Anyone who runs a small business from home knows that the job involves wearing numerous hats, from planning your shipping process to financing to marketing. But your client and their overall satisfaction are among your most crucial priorities.
Like any small business, your company’s lifeblood is its ability to achieve positive experiences from your initial interaction with a customer to the day their order hits their doorstep.
After they’ve placed their order and are zealously anticipating their package, don’t allow a mishap to interrupt the trust you’ve fought to establish. That’s why you need to reexamine your shipping strategy.
So strap yourself on; this guide will help you master the small business shipping process efficiently and effectively.
Shipping Options for Small Businesses
The first step for small business owners to streamline their shipping strategy is understanding the available options. Generally, shipping companies can help you maintain great customer relationships through timely order deliveries and reasonable rates. Moreover, some providers offer inventory management and logistical assistance, which can be valuable to your shipping strategy.
So, which are your best options? Let’s explore:
Best Business-to-Business Shipping: ShipSimple.ca
ShipSimple.ca specializes in Business-to-Business (B2B) shipping, making it an ideal choice for small businesses looking to deliver their products to other companies. They offer flexible and affordable shipping rates, making it easier for businesses to manage their budgets. Additionally, ShipSimple.ca provides efficient tracking services, ensuring that your packages reach their destination in a timely manner. Their commitment to prompt and reliable service can help you maintain trust and build stronger relationships with your business partners.
Best Overall: United States Postal Service (USPS)
USPS stands out as a top shipping service for small businesses. The company caters to domestic and international shipments and maintains a 2-8 days delivery time. In addition, you’ll get shipping discounts and loyalty credits based on your shipping volume alongside free business website APIs. The only setback of the United States Postal Service is the added cost of deliveries during holidays and on Sundays.
Best for Small Packages: Sendle
If you specialize in small packages, Sendle can make a great pick. The company offers competitive pricing for domestic and international shipping to 180 countries and guarantees 1-5 days’ delivery time via Sendle Preferred. In addition, Sendle is completely carbon neutral and offers an 80% discount for at least 200 monthly packages and free pickup with no subscription fees. But the company limits these benefits to a maximum of 20 pounds.
Best for Large Packages: UPS
On the other hand, small business owners dealing with large packages can find immense value in UPS. The first attraction to the company is its competitive shipping costs, starting at $21.05 for large flat-rate boxes. You also get comprehensive shipping resources and guidance, dedicated business tools, and same-day delivery for some locations. However, some of its APIs may not work on customer-facing sites.
Best for International Shipping: DHL Express
DHL Express can be your ideal shipping partner if you’re shipping internationally. The firm boasts robust expertise and vast global trade resources and guarantees delivery times as soon as the next business day. Besides its affordable international shipping costs, DHL Express offers various plans for expedited delivery, ensuring prompt arrival. But unfortunately, the service comes with multiple optional service fees and surcharges.
Best for E-Commerce Business: ShipBob
ShipBob stands out for e-commerce agencies thanks to its comprehensive logistics services, including warehousing, inventory management, and fulfillment. Your company can save on shipping costs as the company has negotiated discounted rates with the four major shipping carriers. Additionally, you’ll benefit from ShipBob’s free small business shipping software with seamless integrations to popular platforms like Walmart, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, and Wix.
Best Affordable Option: EasyPost
Budget is as important as other key considerations, and any small business would love to work with the most affordable, reliable shipping agency. If this is your case, then EasyPost can fit your preferences, offering a platform to compare domestic and international shipping costs and speeds from over 100 shipping carriers. Their API is free for up to 120,000 shipments annually, so you can quickly find your most cost-effective shipping option.
How to Reduce Shipping Costs for A Small Business
Shipping costs can significantly affect your firm’s profitability. While most small businesses stick to the bare minimum, it’s also important not to sacrifice user experience.
Here are some practical small business shipping best practices to get it right:
Reduce The Weight of Packages
You’ll definitely spend more when moving heavy shipping materials unless you’re leveraging flat-rate shipping. Generally, carriers consider both weight and package dimensions in their pricing. So customize your packaging to smaller dimensions, leverage SIOC (ships in your own container) packaging, and reuse old boxes.
Ship It, Don’t Mail It.
Next, you should avoid using stamps on packages, which can lead to higher shipping costs. Instead, opt for paid shipping labels with tracking capabilities. Doing this will add value for customers. In addition, keep packages simple with clear and legible address information on the shipping labels.
Know Your Shipping Zones
Shipping packages pass through different shipping zones, which carriers define based on geography using ordered numbering or address aggregation. Most shipping companies calculate zones based on the destination zip code. So familiarize yourself with your shipping zones and the cheapest routes.
Shipping In Bulk Or Very Large Packages
You can opt for freight shipping if you’re sending heavy, large packages. This method allows transporting up to 200 kg via land, air, or sea. You’ll choose the most affordable transportation option between full-load, partial-load, and less-than-truckload (LTL).
Find Discounted Shipping Materials
Major shipping agencies offer free or discounted boxes and envelopes to small businesses for packing supplies. Thus, you can save shipping costs in the long run by buying packing supplies in bulk. Additionally, leverage any free shipping materials to reduce your per-shipment costs.
Get Discounted Shipping Rates
Apart from discounted shipping materials, you can also leverage discounts from carriers to lower your ultimate shipping costs. Most shipping companies offer volume-based shipping discounts, which are accessible even for businesses with a lower shipping volume. It’s worth negotiating volume discounts by demonstrating loyalty to a single shipping carrier without compromising shipping solutions or extending delivery times.
How Much Should You Charge For Shipping?
You must prioritize numerous factors when making this crucial decision. But most importantly, you must aim to find the right balance between your rates and profitability without overburdening your customers.
The following strategies work for small businesses that ship from home:
Offer Free Shipping
Free or discounted shipping is among the most effective ways to expand your customer base, serving as an effective incentive for product purchases. However, implementation requires careful consideration.
You can make your approach financially viable by slightly increasing prices, providing discount codes, or setting a minimum order requirement. But before you offer free shipping, evaluate these practices to determine the most suitable approach based on your business needs.
A crucial part of your pricing decision entails balancing excessively low and high rates. Keeping your prices reasonable can avoid both customer loss and profit reduction.
A standard or fixed pricing structure for shipping is particularly effective when your products have consistent sizes and weights. For instance, if you sell candles with identical dimensions and weights, flat rates can simplify the estimation of customer expenses and enhance their overall experience.
Finally, you can determine your pricing based on the real-time shipping carrier rates from shipping services like UPS. This feature enables customers to choose their preferred shipping option and view live pricing for packages from your location to their address.
This strategy can cut your shipping costs, streamline your process and make it more transparent, especially if you sell oversized objects.
It’s Time to Create a Cost-Effective Shipping Strategy for Your Business
Understandably, product packaging and shipping may not be among the most glamorous aspects of your young business. Regardless, these activities are critical to your overall customer experience.
The above insights and tips can help you enhance your shipping strategy. However, your best way to maintain an efficient process is to work with a reliable shipping partner well conversant with the latest shipping industry trends, technologies, and opportunities.
Fortunately, you don’t need to continue searching, as you’re in the right hands. Sign up for free and with zero obligation to see how much you can save in shipping costs today.