Overcoming shipping hassles
Ryan Higginson, Vice President Global SMB Solutions, Pitney Bowes, offers advice on how companies can free up resources by reducing the amount of time they spend on tasks like manual shipping. Ask a business owner their biggest barrier to success, and chances are “Finding enough hours in the day to achieve what I need to do” will feature near the top of the list. Time is the most precious of resources and must be spent wisely, so it’s not hard to understand the frustrations businesses large and small have when they need to spend time on tasks which take them away from their core business focus.
Administration is one such task. In fact, research reveals that business owners feel time spent on administration isn’t just frustrating but actually hinders growth. A study1 from the FSB found that 55% of small business owners feel their company’s growth is being held back by the amount of time they have to dedicate to business administration. 67% of smaller businesses feel that administration prevents them from focusing on their business’ primary purpose.
Conversations with our clients are consistent with this, many of whom are looking for ways to reduce cumbersome, manual administrative tasks, such as manual shipping. Parcel shipping continues to increase in volume: Pitney Bowes’ Parcel Shipping Index2, drawing research from 12 major markets including the UK, France, Germany, the U.S. and Canada, forecasts parcel shipping volume to grow 20% by 2018.
For the UK specifically, research by PWC on behalf of Royal Mail is consistent with these findings. In its report ‘Outlook for UK Mail Volumes to 2023’, it forecast the UK parcel market to reach 2.3 billion by 2023, up from 1.3 billion in 2005. This growth in parcel volumes is expected to continue, with business-to-business parcel volume expected to grow at a steady 2-4% p.a. CAGR by 20233.
Alongside this increase in shipping volume comes greater pressure for businesses to get on top of their shipping operations, and seek value and efficiency. Without an effective shipping strategy, small business’ administrative tasks will only increase and become a burden. A group of small businesses we spoke to highlighted this. They identified a host of administrative tasks which they found to be cumbersome when it came to manual shipping. Those most often cited as annoying were:
- filling out forms, manifests and other documents
- measuring a package for accurate dimensions and
- getting an accurate weight for a package
- figuring out cross-border duty, custom forms and import fees
- finding the right supplies for the carrier – boxes, labels and tapes, for example
Others included filling out sender and recipient addresses from multiple sources; paying for the parcel being sent; trying to make the packages look professional; coordinating/waiting for the packages that must be picked up/dropped off for multiple carriers; printing the required labels; and confirming or validating an address before sending a shipment.
The sheer quantity and variety of these shipping-related administrative tasks validate the need for a smart solution. Many small businesses are already shipping smarter, using advanced digital platforms to streamline the management of physical shipping requirements. No longer do they have to race around their offices, trying to find the right, professional-looking packaging and dash to the post office before it closes. Instead, they are removing the guesswork and administrative burden and managing their shipping, tracking and receiving from their desktops. Overnight shipments and overseas parcels are no longer a hassle.
For these businesses, the integration of digital and physical drives transformation. It eliminates administrative burdens. It increases the accuracy and precision of mailing. It delivers value. And it buys time – the most precious commodity a small business has.
1Source: research from the FSB
2Source: Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index