6 Ways Your Business Can Save on Shipping Costs

Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Retail, Small Business Efficiency [ 0 Comments ]

Rising gas prices affect more than just folks with long commutes or families worried about how they’re going to pay for the drive to grandma’s house for the holidays.

Small business owners have felt the pinch, too, especially when it comes to shipping costs, as companies like FedEx and UPS tack on fuel surcharges every time energy costs increase.

Luckily, there are many ways businesses can pinch pennies in the midst of a busy shipping season.

We rounded up six simple ways you can save on shipping costs:

1. Mail in bulk: The USPS offers discounted rates for commercial First Class mail and advertising mail to businesses and organizations. To qualify, you must purchase a mailing permit for $190, pay an annual mailing fee of $190, be shipping at least 200 pieces or 50 pounds of identical mail and be willing to sort the mail yourself. The savings are significant, with bulk rates going for around half that of standard first class mail (45 cents per letter), and even more if your organization is a nonprofit. To get started you’ll need mail trails or bags provided for free by the USPS, a mailing list that’s in a computer database, and USPS “Pave-approved” sorting software.

2. Buy shipping supplies in bulk: Skip last-minute stops to a retailer to purchase marked-up boxes, envelopes, labels, tape and other packing material. Buy your supplies online instead for a significant cost savings. For instance, one bulk supplier sells 100 4 x 4 x 4 brown boxes for $18; the same boxes from a popular office supply store would cost almost $30. You can also stock up on free Priority Mail flat rate boxes and envelopes in a variety of sizes from the USPS, available in packs of 10 or 25.

3. Use a postage meter: For a company that does a high volume of shipping, a postage meter can not only save money, but also time. These devices weigh packages, calculate the exact postage required for each shipment (to the penny), and print labels. No more need for small business owners to round up their estimated postage fees — a practice that can result in significant costs over time. And, since you won’t need to stamp envelopes or make daily trips to the post office, you’ll gain back more time to devote to your business. They’re also key to streamlining your next bulk mail campaign.

4. Use light packing material: There’s a reason businesses love bubble wrap and those styrofoam packing peanuts and inserts. They offer reliable protection for fragile items and are super lightweight, which saves money on shipping. On the flipside, both cost more than using recycled material, like shredded newspaper.

5. Use recycled packing materials: Rather than buying packing peanuts, bubble wrap or the like to protect your shipments, save packing materials you’ve received from incoming shipments or make your own packing material by shredding newspapers or magazines. With the holidays coming up, consider saving that garbage bag full of wrapping and tissue paper your kids tore through to use for shipping. It will save you money, help the environment, and show your customers that you think outside the box (no pun intended). Heck you can even print your shipping labels on scrap paper and ship less fragile items in reused cereal boxes.

6. Do your research: Just knowing all your shipping options can help you find savings. The Small Business Association recommends visiting the websites for major shipping organizations (ie: USPS, DHL, FedEx, UPS) or consulting with their small business liaisons to determine which provide services most suited to your needs. Check back in periodically to be sure your shipping provider continues to meet your needs and is the most cost effective.

Learn more about shipping for your small business on ResourceNation.com.

Photo courtesy of Stock.Xchng


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