How to Save on Shipping Costs

How to Save on Shipping Costs

Whether you've made a sale or you're sending a package to a loved one, you don't want to pay a ton to ship your item! Fortunately, there are lots of little tricks and tips you can use to reduce shipping costs and probably save you time, too. Research your carrier options to find the best deal and learn how to package your item so you're not paying more than you need to.

Method 1 of 3:
Efficient Packaging

1
Use packaging provided by your carrier so you're not charged extra fees. Some carriers charge "dimensional fees" if you use your own boxes and they're bigger than their shipping regulations allow. To avoid the hassle of checking box sizes, just use the packages that they provide for shipping if you plan on shipping flat rate. Most carriers offer free packaging in their stores or they'll let you order them online. [1] X Research source While the dimensional fee might be small, especially if you're only shipping a few items, the cost can really add up if you're shipping for your business.
2
Reuse packaging material so you don't have to buy new shipping supplies. If you're like most people, you probably get boxes frequently when you order things online. Instead of tossing or recycling them, set them aside so you have boxes ready for for shipping at a moment's notice! [2] X Research source If you're shipping for a business, use shipping materials that match your company's style and values. An eco-friendly bookstore might use shredded newspapers or catalogs to use as filler, for instance.
3
Ship items in the smallest possible box or a padded envelope to save money. Boxes take up a lot of space so they cost more to ship than envelopes. If your item fits, wrap it in bubble wrap and put it into a padded shipping envelope. You might be surprised at how sturdy these envelopes are and how much you can fit in them. If you want to use boxes, choose one that's lightweight and small enough just to hold your item. [3] X Research source For example, instead of shipping a book in a large box that's stuffed with filler, wrap the book and pop it into a padded envelope or a box that's just a little larger than the wrapped book.
4
Use lightweight filler if you choose to ship by weight instead of by flat rate dimensions. You might be tempted to pack lots of filler around your item to protect it, but be smart about your filler material. If you pack your items in several protective boxes or surround it with heavy, shredded paper, you'll add weight to your package, which costs you money! For lightweight filler, use: [4] X Research source Air bubbles if you have lots of space in the package Styrofoam peanuts Newspaper Plastic bags
5
Skip customized packaging and choose plain boxes or envelopes. If you're shipping for a business, you don't have to put customized stickers or stamps on the outside of the packaging. It's completely fine to ship to your customers with plain packaging. [5] X Research source Still want to include a personalized business logo? Stick a business card or a simple thank you note inside the package.
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Method 2 of 3:
Inexpensive Carriers

1
Include regional carriers when you look into your carrier options. Research the big carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx, but don't forget carriers that operate in your area if you're shipping something within your region. They may offer more competitive rates, although you might not be able to ship your item out of their regional area. [6] X Research source For example, OnTrac operates in the West while Spee-Dee Delivery Service covers the Midwest.
2
Negotiate deals with carriers if you ship a lot of things. Ask carriers if they offer discounts for shipping based on volume. They'll probably refer you to their website or give you a guide with their shipping tiers that shows how many packages you have to ship to get a certain discount. Usually, the more you ship, the better the deal. [7] X Research source Don't forget to compare these discounts, too! If you're leaning towards using a certain carrier, but their discount isn't as great as another carrier, ask them if they can match the better deal.
3
Set up a business account if you ship a lot of items with a certain carrier. While it can save to shop around, you might score some great discounts if you set up a business account with a carrier, especially if you receive a lot of shipments through them too. When you set up a business account, find out what other benefits the carrier offers. [8] X Research source For example, some carriers let you track shipments, create your own barcode shipping labels, or request pickups.
4
Watch for hidden fees that can add to your shipping cost. Take some time to read through your carrier's fine print and shipping policies so you're not surprised by hidden fees. You might find that a carrier charges for weekend delivery or for services like delivery signatures, for instance. [9] X Research source This is especially important to check if you're shipping internationally, since some carriers may charge steep fees for duty-related charges.
5
Buy insurance from a third-party company instead of your carrier to save money. Sure, it can be convenient to ask your carrier to tack insurance onto your shipping order, but it might not be the best option. Shop third-party insurance companies who specialize in shipping insurance, since they'll probably have more competitive rates. [10] X Research source Keep in mind that some carriers automatically insure packages that are under a certain monetary amount, so you might not need to buy separate insurance.
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Method 3 of 3:
Cost Calculation

1
Check an online shipping calculator to estimate costs by weight. If you're sending something that isn't very heavy, shipping by weight might be the cheapest way to go. Weigh your package and enter its dimensions into a carrier's online shipping calculator to see how much they'd charge. Compare each carrier to find the best rate. [11] X Research source Every carrier has a handy calculator on their website which lets you enter the specific info for your package. You can also use the calculator to check rates for international shipping.
2
Find flat rate prices and compare them to the weighted costs. A flat rate means that the carrier charges a set price to ship something in a certain size, regardless of how much it weighs. This is a great option if you're sending something heavy, but compare the flat rate with the weighted shipping calculator just to be sure. [12] X Research source You usually have to use packaging provided by the carrier if you want to ship flat rate.
3
Get discounts by paying for shipping online and printing off your own labels. Most carriers have websites that are really user friendly and you can create your own shipping account. Enter your packaging information and pay online to get a discount that's not available in the carrier's store. Then, print off the label and you're ready to go! [13] X Research source Remember to check with your carrier for specific discounts. If you find that your favorite carrier doesn't offer any, don't forget that you can negotiate with them.
4
Market your products with the shipping cost figured into it. It feels good to make a sale, but it's not great if you spend most of your profit shipping the item. Look through your inventory and raise the price of your most popular items so it covers the shipping cost. You can do this for all of your products or offer free shipping for select items. [14] X Research source Play around with offers that include free shipping. You might offer free shipping if the customer spends a certain amount, for instance.
5
Ship within your own country to avoid steep international shipping costs. Unfortunately, when you ship internationally, you'll have to pay extra taxes and duties. You'll also have to fill out more paperwork. All of this makes international shipping a lot more expensive than domestic shipping, so you might want to limit your sales domestically. [15] X Research source Just shipping an item to a friend in another country? It's really important to research every carrier's international prices so you can get the best deal.
Advertisement

Method 1 of 3:
Efficient Packaging

1
Use packaging provided by your carrier so you're not charged extra fees. Some carriers charge "dimensional fees" if you use your own boxes and they're bigger than their shipping regulations allow. To avoid the hassle of checking box sizes, just use the packages that they provide for shipping if you plan on shipping flat rate. Most carriers offer free packaging in their stores or they'll let you order them online. [1] X Research source While the dimensional fee might be small, especially if you're only shipping a few items, the cost can really add up if you're shipping for your business.
2
Reuse packaging material so you don't have to buy new shipping supplies. If you're like most people, you probably get boxes frequently when you order things online. Instead of tossing or recycling them, set them aside so you have boxes ready for for shipping at a moment's notice! [2] X Research source If you're shipping for a business, use shipping materials that match your company's style and values. An eco-friendly bookstore might use shredded newspapers or catalogs to use as filler, for instance.
3
Ship items in the smallest possible box or a padded envelope to save money. Boxes take up a lot of space so they cost more to ship than envelopes. If your item fits, wrap it in bubble wrap and put it into a padded shipping envelope. You might be surprised at how sturdy these envelopes are and how much you can fit in them. If you want to use boxes, choose one that's lightweight and small enough just to hold your item. [3] X Research source For example, instead of shipping a book in a large box that's stuffed with filler, wrap the book and pop it into a padded envelope or a box that's just a little larger than the wrapped book.
4
Use lightweight filler if you choose to ship by weight instead of by flat rate dimensions. You might be tempted to pack lots of filler around your item to protect it, but be smart about your filler material. If you pack your items in several protective boxes or surround it with heavy, shredded paper, you'll add weight to your package, which costs you money! For lightweight filler, use: [4] X Research source Air bubbles if you have lots of space in the package Styrofoam peanuts Newspaper Plastic bags
5
Skip customized packaging and choose plain boxes or envelopes. If you're shipping for a business, you don't have to put customized stickers or stamps on the outside of the packaging. It's completely fine to ship to your customers with plain packaging. [5] X Research source Still want to include a personalized business logo? Stick a business card or a simple thank you note inside the package.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Inexpensive Carriers

1
Include regional carriers when you look into your carrier options. Research the big carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx, but don't forget carriers that operate in your area if you're shipping something within your region. They may offer more competitive rates, although you might not be able to ship your item out of their regional area. [6] X Research source For example, OnTrac operates in the West while Spee-Dee Delivery Service covers the Midwest.
2
Negotiate deals with carriers if you ship a lot of things. Ask carriers if they offer discounts for shipping based on volume. They'll probably refer you to their website or give you a guide with their shipping tiers that shows how many packages you have to ship to get a certain discount. Usually, the more you ship, the better the deal. [7] X Research source Don't forget to compare these discounts, too! If you're leaning towards using a certain carrier, but their discount isn't as great as another carrier, ask them if they can match the better deal.
3
Set up a business account if you ship a lot of items with a certain carrier. While it can save to shop around, you might score some great discounts if you set up a business account with a carrier, especially if you receive a lot of shipments through them too. When you set up a business account, find out what other benefits the carrier offers. [8] X Research source For example, some carriers let you track shipments, create your own barcode shipping labels, or request pickups.
4
Watch for hidden fees that can add to your shipping cost. Take some time to read through your carrier's fine print and shipping policies so you're not surprised by hidden fees. You might find that a carrier charges for weekend delivery or for services like delivery signatures, for instance. [9] X Research source This is especially important to check if you're shipping internationally, since some carriers may charge steep fees for duty-related charges.
5
Buy insurance from a third-party company instead of your carrier to save money. Sure, it can be convenient to ask your carrier to tack insurance onto your shipping order, but it might not be the best option. Shop third-party insurance companies who specialize in shipping insurance, since they'll probably have more competitive rates. [10] X Research source Keep in mind that some carriers automatically insure packages that are under a certain monetary amount, so you might not need to buy separate insurance.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Cost Calculation

1
Check an online shipping calculator to estimate costs by weight. If you're sending something that isn't very heavy, shipping by weight might be the cheapest way to go. Weigh your package and enter its dimensions into a carrier's online shipping calculator to see how much they'd charge. Compare each carrier to find the best rate. [11] X Research source Every carrier has a handy calculator on their website which lets you enter the specific info for your package. You can also use the calculator to check rates for international shipping.
2
Find flat rate prices and compare them to the weighted costs. A flat rate means that the carrier charges a set price to ship something in a certain size, regardless of how much it weighs. This is a great option if you're sending something heavy, but compare the flat rate with the weighted shipping calculator just to be sure. [12] X Research source You usually have to use packaging provided by the carrier if you want to ship flat rate.
3
Get discounts by paying for shipping online and printing off your own labels. Most carriers have websites that are really user friendly and you can create your own shipping account. Enter your packaging information and pay online to get a discount that's not available in the carrier's store. Then, print off the label and you're ready to go! [13] X Research source Remember to check with your carrier for specific discounts. If you find that your favorite carrier doesn't offer any, don't forget that you can negotiate with them.
4
Market your products with the shipping cost figured into it. It feels good to make a sale, but it's not great if you spend most of your profit shipping the item. Look through your inventory and raise the price of your most popular items so it covers the shipping cost. You can do this for all of your products or offer free shipping for select items. [14] X Research source Play around with offers that include free shipping. You might offer free shipping if the customer spends a certain amount, for instance.
5
Ship within your own country to avoid steep international shipping costs. Unfortunately, when you ship internationally, you'll have to pay extra taxes and duties. You'll also have to fill out more paperwork. All of this makes international shipping a lot more expensive than domestic shipping, so you might want to limit your sales domestically. [15] X Research source Just shipping an item to a friend in another country? It's really important to research every carrier's international prices so you can get the best deal.
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