Shipping costs can be a costly affair for small businesses and self-employed individuals. Some of the challenges include the custom laws associated with international shipping and keeping costs down without shipping eBay-volume levels.
The way the business industry has shaped in 2013, shipping costs will keep changing frequently for years to come, but if you have a certain degree of knowledge, you can optimize shipping operations even on a shoestring budget.
Some cost effective ways to streamline the costs and save time on shipping include:
1. Recycle packing wherever possible
You can try to incorporate the materials already in stock in packaging instead of opting for new bubble wrap and other packaging for each new item. For example, when shipping as a jeans retailer, try to use shredded magazines and brand catalogs instead of spending money on new materials.
Thrift shops and flea stores have a lot of magazines, newspapers and catalog that are available at a fraction of the cost of materials like bubble wrap, and they can be shredded to create a unique and recyclable packaging style. According to the recent consumer packaging trends impacting the industry, consumers prefer brands incorporating sustainability in their packaging, so this can be a starting point.
2. Order the required quantity
Most box manufacturers will give you a quote with a minimum order size because they want to offset fixed expenses and costs related to machine setup and printing. But custom corrugated shipping boxes waive the minimum quantity limit, which is great if you only need a few specialty boxes for a specific season or holiday. However, increased quantity still dramatically brings down the cost per box.
Other benefits of choosing custom boxes over regular ones include fast delivery times, variety of box styles and custom brand graphics on the box exteriors. Modern offerings also come in eco-friendly material, so you can also reduce your carbon footprint during the process.
3. Be vary of hidden fees
When shipping out of country, some of the factors that can increase the total shipping cost include export compliance, custom duties and local taxes. It is therefore important to understand all hidden costs before you begin the shipping process. And the best way to find out international costs involves talking directly to your service carrier.
For example, you can ask whether the supplier will charge for custom duties or if the cost be included in the overall delivery price. Such important questions will have an effect on the total shipping cost. Also, when there are several employees overseeing the shipping department, be sure to communicate the required cost so that everyone knows which method to abide by.
4. Aim for time policies and accuracy
There are some occasions when customers have to pay for shipping instead of the company, but they may refuse to do so if policies are not in place. For example, you can set a standard delivery time of 3-7 business days for free shipping, and clearly mention that early delivery requires shipping costs to be paid by the customer.
Setting up the guidelines will ensure that there are no losses for either party. Moreover, you can check existing customer lists and remove any outdated and wrong addresses to keep shipping costs at bay.
How do you manage shipping costs? Feel free to leave comments.