COVID saw a boom in demand for eCommerce. To this day, that demand has remained. On one hand, it’s great. More people want to shop online, and it levels the playing field for independent sellers. However, this increase in demand has led to higher shipping costs. And it’s having a detrimental impact on smaller online stores. Today, we’re saying “no more!” to these crippling expenses. Below, you’ll find 10 ways you can reduce your small business shipping costs and save money.
10 ways small business can reduce shipping costs
1. Choose your carrier wisely
First off, simply selecting the right carrier and service for your small business can minimize shipping costs. But how do you know which one is the “right one”? Well, it depends on your needs and what you’re shipping.
Shipping small items
USPS is nearly always the least expensive option for shipping items below 2lbs. For example, cosmetics or lighter clothing. USPS first-class mail is the most cost-effective service for items under 1lb. Whereas USPS Priority Mail is the best choice for small items that exceed 1lb.
In addition, USPS offers Priority Mail Cubic discounts. With this service, rates are based on the outer dimensions of a package - not its weight! As a result, shippers sending small packages can save money.
Shipping heavy items
If you’re shipping heavier and larger items (like furniture or heavy home decor) - UPS is often cheapest.
Also, UPS offers additional shipping insurance for up to $50,000 declared value. What does that have to do with saving money on shipping costs? Well, 1 out of every 10 items shipped in the US are damaged. So eventually, something will happen to one of your packages. And if you’re sending high-value items like furniture, you stand to lose a lot. With UPS extra insurance, you can be sure that the costs are covered should anything happen.
2. Go for ground shipping services
In the age of Amazon, it can be tempting to choose expedited shipping. But these shipping services are costly. Instead, go for inexpensive carrier ground services.
Yes, ground shipping is a little slower. However, it’s a lot cheaper than Next or 2nd Day Air. Plus, delivery services like USPS Priority Mail only take 1.8 days on average. Therefore, your customers won’t have to wait that much longer to receive their package. As an added bonus, ground services use considerably less fuel. So your small business can save money on shipping and be sustainable at the same time.
3. Ship multiple orders in one package
The same customer places 5 different orders from your eCommerce store. Then, you print 5 separate labels and ship out 5 separate packages. Don’t worry - we’ve all done it. But it’s not cost-effective and it’s not great for the environment either.
So, the next time a customer places multiple orders, ship them all in one package and print one label. This way, you’ll avoid spending money on extra packaging and shipping labels that you don’t need. As a consequence of consolidating your orders, you’ll also be practicing eco-friendly shipping. Less packaging = less waste and less weight on the truck!
How do you print one shipping label for multiple orders? With the Ship.com shipping platform, the merge order function makes it easy to combine multiple shipments into one label. In fact, it only takes a few clicks!
4. Apply lightweight packaging practices
This one is really simple. If you want to reduce your small business shipping costs - apply lightweight packing practices.
Try to use the smallest box and as little packing material as possible. Of course, you want your package to be secure. But extra packaging and in-filler means additional weight. And the heavier the shipment, the more expensive it is to send. Bigger boxes also have a larger dimensional weight. Ultimately, a greater dim weight will add more $ to the final cost.
In addition to this, custom packaging is a great way to minimize the overall weight of your package. By using a package that snugly fits your items, you’ll avoid the expense of extra dimensional weight. Plus, because the box is the exact right fit, you won’t have to fill it with packing materials. As a result, you’ll lessen the weight and the cost.
5. Opt for locally manufactured packaging
When you’re just looking at Cost Per Unit, purchasing packaging materials from abroad can look cheaper. However, looks can be deceiving.
There are tons of extra costs that come with ordering shipping supplies from overseas. This includes shipping, import fees, and much more. When you factor in all these additional fees, it’s actually very expensive to get your provisions from outside the US. So save yourself money and source supplies from a local manufacturer.
6. Order free shipping supplies
Want to know what’s better than cheap shipping supplies? Free ones. And you can pick up materials from multiple well-known carriers at no cost. Or even get them delivered to your door.
A wide range of free boxes and envelopes are available to order at the USPS store online. Generally, materials are delivered in boxes of 10 or 25. Alternatively, if your post office is nearby, you can drop in to pick up your provisions there. Other carriers like UPS also offer free supplies, including packaging, labels, and forms.
7. Know when to use flat-rate shipping
Another great way to minimize your small business shipping costs - take advantage of flat-rate shipping. Now, there are times when flat-rate shipping will save you money and times when it will be more expensive. So, it's important to know when to use it.
Flat-rate shipping gives a single rate based on a package's size rather than weight. Therefore, if you’re shipping small but heavy items, you can use a smaller package and save money.
It’s also a good idea to capitalize on flat rates if you’re shipping long distances. Usually, the further away you ship, the higher the cost. But flat-rate shipping enables you to ship long distances for one rate. Ultimately, this rate can work out cheaper vs. your carriers’ other services.
8. Trade boxes for poly mailers
If your eCommerce business sells small items like clothing - ditch boxes and switch to Poly-Mailers to save money on shipping.
By using Poly-Mailers, you can minimize the size of your packaging. And you’ll avoid charges for extra dimensional weight as a result. Plus, because Poly-Mailers are so compact, you’ll need less in-filler and packing material to protect and seal your item. Consequently, this will bring down the packages actual weight, as well as the shipping cost.
9. Arrange home pick ups
Most home business owners wouldn’t think of their gas usage as a shipping expense. Yet, if you’re making daily trips to the post-office to drop off shipments - it is.
In fact, lengthy trips to the post-office multiple times a day can be pretty costly. However, there’s an easy way to avoid doing this. Free USPS home pick-ups. Not only can home pick-ups save you a ton of money on gas, but they’re also way more time efficient. And they’re easy to arrange. Using Ship.com, you can schedule a home pick-up in just 2-clicks!
10. Save money on shipping labels with big discounts at ship.com
Finally, an excellent way to save your small business money on shipping is to use shipping software. Platforms like Ship.com receive huge discounts on shipping labels with major carriers.
Last year, Ship.com saved small business owners $1.9m on shipping expenses. Users of the platform can access up to 78% off UPS Ground® and up to 84% off USPS labels. As well as up to 73% off UPS 2nd Day Air® and UPS Next Day Air® services. So taking advantage of these discounts can drastically cut your shipping expenses.
Conclusion: There are several ways to reduce the impact of soaring small business shipping costs.
Shipping is expensive - granted. However, there are ways and means to reduce the costs of small business shipping.
This starts by choosing the least expensive carrier and service that fits your business needs. Then, it’s all about being smart with your packaging - reducing the amount of material used, combining orders, and taking advantage of free supplies. And on top of that, you can save more money on shipping by accessing heavily discounted UPS & USPS labels with software like Ship.com. Start your 14-Day Free Trial with Ship.com today and start saving - instantly!