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Inexpensive Shipping Ideas for Small Businesses

Many small business owners find it difficult to handle shipping merchandise. When you add poor planning into the mix, the process becomes even more complicated, not to mention expensive. Businesses that don’t work closely with their carrier in an effort to work out common shipping criteria end up spending up to 40% more than necessary, according to Tompkins Associates. Here’s how you can save money when shipping.


1. After you’ve chosen your shipping provider, whether it’s UPS, DHL, FedEx or another company, ask to speak with their small business specialist. Find out how you can match the carrier’s services and fees with your recurring shipping requirements. For example, there may be a specific mode of transportation or timing that will help everything run more smoothly than it has been.

2. Find out when you should be shipping by air and when you should be choosing ground shipping. Various things come into play when making this decision, including distance, DIM weight, the size of the package, and the value of the contents. It’s possible that you’re spending far too much on air shipping when you should be using ground shipping.

3. Make sure that your staff members know exactly when they need to be sending out orders. If they’re not on a schedule, you could need to send out a last minute order, which will likely have to go by air and which will cost a lot more than if you planned accordingly.

4. Be clear with your customers about what type of shipping the company pays for and what shipping options they’ll need to pay for. For example, many companies will provide three-day parcel service as a standard. However, premium services, like two-day service or overnight delivery, is often paid for by the customer, at least in part. If your customers aren’t clear on these policies, though, you may be pressured into providing refunds.

5. Determine if you need to adjust the price of your product. You may be able to lower your shipping costs, which gives customers the impression that they’re getting a good deal, by charging a bit more for your product. Jacquie Vintage, a seller on Etsy, uses this tactic to off-set the cost of shipping items.

6. If you often send shipments that weigh between 150 and 20,000 pounds, these are considered less than truckload shipments. Freight consolidation services are available to add your shipment to another company’s in order to make a full truckload. LTL shipments cost more because they have to be consolidated by the carrier. When you work with a consolidation company, the carrier will be able to pull up to your terminal, get a full truckload and be on their way.

7. Invest in a postage meter and stop guessing at the weight of your packages. When you have to wing it, you end up spending more money than necessary on extra postage just to be careful. Postage meters are portable machines that have a scale for weighing packages and assessing cost. The machine will also print out a shipping label. Postage meters save companies up to 20% on shipping costs every year, making it well worth the investment.

When you don’t plan accordingly, it’s easy to overpay on your shipments. Even worse is if you end up losing sales because you don’t have consistent shipping methods. Luckily, even if you can’t yet afford to hire a logistics manager, you can still make certain tweaks to your process to save your sanity, budget and client base.

Written By

Dennis Hung is an entrepreneur and product analyst specializing in mobile technology and IoT. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America.

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