The one thing that every ecommerce business has in common — regardless of size, niche and experience — is shipping. Whether you sell food, fashion accessories or tech gadgets, you’re always going to have to ship something to your customers.
But shipping isn’t cheap and at times it isn’t even fast. At least not for small businesses. Large brands like Walmart can offer free shipping and programs like Amazon Prime have made one-day shipping a reality.
As a small ecommerce business, you probably ask yourself “How can I reduce my shipping cost?”
The good news is there are strategies small businesses can use to reduce shipping costs.
Here are five strategies that will help you create a shipping plan that works for your business.
1. Use a shipping platform to access business discounts.
Some millennials might remember a time when waiting in line at the post office to mail something was a thing. This didn’t just require a lot of time; it was also very expensive. Depending on what you had to ship and where it was headed, shipping costs varied, which made it hard to plan and budget effectively.
Fortunately those days are behind us — for the most part — and the advent of shipping platforms, like ShipStation, have made it easier to ship products and save money while doing it. After all, as an ecommerce company, it makes sense to manage as much of your business online as possible to save yourself time.
What’s great about ShipStation is that it integrates with most ecommerce platforms. So whether you use WooCommerce, Shopify, Amazon or something else, when customers add products to their cart and check out, those orders automatically upload to ShipStation.
For one-off custom orders, you can manually create an order and add it to a batch of orders.
Once you’re ready to ship orders, all you have to do is enter package details like the weight and size and then print your labels.
Plus, if you register for a business account with USPS, you can integrate your account with ShipStation to automatically calculate your shipping discount. No more waiting in line and paying full price for your shipments.
2. Check USPS rates for options to reduce shipping costs.
Depending on what you sell, your products likely come in different shapes and sizes. You might be able to use one size box, but chances are that the packaging changes depending on how much — or how little — customers buy. This alone can make shipping a challenge because there’s no easy way to plan for it and budget.
One option available to you is to check if you qualify for flat rate shipping. The way flat rate shipping works is as long as your package is less than 70 lbs, you pay one rate and can ship to any state. For one low price you can ship packages anywhere in the country regardless of their weight or size.
[Source] As long as your orders fit into one of these flat rate boxes, you qualify for the shipping discount
What’s also great about this option is that the packages ship within 1-3 business days. Not only can you pass on the low shipping costs to customers, you can also get orders to customers quickly. This shipping timeline is the same as what larger brands offer their customers. Customers expect quick delivery, and flat rate shipping caters to that expectation.
If you qualify for flat rate shipping, promote your low shipping costs to customers. For example, use copy like “Low domestic shipping” or “Save on shipping” on the product pages of your website. Repeat the promise of low-cost shipping on the cart page so that customers know what to expect.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to ship products in boxes all the time. If you sell light products that won’t break while in transit — like T-shirts — consider using a poly mailer instead. They’re lighter than boxes and will help you save. You can even get them for free. Check to see if USPS or your shipping company offers these for free.
3. Print your own shipping labels.
When you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to want to buy every new gadget there is. This might include a specialized printer to print custom inserts to go along with customer orders, or you might want to buy a shipping label printer to print labels that stick to packages.
While these products might save you money in the long run, you don’t need them.
For example, while a shipping label printer is convenient, you can print the same label on your printer. When you’re ready, you can print USPS shipping labels directly from your Sellbrite account. Simply add funds to your postage wallet, create the labels you need, and enjoy low shipping rates — regardless of package size and weight.
What’s great about printing with Sellbrite is how simple it is to use. All you have to do is select the type of package you’re shipping — choose from a list of options or enter your own custom package dimensions — enter shipping details, and select the label format for your package. Lastly, choose how to ship your package — Priority Mail, Parcel Select, or Priority Mail Express — and then print the label. An added bonus is your settings are saved, so the next time you have to print labels, you save time and money.
4. Reuse packaging from orders you receive.
If you sell fragile products or anything that needs to be handled with care, chances are you spend a lot on packaging to protect customer orders. Whether it’s bubble wrap, peanuts, paper, tissue or crinkle paper, the costs add up over time.
Luckily, as a business, you constantly receive new packages of your own. For example, you order inventory and other supplies for your business regularly. Why not use some of this packaging in orders you ship instead of throwing it away? You can even reuse the boxes your inventory arrives in if they’re in good condition.
Remember that reducing shipping costs isn’t just about postal rates, it’s also about the supplies you need to mail your orders. Some things have to be new — like packing tape — but if you’re just starting out, it’s OK to reuse packaging as needed.
5. Build shipping into the price of your product.
Shipping is never truly free; someone has to pay for it. It can be the company that’s shipping orders or the customer. What’s interesting to note is that 88% of shoppers prefer to shop on sites where free shipping is available.
If you’re not in a position to offer free shipping, another option is to work the cost into the price of your product.
Be careful with this option because you don’t want to drive up the cost of your products just to accommodate shipping. If pricing is a lot higher than comparable products on the market, guess where your customers are going to go? To the brand that offers something similar but for a lower price.
To figure out if this option works for you:
- keep your margins in mind
- research the competition to see how they handle shipping
- figure out what customers expect to pay and the maximum they’re willing to pay
Also, if you qualify for flat rate shipping, pass the savings on to customers. You can advertise this as “Take advantage of our low shipping rates” or “We’ll ship to you for less than the competition.” This way, even if you can’t offer free shipping or work shipping into your price, you show customers that they’re still able to save when they buy products from you.
6. Outsource your top sellers to a fulfillment partner.
Managing fulfillment in-house can get complicated and may be difficult to scale up and down based on demand. If you have top-selling items, outsourcing to the right fulfillment partner can help you sustainably provide a great customer experience (fast, reliable delivery), no matter how much you sell.
Partnering with Deliverr means you get access to fast shipping tags for your listings, which will help boost your sales even further. Unlike other outsourced solutions, they only have two main fees: Fulfillment and Storage, so you don’t have to worry about compounding little fees for every move like pick, pack, label, etc. Their rates are all-inclusive and competitive with Amazon’s multi-channel FBA, which will help you keep your entire fulfillment process costs down.
Sellbrite integrates directly with Deliverr. To get started, sellers just need to sign up, connect their Sellbrite account, and send Deliverr their inventory.
Create a plan that works for you
Shipping rates are increasing for all ecommerce businesses. What separates you from the larger competition is the fact that they qualify for deeper shipping discounts than you do.
The good news is that you can be creative when it comes to shipping your product. Pick one of the tips from the list and implement it for a month. Take note of the change in shipping costs. A reduction means that you’ve chosen the right option for your company.
Test them all until you find a strategy that works for you and starts to save you money immediately.