How to get the best shipping rates for your startup

Image of a plane flying above a shipping dock

As many as 75 percent of online retailers consider the cost of shipping to be their biggest operational challenge. When it comes to your shipping rates, even saving a few cents per package can make a big difference on your bottom line.  

You can reduce your shipping costs by analyzing  your choice of carrier, service level, box size, shipping software, and more for savings opportunities. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the best shipping rates for your startup.

Focus on the shipping rates for your best-selling products

Start by identifying your most popular orders and looking for ways to save on these shipments. If you’re just starting an ecommerce business, target a few items that you think will sell well. Closely monitor performance over the next year.                

Check the box sizes

First, look for ways to minimize the box size. If your product is extremely popular, you may want to purchase customized boxes to fit the items perfectly in order to get a cheaper postage rate. Especially if your package weighs less than 20 pounds and is about the size of a shoebox, it can qualify for USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing, which provides significant discounts based on the package’s dimensions. Also consider using padded envelopes and poly mailers. These packaging types are usually more cost effective because they take up less space in the delivery vehicle, so the carriers are able to transport more packages at once.

Minimize the weight of your packages

Weight is a huge factor in the cost of shipping. Unfortunately, a package’s weight is hard to manipulate, because most of the package’s weight is already determined by the product weight. You have to get creative to decrease package weight. That might mean you should send two different packages to benefit from the affordable service levels that support lightweight packages. Whenever possible, take advantage of cost-effective delivery options like USPS First Class Package Service for packages up to 16 ounces.

Leverage special service levels

There are many other unique service levels that will help keep some money in your pocket. For example, if you’re shipping to a local address, consider a regional carrier, like AxleHire, or a USPS Regional Rate Box. If you have a small, heavy product, see if it fits in a USPS Flat Rate Box. It’s a great option since the product weight won’t impact the cost of the product, letting you avoid the hefty price tag.

If you only ship educational material, like books or instructive DVDs, consider USPS Media Mail. It’s very strict about the contents you can ship. But if your packages qualify, you’ll save a lot of money.

Consider multiple locations or warehouses

The distance packages travel is one of the key factors of your shipping rates. Longer distances between the origin and destination addresses usually mean more expensive shipping costs.

Take a look at where your packages are going and optimize around the most-popular destinations. If you have a majority of packages getting shipped to California, consider renting warehouse space in the state and leveraging a mix of regional and national carriers to deliver your packages locally.

Compare shipping rates in real time with a shipping software

After you’ve done your research and prepped your packages, you’ll still want to compare rates with each package you ship. Find a service that lets you compare shipping rates in real time between international, national, and regional carriers. That way, you can have peace of mind that you’re getting the best rate with every package.

About Shippo 

Shippo is a multi-carrier shipping software that lets you compare shipping rates for more than 55 carriers worldwide. With Shippo, you can also manage orders, automatically send tracking information, and seamlessly process returns.

Photo credit: VanveenJF on Unsplash

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