Save Money on Shipping: 9 Tips

There are some expenses that your company can’t—and sometimes shouldn’t—try to cut to the bone. Legal and accounting fees, for example. Employee compensation and benefits. The brand of coffee you serve in the break room.

You can, though, find more economical ways to ship the products you sell – without looking cheap. The way your packages look when they arrive at their destination and the timeliness of your deliveries are two of the many things that customers consider when they form an impression of you.

Can you economize and impress at the same time? Yes.

Start by developing a relationship with a small business specialist at every carrier you use. This may be the single best way to:

  • Create your own shipping policies (what carrier should you use for each shipment? When do you send packages by air, and when will ground suffice?),
  • Identify a go-to person for queries, and,
  • Save money in the long run.

You can also use automated tools when making shipping decisions. There are several websites that will calculate the optimal shipping method for your packages, like Shipping Sidekick,  iShip, and ShipGooder.

It goes without saying, but match your envelopes and boxes as closely as possible to their innards. Besides the fact that you’re spending more money to ship if you use an unnecessarily large container, it can annoy your customers. They have to dispose of the packing materials, and they may wonder whether you’re wasting money that could bring the product prices down.

How much time do employees spend answering queries about deliveries that haven’t arrived? Since that time translates into money, employ a system that sends automatic updates on shipping progress. If at all possible, use one that includes tracking information.

Do you sell fragile items? Your breakage rate and returns will be minimal if you take the time upfront to devise smart packing configurations. Your carriers can help you with this.

Once you’ve done some comparison-shopping, you might be able to use one carrier exclusively. This isn’t feasible for some businesses—and it might end up costing more—but if you can coordinate incoming and outgoing shipments, you’ll save both money and staff time. This may also make you eligible for incentives and discounts.

It’s nice to have boxes with your company’s name printed on them, but customers will likely be just as happy to receive their goods in the free boxes and envelopes that the major carriers offer. To ensure that you’re not caught short, order these shipping supplies in bulk and have them delivered to you.

Make returns and exchanges easy, and customers will be more likely to buy from you again.

Finally, make sure that all employees who have anything to do with order-taking and shipping understand the importance of address accuracy. Ask them to double- and triple-check. Having a package come back to you because the label was wrong wastes money and threatens customer goodwill. If your sales volume is high, consider investing in technology that checks addresses for validity and suggests alternatives.

Smart shipping is always a balancing act; you have to both minimize costs and satisfy your customers. Acknowledging the importance of both is a good start.


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