4 Best Practices for Shipping Food
Whether your business is big or small, having a good shipping method is key for ensuring that your delivery portion of the business prospers. In this day and age of Amazon and online shopping, more people than ever are ordering products at home rather than spend time going out to the store. The same goes for food.
If you’re a restaurant, bakery, or other food business, offering delivery services can greatly expand your business both locally and remotely. Before you can start shipping food, though, you need to come up with a system that is practical, cost effective, and keeps your food safe.
Designing Your Packaging
The most important aspect of shipping food is designing the packaging it will be shipped in. Not only do you need to keep your food cool and safe, you also should select the optimum sizing of your shipping boxes to cut down on costs.
First and foremost, create/find boxes that are durable and will keep your food in place. In addition to the outer box, you will probably need inner shipping materials to keep your food products placed firmly inside and protected.
Try to find boxes that fit around your products as snuggly as possible. Shippers usually charge based on the “dimensional weight” of a product rather than its actual weight, taking into account the amount of space it will take up. So, just sheering off a few inches of unused space can save you a good deal of money.
Keeping Your Perishables Cool
If you’re shipping perishables or other products that must be kept cool, you’ll need to take methods of cooling into account. Depending on the product and how far it’s to be shipped, you may want to consider using either ice packs or dry ice. (Note: most shippers require that you specify a package contains dry ice for shipping and storage purposes.)
Many businesses also choose to use polystyrene, a compound used to make different foams and insulating products.
Test, Test, Test!
Once you think you’ve hit a winning packaging method, test it out. A great way to do this is to ship a food order from one branch to the branch that’s farthest away, or perhaps a supplier, and then request that they send it back. After the package is returned, open it and check it for quality.
This will not only allow you to check that the packing will get it to its destination safely, but also that it is able to maintain the proper temperature. You should test each individual food product and shipping method before offering it for delivery.
Choosing a Shipping Method
Choosing the right shipper can save you a great deal of money in the long run. A general rule of thumb is to use FedEx for overnight deliveries and UPS for longer-term shipping, though you’ll want to check the specific rates in your area.
Covering the Costs of Shipping
Shipping can quickly become a very pricey endeavor. While you can charge your customers for shipping, if you exceed $5 for shipping and handling fees you may quickly lose a customer. Luckily, there are a few great ways to distribute the costs of shipping so that you’ll retain customers at little cost to yourself.
Slightly Increase Individual Pricing
One way to cover shipping costs is to actually increase the individual prices of the items being shipped. While a customer may not want to pay a huge fee for shipping, whether your pound cake is $11 or $13 will make little difference.
Charge the Same for Shipping Locally and Remote
Another way to make up for shipping processes is to standardize shipping prices whether the order is local or remote. Ground shipping typically costs much less than products that need to be shipped farther, so by charging the same all around you can retain low prices without losing money.
A Few Last Tips
Now that your shipping system is all set up and ready to go, make sure that it’s organized. A great way of doing this is by establishing a system of labels—what it is, where it’s going, how it’s being cooled, etc.
Once you have all this in place, your delivery business will take off and thrive.