E-commerce Shipping Solutions: 10 Ways to Ship More on a Budget


When you run an e-commerce website, you're always thinking about shipping.

The cost of shipping is one of the biggest expenses for small businesses and lowering that cost is at the forefront of every business owner's mind. Being able to ship your products on a budget is complicated, as the quality of service and the safety of what's being shipped is of the utmost importance.

Today, we're going to discuss 10 of the best e-commerce shipping solutions out there so that you can save your company money. We understand that you're on a budget, but every small business needs to cut costs where it makes sense, so they can put more resources into what matters most, creating and selling your products.

1. Free Over a Certain Amount

One tactic that many small businesses use is charging shipping up to a certain amount, say $50 or $100, then giving the customer free shipping if they go over. While it doesn't do much for your shipping cost, it lowers the effect that the shipping cost has on your business because the customer is forced to buy more products.

It's an especially useful method when used as or alongside a promotion. You can move a serious number of units when you promote free shipping.

2. Take It Slow

If you're not shipping for free, you can entice the customer with cheaper shipping. You can get cheaper shipping from your supplier by choosing a slower shipping method. Customers these days are spoiled by companies like Amazon, which has free next day shipping for their "Prime" members. 

The difference between your small business and Amazon is that they have billions of dollars at their disposal. Next day shipping is something that your customers will just have to pay for, but 5-7 day shipping is affordable for everyone involved.

3. Factor Everything In Before Charging Customers

A lot of bigger businesses tend to guarantee certain shipping rates for their customers before they actually purchase the products. To save money, you should always wait until all of the products are factored in, then let them know how much shipping is as they're checking out.

If you're just starting out, it's going to take you a while to get a good sense of how much each individual product generally costs to ship. Eventually, when you have a reliable system in place, you'll be able to make shipping rate guarantees for your customers.

4. Shopping Around

The likelihood that you end up using a few different carriers is high. Different companies excel at different things, so you might have one company dealing with international shipping, while another handles domestic. You might even have a separate company that handles domestic express shipping.

Shop around and figure out what each carrier brings to the table for you, but expect to have accounts with several of them.

5. Use Shipper Supplied Packaging

Most carriers will supply their packaging to you for free, which will actually save you a lot of money on actual packaging materials. Using your own packaging makes you susceptible to extra charges if your packaging exceeds a given company's size regulations.

If you do use your own packaging, the best thing to do is get it all from the same fulfillment company. For instance, some packaging companies double as a box supplier and a fulfillment company. These companies can deliver you regular shipments of the boxes and envelopes that you need to send your orders.

6. Go Regional

Utilizing regional couriers can help you get local packages out in a timely manner. The bigger companies treat every package the same, regardless of how far it has to go, so you're better off using someone local to get local packages out.

In many cases, these shippers are actually cheaper, so you'll be saving money on top of that.

7. Pre-Paid Shipping

FedEx and UPS both offer pre-paid shipping, which can save you up to 20%. All this means is that instead of registering each shipment as you go, you pay for shipping labels ahead of time and fix them to your packages (with the address, of course).

This system really works when you have a lot of shipments that are roughly the same weight, which makes it easy to determine the shipping costs in advance.

8. Third-Party Insurance

All of the big-name shipping companies offer insurance for their packages, which can cost in the neighborhood of $0.80 per $100. Third-party insurance companies like UPIC and Parcel Insurance Plan can nearly halve this rate, which will quickly add up if you're putting insurance on every item or you're shipping expensive items regularly.

9. Only Box When Necessary

When shipping, companies often get in the habit of putting everything in the same style of box, in order to streamline the order fulfillment process. As much time as this might save, it's better to ship products in packages that make sense for the size of the item.

For instance, if you're shipping a few books or a Blueray player, you'll have to put it in an appropriately sized box with proper packaging materials. If you're shipping a candle, you wouldn't use the same box, as it's only going to increase the shipping costs.

Most companies factor dimensions into the cost of e-commerce shipping solutions, so don't voluntarily make it more expensive.

10. Consolidate Shipments When Possible

If you are shipping multiple items to the same customer, figure out how to consolidate the items into one package. It doesn't make financial sense to send multiple shipments to one person if you don't have to. When you factor in dimensions and weight, it is always better to consolidate. This is especially true with the rising costs of materials, vehicles, and fuel.

Never Stop Searching for E-Commerce Shipping Solutions

E-commerce shipping solutions come to those who put the work into finding them. You don't have to accept your shipping costs as final, use these tips to lower them gradually until you're happy with the amount that you're paying.

Did you enjoy this post on e-commerce shipping solutions on a frugal budget? Come back and visit us again for more on business, advertising, and finance. Visit the Retail and Digital Marketing section of the Bootstrap Business Blog for more advice and insights on ecommerce and dropshipping.

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