualities will strengthen your relationship with your clientele and boost your business short- and long-term. But do you know how to choose the best courier service for your business?

    What to Look for in a Courier Service

    Before hiring a courier service, you should compare different companies for how they’ll meet your business and customers’ needs. Keep the following factors in mind.

    1. Prices

    Considering price is essential when investigating different courier services. Do they offer rates that make sense for your business? Do they offer different pricing options for customers who need same-day delivery? Look for a delivery team that gives your customers options and saves you money down the road.

    2. Availability

    Is the courier service available to pick up and deliver your package as you need on an on-demand or recurring delivery basis? Many companies will work with you for delayed delivery, but if you need something picked up as soon as possible, you want to be sure the courier is prepared to accommodate that.

    3. Convenience

    Your time is valuable. As you browse courier services, pay attention to the ones with the most intuitive websites that make it easy to set up an account and talk with customer representatives if necessary. A good delivery team will make it as natural as possible for you to start using their services.

    4. Size or Material Limitations

    Not every fleet is built the same. Can the courier service adjust for the size of your products? Your larger orders may call for a whole dock truck, but if you’re selling smaller products, it may make more sense to use a smaller vehicle to skip traffic or a lengthy delivery list. Look for a fleet that can handle a wide range of deliveries.

    Material limitations can also come into play. If you have occasional or regular shipping that requires the company to follow certain HAZMAT regulations, it’s important to make sure they have those clearances. Shipping lab specimens and other medical equipment is one example.

    5. Tracking and Proof of Delivery

    Your customers will appreciate the ability to monitor their orders, so choose a courier service with tracking capabilities. This added perk goes a long way toward strengthening the relationship between your and your customers. For added security, look for a courier that will notify you when they’ve completed your customer’s delivery.

    6. Reputation

    Do a deep dive into each courier service’s reputation with the public. Are they known for making speedy deliveries? Do they have a courteous, professional team? Hire a courier service that will best represent your company.

    7. Delivery Radius

    Does the courier service deliver to your entire customer base? Some businesses may need national or global delivery services, while other local businesses may be better off with a local courier. Look into the areas different delivery teams cover to ensure they’ll reach as many of your customers as possible.

    Street Fleet: The Best Courier Service in Minnesota

    For reliable delivery services in the Twin Cities, trust Street Fleet Courier and Logistics to deliver your customer’s order on time any day of the week. Our fleet of dock trucks, vans, cars and bikes can handle orders of any size for a speedy delivery anywhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul. Give us a call at 612-623-9999 or create an account to connect your business with Street Fleet today!

    Best Shipping and Delivery Options for Small Businesses

    February 11, 2021

    best shipping and delivery options for small businesses
    As a small business owner, you’re bound to have a roll-up-your-sleeves and do-it-yourself attitude. When it comes to shipping products, however, it’s a good idea to outsource to a dedicated shipping company. Buyers today expect quick delivery of undamaged goods — this is the only way to ensure first-time customers become repeat customers.

    With so many third-party shipping options, it can seem overwhelming to decide on the best way to ship for a small business. Think about your business’s geographic scope, the speed at which you need products to ship, and the nature of your products. Then compare the different shipping methods for small businesses.

    How to Ship Products: What Is the Best Way to Ship Products for Small Businesses?

    If you’re wondering how to ship products to customers, here are a few popular methods. Each has its pros and cons, so consider several options for your business. Different methods are best depending on the size of products, the frequency of delivery needs and the shipping distance. For most local businesses with limited shipping-distance needs, a local courier will be the best choice.

    United States Postal Service (USPS)

    The USPS is an obvious option for domestic product shipping. They have direct access to mailboxes and post office boxes and offer decent pricing. This is a good option for a small business with only occasional shipping needs and lightweight products.

    However, the USPS is not the best option if your business ships products regularly, if you sell bulky or heavy products or if you want to offer expedited shipping. Priority Mail envelopes and boxes can take several days to arrive, and the USPS can take over a week to complete a delivery.

    National Delivery Companies

    A national carrier such as the United Parcel Service (UPS) or FedEx is likely less expensive than USPS for larger products. Keep in mind that UPS does not offer flat rate shipping, which would be a great benefit if your products vary in weight. However, UPS can also take a full week to deliver products, only transporting parcels on business days. FedEx offers flat rate shipping and slightly faster shipping speeds.

    If your products tend to be small, flat rates can actually inflate your shipping costs, so consider the sizes of your average products.

    Local Courier: Street Fleet

    For local shipping, a local courier is the best choice. With a local shipping company like Street Fleet, you’ll have your own account for placing delivery orders, which will take much of the stress of shipping out of your hands. In addition to on-demand delivery, you can order a scheduled delivery service to occur weekly, monthly or even hourly.

    You can also choose the right vehicle and shipping speed to fit your company’s needs. Only use a national delivery company if you need to ship overseas or across multiple state lines. Otherwise, a local courier is one of the best shipping options for small businesses.

    best shipping courier

    Which Shipping Carrier Is Best for You?

    When deciding how to ship for your small business, consider several factors. You should think about:

    • The dimensions and weight of your products: Do you sell dainty handmade jewelry or full-sized vacuum cleaners? The size of your products should make a difference in the shipping method you choose. Using a third-party shipping company can decrease expenses compared to completing deliveries with your own vehicles and employees — expenses like employee wages and vehicle maintenance will be out of your hands. However, shipping companies charge based on parcel size and weight, so heavier, bulkier products will be more expensive to ship.
    • The speed you want products delivered: In the era of same-day shipping, some shoppers have become less patient. Of course, the speed of your delivery will depend on the distance and method of transport, but you should think about how fast you want your products to ship when deciding on a carrier. The most economic, environmentally friendly and prompt delivery option for hyper-local shipping is a delivery service by bicycle.
    • The nature of your products: Think about the products you need to deliver. Are they hazardous or perishable? If so, this may increase the price of delivery. Since food items require insulated and secure packaging, you may face premium charges. For drugs and other sensitive medical supplies, you’ll need a delivery company with a dedicated medical services division.
    • The frequency of your shipping needs: If you have a storefront and only plan on shipping occasionally, you’ll probably prefer an on-demand delivery service. For an e-commerce business with regular shipping needs, it’s best to pair with a carrier that offers dedicated delivery services to act as a delivery branch for your business.
    • The required distance for deliveries: Think about where your customers can order from and how far you’re willing to deliver. The farther the delivery, the more expensive and time-consuming it will be. If you plan to ship internationally, you may not be able to promise extremely fast shipping. If you choose to ship overseas, keep in mind that shipping by air is much faster than shipping by water. Provide an honest estimated arrival date and time at checkout so customers will know when to expect their products.

    Best Shipping Service for Small Business: Street Fleet in Minnesota

    For businesses in Minnesota and surrounding states, there is no option better than Street Fleet. If you’re wondering how to ship products from your home business or local storefront, Street Fleet offers a wide variety of options tailored to your specifications.

    You can choose from several different shipping methods to ensure you get exactly what your business needs — the level of customization is much higher than what you’d find with a national chain. You can choose from delivery by bicycle, small car or truck. Whether you’re delivering an envelope or an entire pallet, Street Fleet has options for you.

    For the delivery of time-sensitive products like food items, our bicycle messengers are a uniquely effective option. When it comes to quick, local delivery, no method is faster than a bicycle. Or, if you need pharmaceuticals sent to a patient’s home, choose our specialized medical delivery service, which features certified HAZMAT handlers.

    No matter what you need to be delivered or where you need it to be, Street Fleet drivers are all professional, friendly and uniformed and excel at representing private labels. When you use a national delivery chain, you have no idea who your delivery driver will be or what kind of experience they will create for your customers.

    As you probably know if you’ve ever purchased something online, an irresponsible or unfriendly delivery driver can ruin the purchase experience for a customer. Meanwhile, a knowledgeable, courteous driver will elevate your customer’s impression of your brand by treating products with care. This will build your credibility and memorability.

    Additionally, when it comes to urgent deliveries, Street Fleet is the best choice. With over 300 drivers, we can accommodate urgency requests of under one hour, 90 minutes, two to three hours or same-day. Unlike most national delivery chains, our services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Small business product shipping

    Use Street Fleet for Your Small Business Product Shipping

    If you run a small, local business, delivery is likely a necessity at one point or another. Whether your business is primarily e-commerce or you’re just beginning to offer delivery, choose a service tailored to your specific needs. Only Street Fleet offers product shipping with so many customizable options, from vehicle type to urgency level to material expertise. Set up an account with Street Fleet today and start tracking your orders!

    How to Package and Ship Products

    Whether you’re an e-commerce store, a distributor or an independent creator, shipping products is an essential part of your business. Your customers expect their products to arrive on time and in good condition. On your end, that means you must package your products correctly to protect them during transit. Besides adding protection, packaging can add value to your brand and make receiving a package more fun with graphic designs or even a handwritten note.

    It’s also essential to prepare your products for shipment to customers. Using the proper labeling and working with the right carrier can help you save on your shipping costs and make sure everything arrives as expected. Check out our shipping guide for tips and advice on all your packing and shipping activities.

    packages on a front porch

    How to Package Products

    Knowing how to protect items when shipping requires thorough knowledge of product packaging. It involves designing and producing a visually appealing and protective container for your products, encompassing three parts. The product packaging contains the product itself and is usually branded. For example, if your product is perfume, the glass bottle with the branded label is the product packaging. The outer packaging protects the product during shipment. It’s often a rectangular cardboard box, flat shipping envelope or mailer bag.

    The inner packaging is everything that goes inside the outer packaging. You might ship a bundle of three perfumes in a decorative box branded to your company. The internal packaging also includes the packing materials, whether shredded paper, packing peanuts or bubble wrap. If you ship a business card or promotional coupon with the order, that is also part of the inner packaging.

    Before you package your products, it’s essential to evaluate them on three characteristics:

    • Weight: You’ll need packaging strong enough to hold whatever’s inside. Heavier items often need multilayered corrugation, while light items can ship in bags.
    • Size and shape: When packaging any product, the edges should not touch the outer packaging. Consider your product’s size and shape, and choose a box or mailer that is large enough for both the product and cushioning material.
    • Value and fragility: Valuables and breakables need extra protection in transit. The box should also have a label that says “fragile” and possibly an arrow pointing out which way to stow and handle the container.

    How to Package Small to Medium-Sized Products

    Most small businesses packing and shipping supplies and products have parcels that are considered small or medium. From candles to cosmetics to smartphones, many everyday consumer goods are easy to pack. Smaller products require fewer logistical considerations. Still, it’s critical to know how to protect small products during shipping. If your product can be considered small or even medium, follow these packaging tips for product containment and distribution:

    1. Choose Your Packaging Type

    Your package may pass through many different hands and pieces of equipment en route to its final destination. It’s crucial to select a packaging material that will protect your product and hold up during transport. For small products, you typically have three options:

    • Corrugated cardboard boxes: Cardboard is sturdy and lightweight, meaning it can protect your product without adding to your shipping weight. Out of all the products that get shipped, 90% are packed in cardboard because it’s considered safe.
    • Padded mailers: Padded mailers are generally for small, flat or delicate items. They’re excellent for jewelry, handmade items, books and electronics. They come with some built-in padding, which you can add to with some recycled paper or bubble wrap.
    • Shipping bags or envelopes: A polyurethane bag or plastic envelope is strong and lightweight. They’re also self-sealing, which can streamline packaging operations. Like mailers, they’re best for smaller items.

    2. Decide Whether to Customize

    For a budding e-commerce store or an independent crafter, custom packaging can differentiate your brand and give your products a boutique-like experience. A beautiful package can also give you some free advertising, as customers will enjoy posting unboxing videos on their social media feeds. Plus, 55% of online shoppers will come back to a website if their order arrives in customized packaging.

    If you choose to brand your packaging, you’ll need to work with a designer and packaging supplier. If you can’t customize your entire box, consider adding a few affordable packaging products to spruce up your deliveries. Other ways to brand your packaging might include a branded sticker, a handwritten note, a promotional insert, branded packing tape or even a free gift.

    packing protection spilling out of cardboard box

    3. Add Protective Filler

    When your products need to hold up during shipping, you need to know how to pack boxes for shipping with the appropriate type and amount of padding. The protective cushioning is crucial to protecting your small items during shipping. Wrap each item separately so they will not bump into one another inside the box.

    If the product is susceptible to moisture or dirt, put it inside a plastic bag for protection. Use at least 2 inches of cushioning around every side, and leave no empty space within the container. At the same time, avoid overstuffing it. Adding too much filler could cause the box or bag to burst during shipping. You can choose from both traditional and eco-friendly package fillers, including:

    • Tissue paper
    • Foam or cornstarch packing peanuts
    • Cardboard inserts
    • Crumpled, crinkle-cut or shredded paper
    • Polyurethane foam inserts
    • Air pillows
    • Bubble wrap

    4. Seal the Package

    If you’re using a polyurethane bag, it should come with an adhesive strip. Ensure your bag is completely sealed to prevent it from opening in transit. If your packaging doesn’t self-seal, use packing tape at least 2 inches wide and strong enough to contain whatever’s in your parcel. If sealing a box, use the H-taping method. This technique involves first sealing down the flaps and then the edges, so the tape creates an H pattern. Tape both the bottom and top seams of the box, and make sure the tape can adequately support any heavy items.

    5. Consider the Box-in-Box Method

    After wrapping up and sealing your small package, you might want to place it inside a larger box with more filler material. While most shipments won’t need this added protection, a fragile or valuable product will benefit from the extra layer.

    To use this method, first prepare your inner box. Your outer box should be large enough to contain the inner box plus a 2-inch buffer of filler. Next, fill the base of the outer box with filler material, like packing peanuts. Place your inner container inside, and then add the rest of the filler material until the internal packaging is surrounded. Then, seal up the outer box as you did the inner box.

    How to Package Large Products

    Whether you’re shipping a refrigerator, a mattress or something else, you’ll need to take some extra precautions when packaging heavy or oversized items. Your larger products need protection from vibrations, accidental drops and compression from stacking during storage.

    large products in a cardboard box

    1. Find the Right Materials

    A bag, envelope or padded mailer will be too small for your larger products. Instead, you’ll need a heavy-duty corrugated cardboard box. Look for one with several layers and seams that have been stitched or stapled rather than glued. Do not reuse an old box for a bulky item since you cannot guarantee its strength.

    2. Add Filler

    As with smaller products, larger items also need filler. However, when shipping heavy items, crumpled paper and lightweight cushioning won’t hold up. Instead, use engineered polystyrene foam shaped to house the product. Corrugated cardboard inserts can also cradle your item. As with smaller packages, aim for at least 2 inches of space on every side, so the product will not touch the box’s walls.

    The double box method is also recommended for larger, heavier items, whenever possible.

    3. Seal the Box

    As with smaller boxes, you’ll need to seal the box around every edge with tape. In this case, you’ll use a few layers of heavy-duty tape. A fiberglass-reinforced, water-activated tape can bond to the cardboard, ensuring your box stays sealed through the entire trip.

    4. Palletize if Needed

    Larger products often have additional shipping packaging, like a pallet. A shipping pallet lets your shipping carrier load and unload your product using material handling equipment such as forklifts. A large palletized product might be shrink-wrapped or stretch-wrapped, which provides cushioning during transit and holds everything together. A palletized product could also be strapped down or secured in another fashion.

    How to Pack Your Products for Shipping and Distribution

    When shipping products to a distributor and for placement in stores, you’ll need to consider different packaging requirements. If your customer is a distributor, they could have requirements specific to how they operate, industry regulations and minimum order requirements. As the packager, you’ll pack individual products into cases based on your distributor’s required weight and quantity. Then, you’ll pack cases into pallets.

    Your distributor will likely require specific pallet sizes and types to ensure it will fit their equipment. They will also set a maximum pallet height. Consider whether the distributor will be keeping the products stored in their inventory and what their storage conditions are.

    It’s crucial to understand your distribution network and how your product and outer packaging will be travel throughout the supply chain. To design safe containment systems that will last through handling, transport and storage, consider factors such as:

    • The type and size of pallet.
    • Pallet stacking or storage configuration.
    • Specifications for maximum and minimum pallet heights and load weights.
    • Whether pallet stacking will use slip sheets, layer sheets or caps.
    • Whether a palletized load will be secured using stretch wrap, shrink wrap, corner posts or straps.
    • What types of shipping containers will be used, such as trays, boxes, crates or bins.
    • Required material properties, such as moisture resistance and break strength.
    • What type of protective filler is needed.

    Considering every step in the shipping and distribution process and meeting every specification ensures your products will be protected and arrive at their final destinations in one piece. It will also help you avoid bottlenecks in the supply chain with packaging that fits in with existing warehousing and material handling methods.

    How to Ship Products

    Before you prepare your products for shipment, make sure they’re packed with the right shipping container, filler and a packing slip. Once you’ve decided how to pack your products for shipping, you can prepare for shipment. The finer details of your shipping preparations will depend on your chosen carrier’s shipping requirements. In general, the process will follow a few simple steps.

    How to Ship Small to Medium-Sized Items

    Once you’ve packed your small or medium items, you can prepare them for shipment. Follow these five e-commerce shipping tips.

    woman weighing box to ship

    1. Measure and Weigh Your Package

    Once your products are in their final layer of packaging, you can figure out your shipping dimensions and the total weight. First, measure the length, width and height of your package. Multiply the three dimensions, and divide the number by the dimensional cubic divisor requested by your chosen carrier. This figure represents your package’s dimensional weight, sometimes abbreviated to Dim weight.

    Next, weigh your package in pounds or ounces. In the logistics industry, this number is known as the package’s dead weight or actual weight.

    2. Calculate Your Shipping Rates and Compare Carriers

    Some shipping carriers will charge you by a package’s dimensional weight, meaning how much space it takes up in their truck. Other carriers might use your package’s dead weight. Still, others may take the larger of the two. Work with your carrier or a group of carriers you’re considering to calculate your shipping costs. You’ll provide the dimensional and actual weight alongside the origin and destination.

    While comparing costs is essential, remember to look at the level of service a carrier will provide. If you need to meet an aggressive delivery deadline, you need a carrier with a record for on-time performance and the flexibility to meet your needs.

    If shipping a small item locally, you might even choose a courier service that can deliver your item via bicycle or car. This impresses your customers, who receive their package on time, from the hands of a uniformed, professional representative. You also won’t pay for space in a large delivery van when a bicycle messenger can get there faster and more affordably.

    3. Book Your Carrier

    Once you’ve settled on a carrier whose prices and shipping guarantees make sense for your business, work with them to confirm your shipment. They’ll schedule your pickup and delivery or tell you where to bring your package.

    4. Label and Send Your Package

    Print out the shipping labels your carrier provides, and attach them to your packages using clear packing tape. Attach any other labels and stickers needed to transport your items safely. For example, you may need a special sticker if your product has a lithium battery or any hazmat materials. Then, you’re ready to send off your shipment.

    How to Ship Large, Heavy Items

    In some ways, shipping a large item isn’t much different from sending a small product. In general, you’ll follow the same process for how to ship heavy items. It starts with packaging the product, measuring it, calculating and comparing rates, booking your shipment and finally preparing it for pickup. However, when working with larger packages, your carrier may impose some more requirements. Your process will likely follow these three steps:

    1. Check Your Oversized Package Requirements

    Different carriers list different dimension and weight thresholds for packages to be considered oversized. Some carriers call a box oversized if it weighs more than 70 pounds or another weight threshold. Others will look at the package’s combined dimensions. For some carriers, anything over 130 inches will fit into the oversized category. As with small packages, you’ll need to measure and weigh your package to calculate your shipping rates.

    If your package is considered oversized with your chosen carrier, you may need to follow special requirements. For example, you might be required not to reuse a corrugated box and ensure it will hold a certain weight. When you prepare your product for shipment, you may need to add a special caution sticker indicating the package’s weight so your package will receive the attention it deserves.

    2. Review Shipping Options and Rates

    If your package falls into the oversized range for your chosen carrier, you’ll have to pay additional shipping costs. You may even have to discuss special rates with your carrier for extremely large shipments that fall outside of standard oversized dimensions. Carriers who specialize in small packages will take oversized packages for an added fee. Other providers will deliver your parcel, classifying it as a freight shipment instead of regular delivery.

    You can also choose a dedicated delivery service, like Street Fleet. With the dock trucks in our fleet, we can accommodate pallet-sized loads and get them delivered quickly. When shipping large items, it’s crucial to balance affordability with quality. Working with a courier ensures your products get delivered promptly by a uniformed driver. They’ll take the utmost care through the shipping process to prevent damage to your large, heavy and often valuable merchandise.

    3. Confirm and Prepare Your Shipment

    When you’re ready to proceed with a chosen carrier, you’ll book your order and follow your carrier’s instructions to prepare it for pickup or drop-off. Print out and attach your shipping labels and any required special labeling for your oversized packaging. Then, your package will be ready for the carrier.

    pile of cardboard boxes

    How to Ship Fragile Items

    If items arrive broken, you may have to worry about returns and potentially bad reviews and lost customers. That’s why it’s essential to know how to pack and ship fragile items. Most of the differences in your shipping approach have to do with packaging your fragile items. Pick the right size of box and wrap each item individually. Pack the items safely using at least 3 inches of cushioning as opposed to the usual 2 inches.

    As you prepare your items for shipment following all carrier requirements, make sure you put the shipping label on the largest surface. This helps ensure your package will stay upright during shipping, protecting its contents. Adding a “fragile” sticker to the box can also remind personnel to handle your parcel with care.

    Learn How Street Fleet Can Handle Your Business Deliveries

    As a courier and delivery provider based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, we can get your deliveries anywhere in Minnesota and the neighboring states. With a fleet that ranges from bikes to dock trucks, we can deliver anything from your smallest envelope to a truckload of pallets. We have the necessary experience and certifications to transport medical, hazmat and financial packages, so we can ship any package, no matter the size or contents. We also specialize in timely deliveries and logistics solutions, with services that include:

    • Same-day deliveries
    • Scheduled deliveries
    • Dedicated drivers
    • Immediate deliveries
    • Warehousing, cross-docking and distribution

    With our competitive rates and 24-hour, year-round availability, you can rely on us to provide the service quality you need. If we can help you with a one-time delivery or your regular business shipments, contact us online or dial 612-623-9999 to start making your arrangements. If you’re ready to ship, place your order online today.

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    February 11, 2021