Finding the best shipping option for your ecommerce business can be overwhelming – Should you go with FedEx, UPS or USPS? Or perhaps do a mix of carriers? There is nothing worse than feeling like you are overspending on shipping, but don’t know how to get around it. Our partner ShippingEasy understands how troublesome this can be and has written the following article on the four most common shipping mistakes and how to find better alternative shipping options.
Too many online businesses overspend on shipping because they’re unaware of the options available. Here are some common shipping pitfalls with alternatives and suggestions to help businesses save money.
Pitfall No. 1: You use a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate® Box for everything you ship.
USPS Flat Rate Boxes offer a simple way to ship. If you can fit it in the box, it ships for the same price every time. However, before you adopt this method across all of your shipments, there are some cases where another option might be even more affordable.
Alternative 1: USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate® Boxes
USPS Regional Rate Boxes work very similar to Flat Rate Boxes. The only difference is that they include three weight tiers (compared to Flat Rate’s acceptance of any weight), and the shipping rate is based on which shipping zone is your final destination. USPS provides the boxes for free, and you will see the most savings if your shipment is headed to Zones 1-4.
Here are some scenarios where Regional Rate pricing can be a cost-effective option:
To learn more, read our page on Regional Rate Boxes.
Alternative 2: USPS Priority Mail®
USPS Priority Mail is often the cheapest way to get a package to its destination in 1-3 days, tracking included. When you are shipping lighter packages, Priority Mail is often a better option than Flat Rate, especially when the package comes in at 4 lbs. or less.
In the example below, Priority Mail beats Flat Rate if your shipment is too large for a Small Flat Rate Box. There are many combinations and variables that determine the rates, so using order fulfillment applications like ShippingEasy can make this process easier.
3 lb. Package, Houston to Miami:
Priority Mail: $8.65
Small Flat Rate Box: $5.20
Medium Flat Rate Box: $10.65
Pitfall No. 2: You’re using FedEx SmartPost® and UPS SurePost®
Some online businesses use SmartPost and SurePost for deliveries. These two services start the delivery process with FedEx/UPS, and then use the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the package to its final destination. There are many advantages to a setup like this, including the ability to utilize the strengths of each service, and more affordable shipping.
Alternative: The U.S. Postal Service
This year, many online sellers are shipping their packages from start to finish with the U. S. Postal Service, since a lot of the benefits of using FedEx and UPS are steadily being matched by the USPS.
Some USPS services that rival or beat SmartPost and SurePost on features and price:
- USPS Parcel Select: The closest service to SmartPost and SurePost in terms of features. Has the benefit of being able to ship heavy items as well.
- Priority Mail: There are instances where USPS Priority Mail can be more cost-effective than SmartPost and SurePost while offering similar features.
Also, when comparing services, keep in mind that USPS has improved its package tracking capabilities.
Pitfall No. 3: You aren’t considering dimensional weight pricing
If you’ve shipped with UPS and FedEx at all in 2015, then you’ve probably noticed dimensional weight is now considered across all Ground shipments. This means that in some cases, if the dimensional weight of a package is higher than its actual weight, you’ll have to pay the higher rate of the two. You can find the dimensional weight pricing of a package with our Dimensional Weight Calculator.
How to make sure you’re not overspending: Measure and weigh your packages. Also, compare the shipping cost of the package for all carriers: FedEx, UPS and USPS.
Pitfall No. 4: Your packaging is driving up your costs
Meaning, you’re putting everything in boxes.
Alternative: Poly Mailers
If you are shipping something fairly lightweight and not fragile, using a box might be overkill to package the item. Poly mailers (the grey envelopes made from polyethylene film) work great for lowering shipping costs. They don’t require any type of air-pouch or packing peanuts to pad your item, and if they are lighter than 13 ounces they will likely qualify for USPS First-Class Mail. These mailers offer solid protection and are water-, puncture- and tear-resistant. For those items requiring a bit more protection, you might try padded poly mailers. You can buy them for pennies online.
Shipping can be complicated and expensive, and little costs sneak their way in at every step of the process. The major carriers continuously update their services based on the unique needs of ecommerce businesses. Shipping software can help select the right options for your business and reduce the time and money you spend on shipping. That way, online sellers can get back to why they got into ecommerce in the first place — to sell stuff!
For more ShippingEasy advice on shipping, download The Definitive Guide to Ecommerce Shipping here.