Consumers now live in a world of convenience. They can purchase an item online and have it arrive at their doorstep the next day—if not the same day, in some cases.

For larger retailers, providing same-day or expedited shipping options is now table stakes, and many of them have fine-tuned their operations to ensure not only that items get delivered on time, but that shoppers can track their package at every stage of delivery. For small businesses, however, executing nationwide shipping is a much heavier lift.

Thankfully, small-business owners can now access software solutions with shipping integrations to streamline this process and satisfy their customers.

Why small businesses should consider same-day delivery.

During the pandemic, more consumers were inclined to buy local to support small businesses that couldn't open their doors or that experienced reduced foot traffic due to health and safety concerns. Recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce data indicates 56% of consumers are now shopping at neighborhood stores and buying locally sourced products.

This trend suggests more consumers want to buy locally and support small businesses. However, this doesn't mean that they're willing to sacrifice convenience entirely. One 2020 survey from eMarketer found that the top reason consumers shop at Amazon wasn't competitive pricing or more selection but because of delivery speed. Additionally, 68% of consumers say faster shipping would entice them to place an online order, as noted by Digital Commerce 360.

In this environment, it's critical for every retailer—small and large alike—to offer a variety of shipping options that meet consumers' needs.

What technology brings to local and nationwide shipping.

Cloud-based retail shipping solutions now allow small businesses to better compete with larger retailers, both online and in their own backyards.

The solutions, which integrate with point-of-sale (POS) systems or operate as standalone platforms, can allow your business to import customer orders from a variety of channels, including third-party marketplaces, your customer relationship management platform, or enterprise resource planning system.

Software-based shipping solutions also provide automated capabilities that streamline order processing, fulfillment, and tracking, such as tagging and categorizing orders, batch label printing, and the process of handling split or multi-package shipments to the same customer. This technology also provides tracking information, so customers can see where their package is and when they can expect it to arrive. This information is valuable for helping your business better manage its inventory and potentially avoid stock-outs.

Depending on the software, you may be able to offer same-day or expedited shipping. An integrated shipping platform might feature same-day delivery services where drivers will pick up packages from your business to deliver to customers in your local area. In some cases, there may be integrations with larger shipping or delivery service partners, where a carrier will pick up packages for same-day shipping directly from your location and make sure they get to your customers on time—even if they live across the country.

The advantage of using a software solution with shipping integrations is that every part of the process is automated, easily trackable, and handled through a single platform.

Satisfying your customers with faster shipping.

Offering same-day delivery or expedited shipping can help drive greater customer loyalty and satisfaction, especially among consumers who want to direct more of their dollars to local businesses instead of big-box stores.

With flexible shipping options, you can expand your customer base beyond your local area and attract more consumers in your region or even nationally, which ultimately could have a positive impact on your sales and revenue.

Expanding your services to offer same-day delivery and flexible shipping options likely will come at an additional cost to your business in the form of monthly technology licensing fees and service charges from third-party shipping partners. However, it's worth making these investments because customers now expect this convenience.

And you can provide these conveniences to your customers—and position your business for future growth—by using technology to automate many parts of the retail shipping process and get orders to customers' doorsteps as quickly as possible.

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