You can create an unexpected edge in profit and productivity by reducing your shipping rates. When it comes time to distinguish your business from the rest, edge out your competitors by keeping your shipping costs low.
1. Be Precise in Shipping Costs
If you’re shipping to customers throughout the country or even internationally, base your business shipping costs on the most accurate information you can get. Use a ruler to measure the length, height and width of your packages, and invest in a quality postage scale so you know exactly what your item weighs with packaging and shipping materials included. You can use this information to estimate shipping costs for buyers based on their location.
2. Utilize Online Shipping Tools
If your small business spends a lot of time preparing labels and calculating shipping rates, take advantage of online tools that keep you organized from beginning to end. The United States Postal Service offers the USPS Shipping Assistant, a downloadable online shipping tool that’s great for small business owners. Use it to print USPS forms, calculate domestic or international shipping costs, and track shipments all the way to your customers.
3. Explore All Your Shipping Options
When your small business is sending out a bundle of packages all at once, consider freight transportation. If you’re not shipping enough product to fill an entire truck, look into LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) freight carriers that typically haul shipments ranging from 100 to 20,000 pounds. If you’re only shipping a small number of packages at one time, shop around several different carriers based on the location, package dimensions and weight, and other factors. Consider organizations such as FedEx, UPS, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service. Small business specialists from these organizations can answer your questions and help you determine the shipping services that are best for your business. You can also negotiate with a single carrier for discounted rates if you agree to use that company exclusively.
4. Purchase Packaging in Bulk
If you ship a lot of similarly sized items, purchase shipping boxes, envelopes, bubble mailers and other packaging materials in bulk. By spending less money on packaging, you can pass the savings on to your customers by reducing your shipping and handling charges. Research the size regulations for packages sent through several carriers so you know what extra fees are involved if you exceed the size requirements. Consider using packaging provided by the carrier to make sure there are no surprise fees when you ship your product.
5. Choose Specific Shipping Days
How much time do you spend packaging and shipping every day? Consider designating specific days of the week to the job so you can package and ship items in larger batches. For example, shipping items only on Mondays and Fridays gives you time during the middle of the workweek to receive orders, craft your products and keep up with other office necessities. When you make fewer trips to the post office, you save money and increase productivity.
6. Pre-Package Popular Items
If your business sells specific products that are popular with customers, consider having the items pre-packaged and ready to ship. If a specific necklace sold by your hand-crafted jewelry business is a hot item around Valentine’s Day, package the items individually so they’re ready for quick shipping. When an order is received, simply attach a shipping label and get the item sent off to your customer. This saves your business time and gets the item to your clients quickly.
Whether you’re filling commissions, selling antiques on eBay or showing off handmade treasures on Etsy, your customers appreciate good value. By following these six tips, you can decrease your business’s shipping rates, and give your products an edge over your competitors.