For small business owners, saving money is often the number one goal for the company. Budgets are small, so spending unnecessarily can jeopardize what the company spends elsewhere, like marketing or human resources.

If you regularly ship products as part of your business, this is, to a degree, a fixed cost. However, there are strategies you can use to save money on shipping. Then you can put that money back into your business to help it grow!

1. Ship it Slower

Not everything needs to arrive within 24 hours. Consider the speed that you need an item delivered, as well as the cost. If you’re shipping time-sensitive documents, certainly, they probably need to arrive tomorrow and need to use express courier. But if it’s a product — one that’s not perishable — your recipient will probably be fine receiving it in a few days so you can ship using ground service.

If you sell products on your website, make sure your shipping page accurately reflects the amount of time it will take to get to your customer, including processing time, and accounting for the weekends. If you set up expectations appropriately, you’ll get the products out and delivered in a timeframe that suits your customer. Also make sure to include increased rates for international or expedited shipping to customers so that you don’t have to eat those costs yourself.

2. Pay Attention to Holidays

Starting in November, packages will be flying all across the country. With several non-delivery days during the holiday season, as well as simply the flood of mail traffic, it’s important to have a strategy for mailing out your packages so that they arrive before the holidays. The later you wait, the more you’ll pay to get your items delivered on time. If you’re shipping to customers, you can, of course, pass the increased expense along to them. But if you’re mailing gifts to clients and contacts, you’ll want to plan ahead to ensure that not only your gifts arrive and you don’t overpay to expedite them, but that they will arrive before your contacts leave the office for vacation.

3. Sign Up for Business Rewards

Because small businesses ship items so regularly, take advantage of business rewards programs. The more you spend on shipping each month, the more you save. There’s no reason you should pay retail prices when you ship at a high volume.

4. Choose the Right Sized Box

You’ll be charged more the larger your box is, so make sure you have a box that is as close to the size of what you’re shipping as possible. While sometimes it’s more convenient to use the giant box in storage to mail something, you’ll end up paying more than necessary for this convenience. Use approved packaging so you know what to estimate for your shipping expense, or visit a mail supply store and find an appropriate-sized box.

5. Save Your Packing Materials

Buying boxes and packaging can add up if you ship regularly. And yet, you have numerous boxes with bubble wrap from items you’ve ordered hiding in the supply room. Why not set some aside so that you have free packing materials the next time you ship?

It’s not necessary to save every box you get, but aim to set aside one of each size range, as well as the packing material inside the box. Not only will it save you money, but it will save you time the next time you need to mail something quickly.

More Tips for Shipping Smartly

If you have a strategy for shipping items, you won’t feel so frenzied when you start boxing up items and preparing them to be mailed. Keep all your mailing supplies together, including boxes and packing material, labels, and shipping tape.

If you mail regularly (even if it’s just once a year at Christmas), keep a spreadsheet on your computer of the addresses you need to ship to. You can easily input them online to create mailing labels or print self-adhesive stickers for each box.

Put the dates on your calendar when you need to ship, otherwise you risk having to pay more to get your packages there on time.

Assign one person in your office to oversee shipping. He/she will be responsible for:
• Appropriately packing items tightly so they don’t break during transit
• Printing shipping labels
• Buying boxes and supplies
• Coordinating delivery and pickup

If you’re shipping internationally, check the rates, as they can be much higher than shipping within Canada. You’ll need to factor this into your budget. If you’re sending gifts, you might opt for a digital gift certificate for contacts who live halfway around the world, rather than paying twice what the item you’re sending is worth. Finally, it’s always wise to take advantage of savings programs and introductory offers available, which offer great discounts such as 40% off shipping costs for twelve months.

With a little planning and creativity, you can save money on your small business shipping. The key is having a plan, being organized, and scheduling when you will ship packages ahead of time to maximize your budget and arrival time.

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