How To Ship Large Items From Home

Shipping large items

When you’ve got large or heavy items to ship, either for yourself or someone else, sticking them in a suitcase or popping down to your local post office is not an option.

For these larger items, you’re going to need the services of a professional shipping provider like us.

But if you’ve never had to do this before, you may not have a good understanding of what you can ship and how to do it.

If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how to ship large items from your home, so you can quickly and easily get your goods to the chosen destination.

Read on to find out more.

The different types of large items you may need to ship

When we talk about shipping large items in this way, we’re not usually referring to shipping large items that have been sold. However, that’s not to say you can’t use a shipping service for that kind of business.

But for the most part, these shipping services are likely to be used for things like moving house, studying abroad, going on a longer trip or simply just going on holiday as a big family with loads of bags.

Some examples of large items we ship include furniture up to 70kg and appliances or even garden equipment. You might also be shipping sporting gear for a holiday or event, such as surfboards, snowboards, skis, golf clubs or possibly a bike.

Finally, you may just have heavy suitcases up to 30kg or a large number of cases because you’re going on a big holiday or moving house. Whatever your reason for shipping large goods, a trusted shipping service can offer the best possible door-to-door service.

The benefits of shipping large items with a shipping provider

It might seem obvious, but shipping heavy goods yourself can be a nightmare and in some cases, it might even be impossible. But if you choose to book with a courier service, you will experience a range of benefits, these include:

  • Reducing the stress of handling the items yourself
  • Being able to select a door-to-door service so you don’t have to drop the items off at a store or collection point
  • Not having to pay huge baggage fees to take large items on a plane with you
  • Not fighting to get these items on other forms of transport, causing stress and issues for other passengers
  • Tracking your items so you know where they are at all times
  • Booking your items and shipping needs online through the quick and easy form
  • Allowing you to relax knowing that your items are in safe hands and will be delivered safely to your chosen destination

With that in mind, it makes sense that you would choose a shipping provider to do the heavy lifting for you. In this next section, we’re going to look at the different steps required to arrange and ship these large items from your home.

Find the right courier

First, you need to do some research to find a shipping provider that will collect from your address and offer all the services you need.

You should do some research and a quick comparison to get a rough idea of costs. It’s a good idea to look for providers that offer flexibility as well as a fair price, just in case you need to make changes or cancel your booking for any reason.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that the item (or items) you’re sending is not prohibited, particularly if you’re sending something abroad. For the most part, this is unlikely, but different countries have different rules and customs, so it’s always best to check this out beforehand if you’re worried.

Book your shipping

Booking your shipping should be pretty straightforward as you can do this online. In order to do this, you need to make sure you know the key details of your package. You’ll need to know:

  • The collection address
  • The delivery address
  • The weight of the package
  • The dimensions of the package

Once you have all these details you can complete your booking. When you do, you’ll receive all the relevant documents and/or labels you need to send your package.

You may be required to print these labels off ready for collection, but at the very least you should save them in a safe place in case you need them at a later date.

Package your goods

As collection day approaches, you need to package your items carefully to make sure they stay safe during transit. If you’re shipping something very valuable or fragile, make sure to package it as carefully and effectively as possible.

You can then attach the correct labels ready for the package to be collected.

It’s also a good idea to include a return address or contact number, just on the off chance something goes wrong and your parcel is lost in transit. This is very unlikely as you’re using a professional service provider to avoid this, but it can help to give you peace of mind anyway.

Prepare for collection day

You’re almost there and your items are nearly out the door. You just need to make sure that your parcel is ready and properly labelled when the courier arrives on your chosen day.

Some services will offer two to three-day shipping, while others can offer next-day, depending on how far your items have to travel. Of course, you will need to choose the most appropriate option for your items when you’re making your booking online.

Let the courier do the rest

Now you can sit back and let the shipping provider do the rest.

They will handle the parcel in transit and make sure it is delivered to the correct address on the other side.

This takes all the stress out of shipping large and potentially heavy items and ensures you won’t have to spend a fortune doing so. It also means you can do so without having to leave your home.

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New to NI Parcels?

Are you new to NI Parcels? If you’re not familiar with us, or how our service works, let us explain it. Whether you’re a first-time or experienced shipper, we strive to simplify the shipping process with an affordable and convenient solution, saving you time and money!

Who are NI Parcels?

NI Parcels offer a fast, reliable and affordable door-to-door parcel delivery service across Northern Ireland, and to over 200 countries worldwide. Ideal for small businesses sending parcels to their customers, or for someone simply wanting to send a gift to loved ones abroad.

What is a Parcel Delivery Service?

A parcel delivery service, often known as a courier or delivery service, is the transportation of a parcel from one location to another.

What is a Door-to-Door Parcel Delivery Service?

A door-to-door parcel delivery service means your parcel will be collected from your home or business, and then transported to its destination, eliminating the need of having to collect or drop an item at a service point.

How does NI Parcels work?

We’ve made our process as smooth and seamless as possible.

  1. Get an Instant Quote and Book Online
  2. Print and Attach your Labels
  3. We’ll Collect your Parcel
  4. We’ll Deliver your Parcel

Every order with NI Parcels comes with full online tracking, so you can monitor the progress of your shipment from start to finish.

Why use NI Parcels?

Enjoy the convenience of our affordable and speedy courier services available online 24/7. Our service also comes with a host of benefits that you won’t want to miss out on!

Pay-as-you-go service

There’s no need to apply for credit or rate cards. Simply pay for your order online using your Credit or Debit card, or via your PayPal account.

Top-up and Receive 5% discount

Our top-up facility allows you to easily add funds to your NI Parcels account, meaning you’ll not have to use your card everytime you order. For every £100 that you top-up, we’ll add 5% credit to your account.

FREE and Enhanced Compensation Cover

For additional peace of mind, we offer a FREE £50 Compensation cover, with the option to enhance this cover up to £1000 for a small fee.

Local & Worldwide

Whether you’re shipping Locally or Worldwide, NI Parcels is your one-stop shop for Parcel Deliveries, offering services throughout Northern Ireland, and beyond to over 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Competitive Prices & Great Choice

We work with a variety of top couriers to make sure we offer you competitive prices. We also offer a great range of services that enable you to choose something that’ll suit your needs. 

Belfast-based Customer Support

Our friendly and knowledgeable Belfast-based Customer Support team are available by Phone, Email, or Live Chat, to assist you with any queries you may have.

A Trusted Brand

We’re incredibly proud to be trusted by thousands of business and personal users across Northern Ireland. Our rating of 4.9 out of 5 with TrustPilot reflects the exceptional customer service that we strive to provide.

Join our thousands of happy customers and get an Instant Quote.

Get a Quote

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Essential Checklist For Business Start-ups

Startup team

Many people dream of striking out on their own, either as a full-time venture or as a means to supplement their current income. In order to ensure your success, we have compiled this detailed checklist for you to follow. From the basics to advanced strategies for thriving, this book covers it all. The question then becomes how to get off to a strong start without hitting any snags. Use this helpful essential checklist for business start-ups to launch your business with confidence.

#1 – Research the Competition

For example, some people want to one day make a living as yoga instructors, dog walkers, or merchants of one-of-a-kind wares. For others, it’s more about breaking free from an employer and striking out on one’s own, whether through launching a home-based business, going digital, changing careers, or something else entirely. No matter what drives you to launch a firm, study the industry thoroughly. Finding your target market is the first step in developing a product or service and a distribution strategy. Customers in some industries may be accustomed to, or even anticipate, a multi-channel, cross-device interaction with a company. A yoga instructor might provide sessions in person and online. Keep in mind that while cost is always a consideration, modern buyers also value products and services that minimise their impact on the environment and the community.

#2 – Write a Business Plan and choose a Name

Putting together a business plan will help you refine your company’s goals and unique selling point (USP). It also details your plans to expand your consumer base, market your offerings, estimate future earnings and cut expenses. Everything you do should be guided by your objective and unique selling proposition. Your ability to spot and resolve problems early on is greatly enhanced by giving some thought to the practical implications of your business plan. Finding the right name for your business can be facilitated by investigating the “what,” “who,” “how,” and “why” of your proposed venture. Since it will serve as the foundation of your brand’s identity, your name should be indicative of your goals and unique selling proposition. You can test how your name sounds in a logo or on other promotional materials with a variety of free and low-cost marketing tools. Are the tone, presentation, and sensation all satisfactory? Does it set you apart from the competition? Will it hit home with your target audience? Will it last and expand as your company does?

#3 – Register your Business

Once you have a company name, you can decide on the structure of your business, which will be important for legal and financial purposes. We recommend you speak to an accountant and/or a solicitor, to get detailed, personalised advice on the options open to you including tax implications, as these are based on company structure and your own very specific situation.

#4 – Financial Management Strategy

Careful and comprehensive financial management is one of the greatest methods to finance a business over the long run. Having a solid working connection with your bank is essential, as is selecting the best business bank account for your requirements. Things like small company insurance and establishing a merchant account for online transactions should also be on your mind. You’ll be well-positioned for success if you devote some time to studying the business’s finances. From maximising profits to decreasing expenditures to fulfilling tax and legal obligations, running a small business is fraught with financial challenges. Knowing which business expenses qualify for a tax deduction is a good first step towards tax minimization. To keep track of your financials, you can hire an accountant or utilise one of the many internet business tools available, such as accounting software.

#5 – Build your Brand

Your company’s reputation transcends its products and services. It tells customers, investors, suppliers, partners, and employees “who” your company is and what it stands for. An effective brand has a distinct purpose and unique selling proposition. The visual identity and voice of your brand can then be developed from this foundation. You can hire a graphic designer to help you with brand development, or you can use one of the many free logo generators available online. As a small business owner, you may take advantage of the current need for deeper meaning and genuine connections by relating your own personal narrative to the demands of your target market. This will help you build trust with your target audience by making your brand seem genuine, modern, and current. Always keep in mind that people do business with those they like, trust, and know.

#6 – Don’t Overlook the Minutia

If you want to succeed in business, you need to provide your customers with an excellent experience across all of your channels of communication. To learn what has to be done, first create a customer journey map. You may use this to plan out every aspect of your business, from advertising and public relations to product and service delivery. It will also aid in the identification of the supporting parts, such as hardware, software, and third-party services, such as a reliable courier who will get your product to the customers front door, which is make or break for online reviews – if people are happy with their experience, they will tell a friend, if they are NOT they tell ten friends!! Find out what general and industry-specific regulations and legislation you will need to comply with, whether voluntarily or legally, as well as any other external elements that could have an impact on your organisation. Keep in mind that your local laws and regulations may differ from those of other places.

Keep in mind that referrals from satisfied customers are a powerful kind of advertising. Maintain an active social media presence by communicating with customers and responding to their comments. You can give potential consumers a taste of what you can accomplish for them by showing them images of your newest product, videos of the process, or in-depth guides. Maintaining a strong emphasis on providing a satisfying experience for customers can help you win over new ones and keep old ones coming back. Take care of yourself first and foremost. It’s possible to have both stress and success when running a company. It’s crucial to take breaks to recharge your batteries so you don’t burn out. If you own a small business, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, since there is plenty of it available.

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Things to do in Northern Ireland for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day - Where to go in Northern Ireland?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! And, there’s still that niggling thought on many people’s minds, “What will I do for Valentine’s Day?”

Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your partner, close friends and family, or just enjoying your own company, we’ve got some ideas for what you can get up to. From a meal in a nice restaurant, to an overnight stay, or simply to enjoy the outdoors, we’ve got all angles covered with our top picks.

Where to stay in Northern Ireland for Valentines Day 2023

There are some fabulous Hotels in Northern Ireland! From the iconic Grand Central Hotel in Belfast, renowned for its awe-inspiring cocktail lounge on the top floor, to the hidden gem of the Harrison Chambers of Distinction, each offering impeccable service and a unique atmosphere. For a country retreat it has to be the Tullyglass House Hotel, or for that more romantic setting it’s Me & Mrs Jones in Portstewart. Finally, for luxury and breathtaking views the majestic Killeavy Castle Estate in County Fermanagh will not disappoint. 

Where to eat in Northern Ireland for Valentines Day 2023

If you’re looking for a great restaurant experience in Northern Ireland, there’s no shortage of delicious and unique options to suit everyone’s tastes. Our top picks for restaurants in Northern Ireland is a great place to start! 

The Boat House in Bangor offers great seafood and a relaxed atmosphere, while Browns Bonds Hill in Derry/Londonderry has amazing cocktails and a lively atmosphere. 28 At The Hollow in Enniskillen is perfect for a romantic evening, while Blu Restaurant in Belfast is a fantastic choice for a more formal dining experience. Finally, The Central Bar in Ballycastle has a great selection of beers, wines, and spirits and a friendly atmosphere.

Where to explore the outdoors in Northern Ireland for Valentine's Day 2023

Northern Ireland is full of incredible beauty, with unique and sought after sights that are enjoyed by visitors and locals alike, so you’ll find something that will appeal to you!

The Giant’s Causeway is a stunning natural phenomenon – a collection of basalt columns along the coastline – and one of Northern Ireland’s signature attractions. Just a few miles away is Carrickfergus Castle, a 12th century Norman castle where you can get a real sense of the history behind the area. Hillsborough Castle & Gardens is a beautiful Georgian mansion with gorgeous gardens and guided tours, while the Game of Thrones Trail is a great way to explore the filming locations of the show. Finally, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail (Stairway to Heaven) is a stunning hike through the Fermanagh countryside – the views are spectacular! 

Need more inspiration? Why not check out the Top 5 Most Instagrammed Spots in Northern Ireland.

Whatever you get up to this Valentine’s Day, we hope it’s a great one!

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8 Reasons Why E-Commerce Businesses Fail

e-commerce website

There are so many reasons why you might consider setting up an e-commerce business. Firstly, you can increase your reach to target more customers and, therefore, boost your sales.

Not only that, but as a business model, it is very scalable, you can offer more shipping and payment options to customers, and you’ll be presented with lots of exciting marketing opportunities.

It’s easy to see why so many businesses have turned to the internet to sell their goods or services, but despite its promise, a huge percentage of these businesses will fail.

In fact, a study found that 90% of e-commerce businesses will fail within the first three months of launching and that there are common reasons why. We will look at each of these in more detail below.

And understanding the reasons that so many e-commerce businesses fail can help you to mitigate the risks and ensure your business is a success.

Read on to find out more.

Poor online marketing

One of the biggest reasons that so many e-commerce businesses fail is that they don’t make the most of online marketing platforms. In fact, according to the earlier study, this led to the demise of over one-third (37%) of e-commerce businesses.

A strong online marketing strategy is the key to success. After all, how can you expect people to buy from you if they don’t know you exist? Therefore, every e-commerce brand needs to invest in an online marketing strategy.

But this doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune. There are plenty of budget-friendly and even free tools that you can use to get a strong strategy in place.

Lack of online visibility

Similar to the above, if you lack online visibility, you’re going to struggle to attract customers to your e-commerce website. Visibility is the overall online presence of your brand beyond your website, so this could be social media, advertising, search rankings and other online content.

Businesses with little to no online presence (outside their website) are going to find it much harder to drive traffic to their pages and build brand recognition. Not only this, but these brands can be seen as less trustworthy and rank lower on search engine results pages (SERPs).

In order to combat this and ensure your website doesn’t get lost in cyberspace, a strong search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is key. So is creating strong online content and ensuring a social media presence.

All of this can boost your online presence and trustworthiness, increasing your online visibility.

Running out of cash

One of the greatest parts about e-commerce is that there is plenty of budget-friendly, even free, tools that budding entrepreneurs can use to get their business up and running. The problem is, no business can function with zero capital, and too many find themselves investing in their new idea, only to run out of cash after just a few months.

It’s important to remember that it might take you a few months to establish your business, build a customer base and encourage brand loyalty. Therefore, it’s important to have enough money behind you to keep you going through the first tougher months while you’re starting out.

Issues with pricing

When you first start out on your e-commerce journey, knowing what to charge can be tricky. Of course, you can do some market research and try to find out the industry standard, but you need to make sure your prices are competitive while reflecting your offerings and ensuring you turn a profit.

If you get your pricing wrong in the first instance, you might find that you either don’t make enough sales or that you don’t make enough profit to stay afloat. This is a fine line to tread, but one you need to get right in order to be successful.

Fierce competition

With so many e-commerce businesses already up and running, competition to secure customers can be really tough. Today’s consumers are happy to shop around, compare prices and read reviews before making a purchase.

Therefore, a business has to go above and beyond to make a sale, and this can be tricky in the early stages. This can be even harder in popular niches, with thousands of other brands selling similar goods.

Then you have big-name retailers like Amazon who can often offer similar products at lower prices; all topped off with next-day delivery. This competition can be too much for some and lead the business to fail, so it’s imperative you find and utilise your USP.

Little to no market for products or services

As we’ve said above, competition in the e-commerce space can be fierce, so it’s important that you don’t choose a product or niche that is already saturated. That being said, you don’t want to go too far the other way, either.

The aforementioned study found that a third (35%) of businesses start up an online enterprise despite there being little to no market for their goods or services. If there is no target audience and no need for your offering, who are you selling to?

This is a surefire way for your business to go under quickly, so it’s important to choose products or services with existing demand.

Lack of customer service

Today’s consumers expect a certain experience from brands, and in particular, they expect a high standard of customer service.

Having recently started an e-commerce business, too many people are unable to provide the answers and support that customers need, thus costing themselves a lot of sales. There could be several reasons for this, either lack of time, no staff or no awareness of the importance of customer service.

Whatever the case may be, answering customer queries in a timely manner and ensuring they can find FAQs and other helpful content is so important.

No clear return policy

Finally, it’s understandable that you don’t want to think about customers sending your goods back, but that is a reality of the world we live in.

Consumers want to know that they can easily return goods either to be swapped or for a refund. If your e-commerce website doesn’t clearly explain your returns policy, they are unlikely to risk spending their money with you.

That is why it is vital to have a clear returns policy displayed on the website and to make it as easy as possible for customers to return unwanted or faulty items.

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8 Reasons To Choose NI Parcels

8 reasons to choose NI Parcels

At NI Parcels, we provide a fast, reliable and affordable parcel delivery service.

We strive to simplify the shipping process, resulting in both businesses & individuals saving valuable time and money. Whether you’re sending a gift to loved ones or a package to a customer, our service is perfect.

Listed below are the 8 reasons why you should choose NI Parcels:

1 – Competitive Prices

Offering you competitive prices by comparing multiple couriers. 

Competitive Prices | NI Parcels

2 – Local & Worldwide Shipping

Whether you’re shipping from Bangor to Brisbane, or somewhere in between, we ship to over 200 countries worldwide.

Local & Worldwide Shipping | NI Parcels

3 – Quote & Book Online

Our website allows you to Quote & Book instantly 24 hours a day,  7 days a week.

Quote & Book | NI Parcels

4 – Pay-as-you-go service

For your convenience, we’re a pay-as-you-go service. Our secure online payment system allows you to pay by credit/debit card with no additional billing or invoicing required.

Pay-as-you-go | NI Parcels

5 – Door to Door Service

Once you book, we’ll collect your parcel and deliver it. Providing an estimated delivery time frame.

Door to Door Delivery Service | NI Parcels

6 – Full Online Tracking

You can monitor the progress of your parcel with our full online tracking.

Full Online Tracking | NI Parcels

7 – Belfast-based Customer Support

As well as our extensive support section online, our Belfast-based customer support team is available should you require assistance. You can contact us via phone, email or online chat.

Belfast-based Customer Support | NI Parcels

8 – A brand you can trust

At NI Parcels, we’ve been trusted by thousands of businesses and individuals across Northern Ireland, and currently, we are rated EXCELLENT 4.8 out of 5 with TrustPilot.

A brand you can trust | NI Parcels

Get an instant quote here.

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Top 5 Most Instagrammed Spots In NI

Top 5 Most Instagrammed Spots In NI

We have endless Instagram picture opportunities in our wee country, with our beautiful coastline, our natural landscapes, and of course, our vibrant, and up-and-coming cities. It’s amazing to think that people travel thousands of miles every year to see our part of the world, and we get to enjoy it every day. 

Listed below are the top five Instagrammed spots in Northern Ireland, in order of popularity.

Giants Causeway
327K posts

Giants Causeway | NI Parcels

The basalt rocks formed by volcanic activity some 50 million years ago, this UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts millions of visitors to Northern Ireland, and it’s no surprise that it’s the top Instagrammed spot.

Mourne Mountains
146K posts

Mourne Mountains | NI Parcels

In the Mourne Mountains, sweeping peaks meet the shores of Strangford Lough. As a haven for nature lovers, outdoor adventurers, and keen photographers, it’s no surprise that the Mournes have inspired many writers, artists and filmmakers.

Dark Hedges
70.5K posts

Dark Hedges | NI Parcels

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll recognise the Dark Hedges, which represent “Kingsroad”. The original purpose was to impress guests visiting Gracehill House, a Georgian mansion. Today, they are one of Northern Ireland’s most popular and photographed sights.

Cavehill
55.8K posts

Cavehill Belfast | NI Parcels

There’s no better place to get all-encompassing views of Belfast than Cavehill. The country park is complete with picnic areas along with various walking and cycling trails. 

Carrick-a-Rede
52.9K post

Carrick-a-Rede | NI Parcels

The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, elevated 100ft above the ocean, was erected in 1755. The rope bridge is connected between 2 cliffs, providing access to Carrick-a-Rede Island, which is home to just a single cottage built by a fisherman.

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How Cost Of Living Is Affecting Shipping Costs For Businesses

Over the last four or five years, businesses, both big and small, have seen themselves facing challenge after challenge as they struggle to survive. The Coronavirus pandemic had an impact on businesses around the globe, and this impact is still being felt now, even as we begin to emerge from the other side of the pandemic.

More than this, the implications of Brexit, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a global shipping container shortage and, of course, the ever-rising cost of living are also having an impact on businesses and their customers.

Many are trying to adapt, but with rapidly rising costs to contend with, this is not easy. And there is one area, in particular, that is suffering right now, and that is shipping and logistics. The soaring cost of shipping is having an effect on supply chains.

And let’s face it, you can offer the best product in the world, but it’s no good if you can’t get it to your customers. It’s also no good if rising shipping costs are putting a huge dent in your profit margins and making it even harder to stay afloat.

Below, we’re going to take a look at how all of the above is affecting businesses and shipping costs right now. Particularly as the cost of living continues to rise and large parts of the Western world appear to be heading towards a recession.

The Coronavirus pandemic

During the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, consumers had to rely on online shopping and having goods delivered directly to their homes. This included everything from food to computers and clothes to gym equipment.

This placed unprecedented levels of demand on global and domestic supply chains. With labour shortages as a result of the virus, shipping providers both dockside and at sea were buckling under the pressure.

Not only this, but on the roads, truck drivers were not able to cross borders, and large numbers of drivers were becoming ill as a result of the virus. This meant delivery via the roads was suffering too. The increased demand on supply chains, particularly the demand for freight transport, saw costs begins to surge across most shipping routes.

The Suez Canal accident 

Then, in March 2021, a huge shipping vessel got stuck in the Suez Canal. This blocked the entire waterway – an important shipping route – for a whole week. Given that 12% of the world’s trade passes through that canal, this accident once again caused shipping charges to shoot up even further.

Despite clearing the canal after a week and getting operations back up and running, the blockage caused delays that took weeks, even months, to correct.

Brexit negotiations

Meanwhile, back on the roads, Brexit and the subsequent negotiations contributed to a huge shortage of HGV drivers. This led to shipping providers offering huge salaries in a bid to attract new drivers.

This placed further tension on the supply chains, not to mention businesses were having to fork out more money to attract skilled workers. So once again, shipping prices were on the rise.

The war on Ukraine

Then, just as we began to adjust to life in a post-pandemic world and governments across the globe recognised the need to do more to address the rising cost of living crisis, Russia invaded Ukraine.

The move shocked the world, and once again, the shipping industry was rocked. Freight companies and their customers were now dealing with the soaring cost of Russian oil and gas. Plus, with so many countries boycotting Russian produce, rapid price rises in fuel, food and manufactured goods only skyrocketed the cost of living even further.

The war has caused widespread disruption to the shipping industry and has only exacerbated ongoing supply chain disruptions. As of April 2022, there were numerous merchant vessels still trapped in Ukrainian ports along the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The cost of living crisis

As we’ve already said above, the cost of living is rising rapidly as a result of Brexit, the war on Ukraine and the knock-on effect of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is affecting both consumers and businesses alike.

Businesses are already facing rising costs of shipping, couple this with the fact that the current cost of living means many shoppers are cutting back, and it’s not looking good.

Spending £2.99 on shipping is no longer just taken as a given. Consumers have begun to weigh up the cost of their goods in comparison to shipping to determine if this is the right way to be spending their money.

In many cases, this has forced businesses to offer free shipping to counteract this and continue to drive sales. This is only increasing the cost of shipping for themselves and creating a dip in their profit margins which ultimately comes at a much higher cost to the business.

Final thoughts

It’s a turbulent time for both businesses and consumers right now, and this doesn’t look like it will be resolved any time soon. The cost of living continues to rise, as does the cost of shipping, and so many businesses must do all they can to offset this and stay afloat until a resolution is found.

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A Guide To B2B E-commerce

B2B Ecommerce

When we think about e-commerce, our minds tend to turn immediately towards B2C brands, that is, the selling of goods to everyday consumers. However, selling your goods or services to other businesses online can also be very lucrative.

The problem is e-commerce B2B businesses models can feel a lot more overwhelming than B2C models with tried and tested methods.

But there is good news if you’re considering starting up a B2B e-commerce venture or moving your existing B2B business online. The more you learn, prepare and take action, the more successful your B2B initiatives will be.

Below, we’re going to take you through the B2B e-commerce model and some common misconceptions, as well as discussing whether B2B e-commerce is right for your business (spoiler – it probably is!).

What is B2B e-commerce?

B2B stands for business to business; therefore, B2B e-commerce models are those which provide goods or services to other businesses through online sales channels.

Because this centres around the supplying of goods or services from one enterprise to another, product prices tend to be a lot more flexible, and order volumes can be much larger depending on your offering.

Not only this, but since it’s businesses buying from one another, B2B e-commerce transactions are usually more logical, need-based and are far less impulsive than those made by individual consumers.

Some examples of well-recognised B2B e-commerce businesses include Amazon, Alibaba, Salesforce, Hootsuite and Microsoft.

The key benefits of setting up a B2B e-commerce store

There are a number of reasons why selling through B2B e-commerce can be very advantageous, and the key benefits for both you and your customers include:

  • Being able to offer better customer service, as well as improved efficiency and productivity
  • Opening your business up to a much wider customer base
  • Increasing your brand awareness
  • The ability to grow and scale up the business easily to meet market demand and customer needs
  • Access to more data and analytics than ever before, making it easier to assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies, sales effectiveness, product mix, etc.
  • The possibility to increase your sales engagement with customers
  • Providing an omnichannel sales and communication experience to your customers

But despite these many benefits, some brands are still reluctant or worried about embracing this business model – and this is often down to a number of misconceptions.

What are some common misconceptions about B2B e-commerce?

Whether already running a business or considering getting started, there are some common misconceptions that hold lots of people back from selling B2B online; these are believing:

  1. That the traditional B2B method is absolutely fine as it is and needs no updating
  2. B2B customers don’t want to buy things online; they all want to speak with a sales rep in person or over the phone before purchasing
  3. B2B pricing is too complex for an e-commerce website
  4. Good customer service and business interaction don’t translate well online
  5. B2B products are not suitable for online sales
  6. E-commerce sites can’t comprehend more complicated payment methods such as monthly instalments
  7. B2B websites don’t need to be fancy or cleverly designed
  8. E-commerce sites are costly and take up a lot of your precious time

Of course, none of this is correct. In today’s digital world, as Millennials and younger generations are increasingly in decision-making roles, more and more people prefer to buy goods and services for their business online.

Not only this, but B2B e-commerce does not have to be costly, labour-intensive or complicated. There are plenty of tools and platforms out there that make creating and maintaining a well-designed, engaging website quick and easy.

What features and capabilities should a B2B e-commerce site have?

If you’re ready to get your e-commerce site set up, you might be wondering how to get started and what key features your website is going to need. The good news is there are certain features and capabilities that every good B2B e-commerce site should have, so tick these boxes, and you’ll be on the path to success:

Customer accounts

Firstly, you need to make sure your clients can buy goods, monitor orders and reorder as quickly and simply as possible. It’s a good idea to allow customers to create an account they can log into and quickly reorder or access past orders.

This should include solo and multiple user accounts, and you could even allow them to set up permissions and user authority levels for making purchases.

Order and pricing features

Where required, it’s important to indicate minimum and maximum order quantities, as well as fixed price lists or volume-based discounts.

If you don’t offer fixed prices and instead offer tailored packages, ensure that contacting the relevant sales reps is as simple and easy as possible, pop up chat windows can be very helpful for this.

Payment options

Flexible payment options and portals such as buy now, pay later (BNPL) are great for customers as they offer them a range of ways to pay. As such, it’s a good idea to offer a variety of portals and ways to pay, carefully displaying all options on your e-commerce site.

Courier and shipping options

As well as offering different payment options, it’s a good idea to offer a range of different shipping options. This can be particularly important for businesses who need swift deliveries or special courier services for heavier, larger or more fragile goods.

Administrative features

These features should also benefit the business by synchronising orders, inventory and client profiles with the administrative office. Your site should also integrate helpful business systems such as bulk pricing, quote management and inventory handling.

Data and privacy

Finally, you need to make sure that you follow all data privacy and other cybersecurity protocols to keep your business and customers safe. Remember, when using your website, businesses will be sharing a lot of sensitive information with you, and this needs to be protected.

So should you be selling B2B through e-commerce?

For the most part, yes, you should be selling B2B through e-commerce. That being said, depending on your goods or services, there will always be some exceptions, and ultimately you need to determine this for yourself.

However, as we move further into a digital world, consumers and businesses are increasingly looking for quick, simple and more efficient ways to get the goods and services they need.

Not to mention e-commerce opens you up to a much bigger audience, which is so important in today’s competitive market.

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Small Business’s Guide To Financial Planning For The New Year

Finance sheet

While lots of people are focusing on the festive season, getting ahead of their Christmas shopping and organising holiday celebrations for small businesses, the upcoming new year is a time for reflection and financial planning.

Ultimately, the sooner you get started with your business financial planning, the better prepared your business will be for the year ahead. However, as this is a busy (and exciting) time of year, it can be tricky to know how to get started with your finances.

But, if you want to set your small business up for success, this guide is for you. Below, we’ll give you a rundown of the financial planning tasks you need to take care of head of the new year.

1. Prepare all your key end-of-year financial documents

One of the most important parts of reviewing your finances and forecasting for the future is ensuring you have all the key financial documents at your disposal. Plus, these will be important for settling any outstanding payments as you move forward into the new year. The key financial documents you should gather include:

  • Balance sheet  (statement of financial position)
  • Profit and loss account (income statement)
  • Cash flow statement

Having these statements is an important part of monitoring and analysing the overall performance of your small business. These help to show whether you’re running a healthy business or not, if you do need some adjustment or if funding, expansion or mentorship could be a possibility in the future.

Not only that but from these documents, you will be able to calculate your current assets and liabilities, any debt you owe and any profit you’ve made. Having all this information to hand can help you to not only see what you’re doing well or possibly where your business is suffering, but it is vital for planning your finances and budgets for the new year.

2. Start preparing your tax documents

Following on from our first point, although the end of the year might not be the end of the tax year, it is a good time to start getting your tax documents in order.

The types of records you keep will vary depending on the nature of your business, but it’s a good idea to keep as much as possible until the end of the tax year when you know your return has been filed correctly. These key documents could include:

  • Bank statements
  • Cheque stubs
  • Certificates of loan interest paid by you
  • Receipts
  • Invoices
  • Forms EIS3 or EIS5 if you were issued them
  • Gift Aid payments
  • Pension plan certificate

Once you’ve gathered all the documents and details that are relevant to your business, you can start the new year feeling more prepared and with some idea of what your tax bill might be that year. Not only this, but you’ll be able to look back at where you’ve been spending your money and where your key earners are, making it much easier to plan for the future with real data and insights.

3. Start planning your goals for the new year

Armed with all the relevant documents, information and insights, you can review your goals from the past year. This will highlight areas of strength and weakness, helping to give you a clearer picture of your business goals for the new year.

At this stage, you can start writing down your goals for the new year based on your findings. For example, is your goal to increase sales? Hire new employees? Cut business costs? Or perhaps to make the move from retail to online and open up another source of revenue?

Of course, these are just a few ideas, but at this point, you should write down each business goal you hope to achieve over the coming 12 months, including as much detail as possible about each one.

4. Develop action plans based on your financial goals

Once you’ve begun writing down your goals, it’s time to think about which are going to be your key priorities and get an action plan in place for each of these. It can be very helpful to use the SMART method by setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

In order to get the most effective action plan in place, you should break each goal down into smaller objectives, making these more specific. You can then outline the key metrics with which you’ll measure your goals, ensuring your goals and targets are relevant to the overall success of your business.

Finally, you can set a deadline for each of your goals, making sure these are realistic and attainable.

This is because if you set goals that are too hard to reach or that you will not reasonably achieve by your set deadline, this can become very disheartening. So, to help you stay on track and feel as if your business is driving forward, set SMART financial goals.

An example of one such goal could be:

  • Specific – I want to hire a new employee to enable a delivery service
  • Measurable – I will measure their success by how much sales and profits increase
  • Attainable – I have money in my budget to hire a new employee
  • Relevant – I can offer training that will boost their sales and marketing skills, which will contribute to their success within the business
  • Time-based – I hope to have a new employee by the end of Q1 and see sales increasing by the end of Q3

5. Create a strategic financial plan

Now you’ve got all your documents together and have outlined the goals you hope to achieve, the final stage is to get a strategic plan in place.

Look at your goals and plug in the costs needed to achieve them; you can then compare this with your current financial situation and determine the funds you’ll need to achieve your goals. Creating financial projections in this way ensures you have enough money in your budget to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.

What’s more, based on your SMART goals, you can determine whether you will need more staff, equipment, etc., to drive your business forward. This will again help you to set budgets and get a strategic financial plan in place to ensure success in the new year.

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