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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Save on Shipping Costs

by EasyPost
Woman receiving a delivery at her business

As costs across the board continue to rise, it's stressful to think about how to stay afloat as a small business. Inflation, increasing manufacturing costs, and shipping rate hikes are all nerve-racking concerns to navigate. Today, we're here to reassure you that despite these increases, small businesses can save on shipping costs without bending over backward.

High shipping rates are a weight on customers and businesses alike. Between inflation, increasing manufacturing costs, and overall rate increases, many small businesses struggle to find ways to save on shipping. But despite what you may think it is possible to reduce shipping costs without bending over backward.

If you're an employee at a small business looking to save on shipping costs, you're in the right place. Keep on reading for a full overview of why shipping rates are so high and what you can do to reduce those costs.

What are shipping costs?

Shipping costs are any of the fees associated with fulfilling and mailing a package. In the ecommerce realm, this typically includes packaging materials, carrier rates, and any additional charges that occur throughout this process. Shipping costs can vary from order to order depending on a variety of factors, including the size and weight of the goods, and the distance a parcel travels to reach its destination.

How are shipping costs calculated?

As previously mentioned, a variety of factors go into determining shipping costs. As far as supplies go, your spending will vary depending on the materials you choose. Corrugated boxes are going to have a different cost than poly mailers. Depending on your products and priorities, you can choose the materials and price point that works for you.

Once materials are taken care of, your carrier will determine the majority of the remaining shipping costs. The main factors carriers consider when determining shipping rates are a parcel's weight, dimensions, and destination. Understanding how carriers charge for shipping can help you find ways to save that will continue to add up over time.

How can small businesses save on shipping costs?

Small businesses can reduce their shipping costs in a variety of ways. Some methods may be easier than others, but here are five we typically recommend to our users to help them start saving.

1. Use free shipping supplies from your carriers

Did you know that some carriers will provide shippers supplies free of charge? This is a quick way to cut down on your total shipping costs. Carriers like USPS and LSO provide boxes, tubes, and mailers delivered right to your door. Be sure to check with your carrier to see what offers they have available.

2. Ship with multiple carriers

Having more than one carrier is critical to a small business. Not only does it allow them to ship with whoever has the best rate for their package, but it also can increase efficiency and reliability. Meeting delivery times during the holiday season is difficult on one carrier, but by diversifying carrier options a small business can more consistently meet their customers' expectations. Whether you're looking for regional, national, or international carriers, exploring options with multi-carrier shipping can lead to better savings and reliability down the line.

Man checking and scanning packages in the back of a van

3. Get shipping discounts based on volume

If you're regularly sending out packages, you shouldn't be paying the retail price on shipping rates. Even small businesses can negotiate with carriers for discounted rates on their shipping volume. If you haven't already, you absolutely should reach out to your carrier and see what discounts they can offer you.

If you can't get the rate down, don't feel discouraged. Oftentimes, shipping software, APIs, and programs already have pre-negotiated rates that they can extend to you regardless of your personal shipping volume.

For example, through EasyPost you can ship with USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and LSO at a discounted rate. Best of all, there are no fees or volume minimums to access these discounts, so you'll definitely want to take advantage of them.

4. Reduce the size and weight of your packages

Shipping costs are usually determined by service level, cubic size, weight, and zone. You can't choose where your customers want to receive their packages and oftentimes it's difficult to be competitive without offering fast shipping. However, you can control the size and weight of the packages as they go out your door.

Packing goods in smaller boxes will reduce the overall size and empty space to fill, and opting for lighter-weight materials like bubble mailers will bring down the weight. Plus, more compact packages mean less waste both from the packaging itself and transport, leading to more carbon-friendly shipping.

Group of people packing packages

5. Choosing the right parcel type

When shipping with USPS using the right parcel type can make a difference. In some cases, flats can be cheaper to ship than parcels. Always check to see which classifications meet your needs and will give you a better price. A little research can go a long way in helping small businesses find savings.

For example, if you're shipping any media, such as books or CDs, and not in a hurry, you can use USPS Media Mail for significant savings. Be sure to check with USPS guidelinesopens in new tab to see if your package qualifies.

Your small business shipping strategy

No two small businesses are quite alike-especially in ecommerce. Designing a shipping strategy can help a business save on shipping costs for years to come, but these changes don't happen overnight. You need a fast, flexible, and reliable logistics operation to make all of these moving parts come together. And that's where EasyPost really shines.

EasyPost helps thousands of companies, ranging in size from multinational Fortune 100 companies to small neighborhood stores, ship billions of packages around the world. Using our suite of shipping APIs, users can print labels with the best uptime in the industry, find the best shipping rates across 100+ carriers, implement real-time tracking updates through custom-branded tracking pages, and more.

Get in touch with one of our shipping experts today to learn more about how switching to EasyPost can help your small business reduce shipping costs.