Overpaying shipping costs when mailing packages to customers can mean reduced profits for a small business. Hefty shipping costs can also result in lost customer sales because of a customer (or customers) choosing to go elsewhere for an item. Having a cost-effective delivery system to customers can make or break a sale, so it’s important for the small-business owner to understand the shipping world and do what she can to minimize shipping costs to customers.
1) Use shipping comparative sites. Sites like Ship Gooder and Shipping Sidekick display comparative rates from FedEx, UPS, USPS, and even local delivery services to allow you to select the most inexpensive courier based upon transit time.
2) Use light packaging material. Styrofoam peanuts are about as light as air; the amount of weight they add to a package is practically negligible. Since most shipping carriers use an item’s weight as part of the cost of the item being shipped, it’s important for businesses to use the most lightweight packaging available that protects their items during transit. An added bonus: Because Styrofoam packaging is so lightweight, it makes employee package handling easier and quicker, which can have a direct effect on the bottom line.
3) Print printing labels online. Not only will you save money on shipping supplies, but time too. The United States Postal Service provides a handy way to print shipping labels online.
4) Take advantage of discounts. For example, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) members are eligible for up to 20 percent discount on FedEx services. Using the American Express business card helps small business owners save five percent on shipping services through FedEx. Some trade associations offer discounts on shipping services as well. For example, the World Pet Association offers reduced rates on FedEx shipping.
5) Use a postage meter. A portable postage meter takes the guesswork out of the weight of a product. A postage meter will print postage on first, second, third, and fourth class mail, in addition to registered mail, air mail, and special delivery pieces. You can purchase a postage meter base and scale, but the actual postage meter itself can only be leased, however.
6) Use free mailing supplies. If you are shipping by USPS Priority or Express mail, take advantage of the free shipping supplies, including boxes and mailing envelopes. Save and reuse shipping packaging, such as bubble wrap as another way to save when shipping products to customers.
7) Auction your shipping needs. In a new cost-saving shipping twist, companies like uShip allow businesses to place their customer shipping needs into an auction and allow independent shippers, brokers, or large freight carriers to bid on them.