The final step in any printed project is shipping and delivery. It seems obvious but it may be surprising to to learn what goes into coordinating shipping. It's a HUGE consideration, since project delivery dates are often tied to extremely important dates for your client. How and where you ship your final job have a direct effect on costs and the production schedule. The sooner you tackle shipping and delivery, the more prepared you can be in the end.
I have worked with a variety of clients with various delivery needs. Here's a list of questions to ask your client:
1) HOW would they like it shipped? Having costs and timelines handy will help them decide which shipping method will work best for their budget and delivery date.
2) WHERE is the item being shipped? Ask them for a zip code or mailing address! Your vendor will need that info to estimate shipping costs.
- Does your client use a mailing house?
- Do they have a distribution list?
- Do they want samples shipped directly to their business?
- Are they shipping to a trade show?
- Are they shipping to a residential location?
- Are there any special delivery considerations (i.e. gated communities with codes, will someone be there to receive the package, what time of day is convenient)?
3) WHO are they shipping it to? Ask your client for particular details regarding the recipients—specifically, names!
- Are they shipping it to a specific individual?
- Are they shipping to multiple people?
- Are they shipping to a business?
4) HOW MANY are they shipping?
- How many pieces are going to each delivery address?
- How many samples would they like?
- How many samples would you like?
5) WHEN do they need to be delivered by? Ask your client for their drop dead delivery date and do everything in your power to get it there on that day.
Remember that best practice is transparency when it comes to printing and shipping costs. They should be guesstimated early in the quoting process and should always be taken into consideration when planning the print production schedule.
Last but not least... ASK FOR TRACKING INFORMATION from your vendor. Forward the information to your client and FOLLOW UP on tracking to ensure the items were delivered on time and in good condition. If damage occurs during shipment, follow up with your vendor and demand (nicely) that they follow up with you with a resolution.
Your vendor is an extension of you and your reputation. If your vendor doesn't deliver on time, it reflects negatively on you. It is the designer or agency's responsibility to ensure the final product is delivered when expected. CHOOSE YOUR VENDOR WISELY!