If you’re ready to ship, you’ve obviously made a sale (or a few!), so congratulations! Hopefully you made a little profit as well. After all, that is the point, right? Here are a few helpful tips about shipping to help keep your shipping costs as low as possible. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.
Tip #1 – Invest In A Thermal Label Printer
In the very beginning, you can get away with printing your labels on a standard ink jet / laser printer. But when the volume starts to pick up you’ll quickly see your ink costs sky rocket! Although the upfront cost to buy a thermal label printer can be a little high, they don’t rely on ink which saves a lot of money in the long run. Plus, they print faster and your time is valuable.
Dymo is a very popular brand. They have various models in a range of prices and the print quality is great. It’s also important to note that the standard label size is 4”x6”. This size is accepted by major carriers such as UPS, USPS, and FedEx.
Tip #2 – Use Media Mail For Applicable Items
If you are shipping media items such as magazines, books, video tapes, CD’s, or DVD’s, you’ll save a lot of money with media mail. Media mail is an inexpensive way to ship certain items through USPS.
The maximum weight allowed for a package to be considered ‘Media Mail’ is 70lbs. If your customer has ordered more than 70lbs of media items, it will probably still save you money to split the shipment into 2 boxes (each weighing less than 70lbs) and continuing forward with media mail.
Tip #3 – Collect FREE (or cheap) Boxes
Instead of pending a small fortune on fancy custom-made boxes, you can explore the option of using free or cheap boxes. Some shipping services like the UPS, FedEx, and USPS provide free boxes to clients for certain types of shipping. You’ll want to check with your preferred carrier.
You can reuse boxes sent to you via online orders you’ve recently placed. And, you can also collect free boxes from stores and dumpsters. Whatever you do, ensure that the boxes you use are clean, strong enough, and corrugated.
Tip #4 – Plan Ahead, To The Best Of Your Ability
An important quality of a successful business person is his/her ability to plan ahead. If you’re selling on a platform such as Ebay or Amazon where each order is typically a single item, prep each item for shipping before you even list it. This will enable you and the customer to know the exact shipping costs right up front. By the time the sale is made all you will need to do is affix the shipping label and send it off.
If you are selling on a platform where each order could contain multiple items, you will want to weigh and measure each item up front. It’s also a good idea to have a list of your current box sizes and how much each of them weigh. Depending on the size of the box, the box alone could dramatically affect the total weight of the shipment.
Tip #5 – Cut Down Your Boxes
The bigger your box is, the more you’ll pay for shipping. In a perfect world, we would always have the perfect size box available. However, if you have no choice but to use a box that’s much larger than you actually need, it’s best to cut it down to fit the item(s) you’re shipping.
This is easily done using a box sizing tool. With this handy little helper, you can reduce the height of your boxes to fit the contents, thus saving you tons when it comes to dimensional weight. You’ll also save by using less paper and other supplies as filler. The box sizing tool doesn’t usually come with very clear directions. So, here is a video we found on YouTube to help you learn how to use it:
Tip #6 – Invest In a Shipping Scale, Don’t Guess
Unless all of your orders are identical, you need to know the exact size and weight of each package you ship. And unless you possess one of those magical powers of guessing weights (like the people at carnivals), you need to invest in a scale. If you try to guess, you’ll probably be off. Depending on how you shipped it, you could be running the risk of the customer being charged the difference or the package being returned to you. And worse than that, you might accidently pay more than you have to.
Tip #7 – Double Check Everything, Twice
No matter how busy you get, how urgent the order is, or how sure you think you are, it always pays to double check your labels for errors. The last thing you need is to pay extra to reship a package that was sent to the wrong person or the wrong address. These are costly mistakes and can easily be avoided by simply double checking the label before shipping. It probably wouldn’t hurt to double check the contents as well. You don’t want to risk having to ship a 2nd box because an item(s) got left out of the 1st one by mistake.
Tip #8 – Appearance Is Important
In ecommerce, the only visual image our customers have of our brand is through our online presence and our packaging. Give a good impression by making sure your packaging is neat and clean. And remember to include some type of a Thank You note when shipping your orders. The extra thought will go a long way towards enticing your customer to order from you again.
If you have anything to add, join our group on Facebook: The Break Room | For Ecommerce Entrepreneurs Only, and let us know. And, please share this article in your favorite social media circles. You never know when the information could help someone else.