Standardized operating procedures help ensure your customers receive their orders in the expected period without breakage or damage. Shippers must comply with state, federal and international shipping regulations that apply to the country the package will travel through. Shipping department personnel ensure removal of the products from inventory and the maintenance of positive relations with each of the logistics companies that pick up and deliver products to your customers.

Inventory Control

Effective inventory control is a key element in your company's profitability. Product enters your inventory control system when your receiving department logs the shipments into your company’s system. Although your system may register a reorder at the time of sale, you should not remove the product from inventory until your shipping department packages it for shipment. Proper inventory control at the date of shipping is your company’s last point of defense against employee theft. If you remove products from inventory too soon in the sales process, the door is opened for products to disappear before they were scheduled for shipment to customers.

Product Packaging

Correct package handling includes secure packing in the proper box, correct labeling, and shipment with the logistics company the business uses, or if allowed, the customer’s choice. Shipments containing scientific or medical specimens require special handling to ensure the material remains at the required temperature. Hazardous material shipping requires the use of authorized shippers such as UPS, FedEx or other firms authorized to handle such products. Ground transportation of hazardous materials must comply with Department of Transportation regulations, and air and water transportation of hazardous materials must comply with regulations of other governmental agencies. The key requirement is that hazardous materials do not pose a health or explosion threat to the public.

Shipping Costs

Different shipping modes include Free on Board Origin, and FOB Destination. FOB Origin means the buyer has title to the goods at the time of shipment, and assumes the risks associated with shipping the product. FOB Destination means the seller has title to the goods until delivered to the customer and is responsible for the risks associated with shipping. Other well-known shipping variations include collect and prepaid. Collect shipping means the logistics company collects shipping fees from the buyer. Prepaid and add means the seller pays the shipping, but expects reimbursement from the buyer, and prepaid and allow means the shipping charges were included in the sales contract.

Customer Relations

Customer relations are an important part of your shipping department. Your customers may call to check on shipping dates or for information on how to track their shipment. Sellers are interested in knowing when customers signed for a shipment, and if the item arrived in good condition. One of the most challenging concerns for your shipping department customer service is products damaged during transportation. Depending on the shipping mode, the shipping department may become involved in solving the dispute between buyers and sellers over damaged products.