Cheapest Shipping Rates for Your Small Business

Posted 5 years ago in Small Business Tips
by Tim Chaves

The average person doesn’t usually include shipping rates as a regular, consistent category in the budget. But you aren’t the average person—you’re a proud small business owner—which means you are shipping a considerable number of packages weekly.

But you’re also not getting the bulk shipping discounts like some bigger businesses that ship hundreds of packages every day.

If you find yourself in this middle ground, you probably fall under the category of “small business shipper.” This ranges from people who run their own online etsy shops to people with commercial locations and formal offices.

Here at ZipBooks, we want to make life easier for you, no matter what kind of small business you may run.

So how do you send out packages to your clients without having to pay a ridiculous amount in shipping rates?

Shipping Rate Factors to Consider

We’re here to help you find the cheapest shipping rates, so let’s walk through it. Here are the factors that go into determining shipping costs:

  • Delivery speed: You’ll be asked to choose between options like same-day, 2-day, overnight, priority post, parcel post, etc. How fast do you need it to get there? How much time are you working with? Usually the faster you need it to get there, the more expensive it will be.
  • Distance: Greater distances can cost more than local mail. International shipping is also a whole different ball game than just within the US. Tariffs and taxes vary depending on what country you are shipping to and from. Do some research before trying to send things internationally.
  • Weight: Light items are generally cheap to ship, but heavy items can be pretty pricey. Weight is a big factor in determining prices, so you might want to do some comparisons if you’re going to mostly be working with heavier items.
  • Size/Shape: Flat rate boxes and envelopes can save you a lot of money. As long as you can fit your product in there, you’ll pay the same no matter how heavy it is. However, if you have a really big or weird-shaped object, you might have to pay more to find a box or envelope to fit it. Small, traditionally-shaped objects are the easiest to ship.
  • Insurance level: Packages can get lost, stolen, or damaged in the post. Check to see what kinds of insurance your provider offers and compare prices with other services.
  • Tracking: A lot of clients like to be able to see where their packages are. It also allows you to keep track of your products so you might not need insurance. However, it does add to your shipping rates.
  • Handling fees: If you are dealing with fragile objects, you’ll have to pay handling fees to make sure your products aren’t broken when they get to your clients.

So now we’ve covered the basic factors that affect your pricing. Next, we’re going to show you how to pay the least amount possible to get your products where they need to go. Here are some tips and tricks to help you cut down your shipping prices.

Negotiate Rates

Though it might seem like rates are set in stone and way out of your price range, shipping rates are not fixed and inflexible. Don’t lose out on discounts because you feel like your business is too small to really take advantage of rate discounts. Depending on how many packages you tend to send out, you may be able to negotiate for a better price. Here’s how.

Go directly to the source—contact the shipping services. Set up accounts with them. Create a good connection, and then ask a representative about what sort of discount rates they offer. Sometimes there will be discounts general customers might not be aware of because the services don’t even list them online. Frequently, even sending as few as 100 packages per month can get you a discount.

Print Postage Beforehand

Postage can get kind of tricky when you’re working with packages and padded envelopes. You can’t just throw on a stamp and call it good. Post offices usually take advantage of this confusion by printing the postage at the office and charging you way more for it.

Do some research on your carrier’s website and print out the postage you need from home. Some services can even connect to software to help you print it all out correctly.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Box)

Post offices can charge way more for boxes, padded envelopes, business envelopes, tape, and packing material than other stores. Compare prices online to get the best deals so you don’t get ripped off for basic shipping supplies.

Schedule Pick-up and Delivery

Check to see if your carrier offers free pick-up and delivery. If so, this will save you the time, hassle, and money of going to a post office or your carrier’s store. However, if you choose to do this, you’ll have to arrange your schedule around the carrier’s pick-up schedule.

Pick Shipping Partners

You have a decision to make. You either settle down by partnering with one shipping service and get a discount for being exclusive with them. Or you can choose to increase competition between providers by using multiple shipping partners so your clients can choose the one they want you to use.

Standard providers include USPS, FedEx and UPS, but you could also consider small business partners like Shippo or ShipStation

About Tim

Tim is Founder and CEO of ZipBooks. He keeps his desk really nice and neat.

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