How to Reduce eCommerce Shipping Costs

by
July 12, 2019

Ecommerce shipping costs are a major expense for any business selling online. When you’re first starting out, you may be buying your labels at the post office—hoping to one day have a driver instead hop down out of their truck and come to you to scan in your outgoing parcels. And, honestly, getting from “next in line” to “Morning, Sam!” can happen more quickly than you’d think.

We at ShipStation know how complicated shipping can be. But there’s no reason that your business should be held back by something as secondary as shipping. When you have to spend less time figuring out how to keep shipping costs low, you can spend more time growing your business. There are a few things you can do to increase your profit margins and gain a competitive edge over your competition:

  • Use online shipping
  • reduce shipping costs
  • Shop around with multiple carriers

Use Online Shipping

Using an online shipping platform like ShipStation is the most immediate way you can save money on ecommerce shipping. The difference between retail prices you pay at a post office can be wildly more expensive than the Commercial Base rates you pay through a shipping software. If you ship several parcels per week, the cost of a shipping software can be offset simply through the money you save on postage. Let’s not forget the adage “Time is money.” The time-saving effects of online shipping are also advantageous enough to make the switch.

As with most great tools, shipping softwares have a bit of a learning curve. It’s hard to hit the ground running with something as complex as ecommerce shipping. If you’ve used things UPS WorldShip or FedEx Shipping Manager, you are on your way. But once you get over that initial hump of learning the tools and features, you’ll wonder how you ever got through the day without it. Comparing calculated rates to find the best shipping method for your orders eventually becomes second nature, “Oh, a 2 lb. box going to Seattle? Use a Regional Rate Box A.” You won’t have to deal with the clerk at the post office upselling you on a Flat Rate service that may not be the best option for you, or overlooking that you could just use Media Mail for that book or CD you’re shipping. Compare them all at once and see for yourself!

Reuse Packaging

It may seem obvious, but re-using packaging is a great way to cut costs when shipping. Boxes experience wear and tear throughout their lifecycle. And the end consumer typically doesn’t notice the difference between a scuff on the corner of the box coming from its final delivery or if it was from a return shipment that you repurposed. Just make sure that the contents within its protective outer box are safe and sound. Additionally, don’t ever ship a parcel in the manufacturer’s box. This is a great way to get a parcel stolen from a customer’s doorsteps. Furthermore, many insurance providers don’t accept claims for shipments in a manufacturer’s box.

Use Cost Effective Cushioning

Ways to ensure this are to use effective and affordable packing materials such as brown paper fill. Packing peanuts are a thing of the past and bubble wrap is mostly just fun to pop. There are more environmentally sound and affordable ways to transport goods. And at the end of the day, customers just want to get their package in one piece.

Brown paper fill works well because it is malleable and cheap. Simply stuff it in around the fragile contents of the box and make sure that it doesn’t jostle. Void fill is important for fragile material because roads are bumpy and no one’s perfect—you want to make sure any impact or dings don’t happen to your parcel’s contents. Sure, this larger, slightly heavier packaging technique can cause shipping rates to be a tad higher, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to paying for a return label for broken merchandise.  

Wanna learn more helpful tips on how to save on shipping? Click the link below to learn more about the cheapest ways to ship!

Combine Shipping Costs with Your Product

88% of customers prefer to shop on websites that offer free shipping. Makes sense, right? Well, as an ecommerce seller, you need to find ways to offer free shipping without breaking the bank. The most common way this happens is to inject the shipping costs into the item price. There’s no such thing as a free meal, and there’s no such thing as free shipping—someone’s gotta pay and it’s usually the customer. You have to keep your margins in mind. And if you ship items that are small and inexpensive to ship, a slight price increase may be unnoticeable to the customer. Research your competitors to see how they handle shipping costs, while the cheapest cost usually wins, if you can’t go too low, find a way to spin it more positively. First Class Mail typically doesn’t take more than 3-5 business days to make final delivery. And this is where a shipping software can really come in handy.

Offer “Same Day Shipping” for all orders. This is not the same as “Same Day Delivery” but it’s a good hook for your customers. It just means you’ll ship the order out on the same day as when the customer placed the order. A shipping software can reduce the shipping time so much that you can print the labels from anywhere on earth. Even if you ecommerce isn’t your day job, you can always print labels using something like a mobile app. This will send the customer an email notification and you can ship the parcel when you get home.

Speak with Multiple Carriers

Not only does shipping with multiple carriers give you a broader range of rates—helping you find the best possible rates. Using multiple carriers gives you more leverage in negotiating your rates. If you ship predominantly with FedEx, consider shifting 10-30% of your shipping volume to UPS or USPS. Carriers negotiate lower rates with you to make your volume through them increase. You want to make sure you do enough business with preferred carriers that you establish a good amount of volume you do with them. Also do enough business with other carriers to show what you could do with these preferred carriers. This is easier to negotiate with carriers like FedEx and UPS.

Use Carrier Provided Packaging

Carriers incentivize customers to use their more premium services by offering complimentary packagings. As such, these packagings tend to be service-restricted. So, if you get Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes, don’t use them with First Class Mail shipments. They will get returned to you.

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