5 Ways to Stop Overpaying on Shipping Costs

Published on March 24, 2022
Written by
Filed under Carrier Rates
Read time 9 Minutes

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” This may be a convenient expression for why you refuse to get rid of your 1994 Toyota Tercel, but it is not good for ecommerce sellers. Just because your workflow isn’t broken doesn’t mean it’s performing as it needs to. It’s easy to find discounts if you know where to look and what to avoid. Ultimately, there’s always a way a shipping method that can help you to ship for less. Finding ways to save on shipping costs is a great way to protect your profit margins. It can be easy, but it takes a little time.

1. Avoid Buying from the Post Office!

The USPS is a wonderful organization as far as a national shipping carrier goes. It is widely considered to be the best national courier on Earth. That being said, avoid buying postage at the post office. Don’t do it. The USPS offers complimentary packaging and a crisp label to put on your package, but this convenience comes at an inflated shipping rate. There are no discounts at the post office. If you’re a business, or even someone that ships more than once a week, you should not be paying retail rates. It’s possible to find a lower shipping cost than when you get to the post office.

2. Don’t Assume Flat Rate is Best

Priority Flat Rate packaging is a great way to save on heavy packages. And it’s really convenient for the clerk at the post office to recommend as a cost-effective packaging. However, Priority Flat Rate shipping is frequently only advantageous to the USPS.

USPS Flat Rate Box Type Rate
Flat Rate Envs 12-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ or smaller $7.40
Legal Flat Rate Envelope $7.70
Padded Flat Rate Envelope $8.00
Small Flat Rate Box $7.90
Medium Flat Rate Boxes $13.75
Large Flat Rate Box $19.30
APO/FPO/DPO Large FRB $17.80

For further dimensions and breakdowns on Flat Rate Package rates and other USPS services, click here.

Media Mail

If you’re shipping CDs, books, vinyl records, DVDs, Blu Rays, or bound materials over 8 pages in length, you can save a lot of money by using Media Mail as a great way of saving on shipping costs. This service is also available for parcels weighing up to 70 lbs. This is considered “Fourth Class Mail,” so it may take a couple of weeks to make final delivery. There are media mail rules to adhere to, so keep in mind that the USPS can open Media Mail parcels without a warrant to verify that you are trying to pass other merchandise off as “media content” in your shipment.

First Class Mail

First Class Mail lets you ship parcels weighing less than one pound (16 oz). It also doesn’t take much longer to ship than Priority Mail and is a fraction of the cost. Frequently, the difference for domestic parcels is 0-1 day difference in transit time.

Regional Rate Boxes vs Flat Rate Boxes

If you’re shipping over a parcel over 16 oz, Flat Rate isn’t always the best option. Depending on where you’re shipping to, Regional Rate Boxes offer an affordable alternative to Flat Rate Boxes. These are also available through the USPS

If your parcel is under 15 lbs, Regional Rate Boxes can be more affordable—particularly for nearer USPS Zones. Small Flat Rate boxes are always more affordable than Regional Rate boxes, however, Regional Rate Boxes are more affordable in the following circumstances:

Regional Rate A :
– Cheaper than Medium Flat Rate Boxes for parcels headed to Zone 8 and below.
-Is always cheaper than Large Flat Rate Boxes. (all 9 zones)

Regional Rate B :
-Cheaper than Medium Flat Rate Boxes for parcels headed to zone 5 and below.
-Cheaper than Large Flat Rate Boxes for parcels headed to zone 6 and below.

For the full list of Regional Rates available, read this blog post.For a bunch more tips on how to save on shipping, enter your email below to receive a free download of our “Cheapest Ways to Ship” guide.

If you are interested in saving on shipping costs—everything from saving on labels, adding more affordable shipping services, to buying the right equipment, our Cheapest Way To Ship ebook has all the info you need!

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3. Use your own Packaging

Because Flat Rate packaging only works with Flat Rate services, other services require you to provide your own packaging. But don’t worry, there are many affordable ways to buy your own packaging.

Uline.com offers affordable packaging and packing materials. Because they offer price breaks based on order volume, they have an added bonus over other services like Amazon.

Poly Mailers

Not everything needs a cardboard box. If you are shipping items that aren’t fragile, poly mailers are a cost-effective and easily storable packaging material. Even Amazon uses them! They don’t require assembly and are frequently self-sealing. Anyone that runs a small business knows, saving time equates to saving money.

4. Invest in a Good Thermal Printer

Another way to save time when shipping is to use more effective equipment—particularly thermal printers. Their initial cost may seem high, but they are designed specifically for printing labels. And they do it quickly, easily, and affordably. For more information on our favorite models of printers, and to see which one could best accommodate your business needs, check out our comparison of the DYMO 4XL, Zebra ZD420, and the Rollo thermal printer.

5. Use a Shipping Software Like ShipStation

The final way you can save time and money on shipping costs is to use a shipping management system. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, was this all just a sales pitch for ShipStation?” Not exactly.

The reason shipping softwares like ShipStation are so effective is because we save you time and money on order fulfillment. Features like rate calculators and batch shipping let you compare rates for all your carrier accounts in real time and then print all your labels at discounted rates together. This more than where your orders and carriers meet, it’s where saving time and money meet! If you use ShipStation, you get a free Stamps.com account that gives you Commercial Base Pricing rates at no additional cost. Getting your own Stamps.com account outside of ShipStation would be $17.99 a month. If you’d like to read more advantages of using a shipping software, check out our ebook that goes over everything you need to know.

When you already have your own labels printed, going to the post office is a breeze. That in and of itself is worth a few bucks a month. But give our 30-day free trial a spin and see how much time and money you can save.

Save time and money with ShipStation the best online shipping platform for your ecommerce business.

Written by

James Messer

James Messer is a copywriter specializing in shipping, logistics, and ecommerce.

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