Solutions for More Efficient and Cost-Effective Retail Shipping
Many of the retail sales at brick and mortar stores and essentially all e-commerce retail sales involve shipping the products that are sold to customers. Historically, the expense, time, and hassle involved in packing and shipping have placed a large drag on small business efficiency and overhead expenses. In this post, we’ll look at some modern practical solutions for small retail businesses that ship products to customers.
Pay Careful Attention To Packaging Choices
Everyone knows that heavier packages are more expensive to ship than lighter ones. However, many businesses are not aware that package dimensions can also be used to calculate shipping rates. Even though the process of calculating rates can be difficult to understand in many cases, it is always a good policy to use the smallest size container possible. Padded or bubble wrap mailers can often perform just as well as a cardboard box for many products. Larger boxes are also more susceptible to damage in
shipping and require more expensive filler materials as well.
Use USPS For Small Shipments
For shipments that weigh under 13 ounces, the USPS is the cheapest shipping option you will find. Over the years the USPS has become more reliable when shipping small packages, and any lost packages will usually be made up for through the savings on shipping costs. For some additional costs, USPS Priority Mail will deliver small packages (and larger boxes weighing up to 70 pounds) in the same 1 to 3 business day window as First Class Mail. The USPS will also provide free boxes and $50 of free insurance for qualifying Priority Mail packages.
Use Shipping Software
Especially for online retailers who use multiple carriers, shipping management software is an essential tool for keeping shipping organized. Recent improvements in shipping software will calculate cost options across multiple carriers and streamline printing of postage and shipping labels. Some of the more popular shipping software platforms available include ShippingEasy, OrderCup, ShipStation, and Stamps.com from USPS.
Maintain Accounts With Multiple Shipping Carriers
Even if most of your products ship in packages weighing a pound or less, you should diversify beyond USPS with your business’s shipping options. For larger shipments, costs can vary greatly between carriers based on weight, shipping location, and other factors. While the USPS is generally efficient and timely, for some packages you may require the more reliable tracking and shipping service offered by other carriers like FedEx and UPS. You are also likely to need expanded shipping options for some customers who will only accept shipments from certain carriers, regardless of cost.
Use Sufficient and Quality Packing Material To Avoid Loss
While postage efficiency often boils down to a simple cost analysis, packing products for shipping with the cheapest material may well not be the best choice. Using cheap packaging material in insufficient quantity can easily lead to substantial shipping related losses. Shipping with any carrier involves significant risk of shipping damage through the effects of transportation and human error or indifference. The best protection against damaged goods and the expense of reshipping and returns is using quality packing materials in an amount sufficient to cushion and protect your products.
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