Shipping meat from your butcher’s shop can help you hit your goals for growth.
Let’s face it, butcher’s shops are no more local businesses by regional if not national, thus shipping meat is the norm.
Now, because of eCommerce technology, your local butcher shop can serve customers just as capably, albeit from a distance.
Websites now are fulfilling the purpose of being more than just electronic brochures.
They are now excellent electronic salespeople.
Adding the value to your business of hiring expert staff, a well honed eCommerce website can add extensive reach & growth to your enterprise.
But logistically, how best should your butcher shop dispatch meat?
The answer to the question relies on scope.
The bottom line in business is always profit, however profit is only but the reward of good service to customers.
Local business benefits from close personal contact, lower overheads and convenient location.
Distance business suffers from remote contact or intermediary involvement, higher overheads and removed proximity.
The further you want your business to reach, the greater complexities you must account for.
Greater reliance on 3rd parties for distribution, greater cost in transit and greater efforts needed to sell.
But besides all this, can the benefits of expanding your butcher business outweigh the costs?
How do you know where to draw the line?
With the following points we attempt to address these questions and more for you.
How far a distance will you be shipping meat?
Are your plans to ship meat locally, regionally, or nationally?
The closer your delivery endpoints, e.g. neighbourhood rounds, the more cost effective it might be to make deliveries yourself.
Clearly, in order to do this you’d need a van, ideally with refrigeration set-up and drivers to make the runs.
If you take staff resources from shop floor duties to fulfill this delivery run, you could lose necessary in-house sales capacity.
It’s a trade off.
With local food runs, much like print shop runs, the cost is all in the set-up and commitment.
Once the systems starts, the proportional cost of the job decreases with the duration within which the systems are in progress.
In other words, once your delivery van is on the road, the more deliveries performed per trip, the lower the transit cost per delivery.
The more returns to base, the fewer efficiencies gained in route planning.
Longer distances between deliveries, drastically reduce the cost efficiencies.
Covering large territories makes self-delivery cost prohibitive to many operations.
Where deliveries are handled by a logistic partner, like a courier, this practical planning hassle is on their plate.
Your responsibility within the arrangement with a courier would be to ensure all fees are paid.
Will shipping meat be cost effective for your butcher business?
Weighing up your logistic options for meat shipping is important for feasibility.
Planning if self-delivery vs. using a courier would be more feasible can be done on the back of envelope for simplicity.
Identify your operational profit for a sale in shop (…this should not be never bee too far a reach).
Then simply swap in your associated shop overheads with using a courier, or delivering yourself.
Once you have arrived at a figure, including transit costs (either way), plus a margin of profit – you now have your price for selling your shipped meat.
Any price beneath this using the same methods, will chip away to your profit.
Now you know if shipping meat will be feasible.
How should you package your meat to be shipped?
Meat is typically shipped either in polystyrene or vacuum packed and wrapped in ice.
Several layers of freezer packaging insulate the meat against warmth, keeping it optimally cool.
This is very cost effective, adequate and simple enough to administer.
How do you keep meat cool when shipping?
Meat is kept cool in transit, below the advised 4.4 degrees C safety level, by refrigeration and ice.
Dry ice is preferred in some cases.
Once insulated in a Styrofoam container, your fresh meat package will be adequately kept cool for up to 2 days with dry ice.
But remembering fresh meat deliveries, for quality reasons, are likely be delivered within 24hrs from order.
The following table from Dry Ice Info gives advice on recommended quantities of dry ice to sufficiently cool meat over a duration of time:
…image courtesy of www.dryice.info
There are various means of keeping meat cool in transit to choose from.
However, if you do not have a refrigerated unit…dry ice with Styrofoam packaging is the most effective.
It produces the most consistently safe results, for longest duration.
How should you plan lead times & order cut off for shipping meat?
Lead times and order cut offs are essential in preparing to ship meat deliveries for your butcher business.
Logistically, you want to ensure that these parameters are set with precision.
These are the primary service levels for keeping delivery customers happy.
How to choose a courier partner for shipping meat products?
Your courier partner will have the responsibility of making sure meat shipment arrives at the right place, on time.
Select a courier whose successful delivery percentage against expected service levels are high and reliable.
A unique tracking code related to each order gives you remote visibility of your couriers’ efforts in transit.
No delivery service is perfect, but you want to have confidence in the courier’s ability when quoting customers.
How should you take your payments for meat shipping?
Taking payments effectively is often a sticking point for many small businesses.
B2B (business) accounts often carry credit terms.
This offers customers the opportunity of buying immediately, but paying later.
B2c (consumer) arrangements sometimes offer credit.
Non payment is routinely a serious threat to small businesses.
Upfront losses from late, or non payers, threatens vital cashflow and in severe cases precedes closure.
However, removing credit arrangements may deter some customers.
Your decision on payment policy will set the tone for the ongoing financial health of your meat shipping operation.
From experience, however, we see that debt sinks business.
Removing lending and borrowing from commerce puts the breaks on growth.
But the phrase: ‘slow, but sure, wins the race,’ comes to mind.
Payment in advance of delivery by phone or via the internet is a prudent choice of receiving monies.
Doorstep collection is fraught with frailties impacting the sustainability of your delivery operation.
Is eCommerce a profitable way of shipping meat?
Ecommerce is a very advantageous tool for your meat delivery business.
Via a technically enabled website, your butcher shop is able to display products, communicate benefits, effect order placement and receive payment…all within minutes.
For the one-off cost of setting up a butcher eCommerce website, plus ongoing low level maintenance help, you could have a prominent online delivery business.
Once launched and prominent, your online shop will return profit many times over on the initial sum, recurring.
What to do if you get purchase day returns when delivering meat products?
Accepting returns of perishable fresh meat is inadvisable.
Simply because meat cannot be resold as fresh if returned and refrigerated again.
Any problems with a customer order and they reject it – the loss belongs to your shop.
Getting things right 1st time around has therefore got to be your standard.
Make sure you collect customer reviews and publish them!
Customer reviews will only help engage a disparate customer base and score you credibility against doubt with distant prospects.
Customers meeting you on the premises of your butchers shop are getting a personal service experience, 1st hand.
Delivery customers, however, at best, are meeting the courier’s delivery man.
Selecting a delivery partner who will perform excellently in the area of customer service will keep them happy.
This will lead to positive delivery experiences and if documented with reviews, publishing such good feedback will help convince future prospective customers to give you a try.
Do you have firm plans for starting your meat shipping business?
Any experience to share, either way, of shipping meat locally or further?
Feel free to comment below.