One of the biggest struggles a small business can have is shipping. In a day and age where more and more people are shopping online and avoiding the malls and shops, shipping is a necessary demon. There are so many questions when it comes to shipping: Which carrier’s the best? Which is the cheapest? What’s the best shipping method for my product? Unfortunately, there’s not a magic answer to these questions. It’s really a game of variables, from what you’re selling to how much the package weighs and where it’s going to. Picking the wrong carrier or method could result in your business throwing away good money. So how do you navigate through all the variables to find out which shipping carrier and method is best for your business?
To begin, let’s answer the first question, which carrier is the best/cheapest? Again, there’s no one right answer. For the sake of this article we’ve looked at the three biggest carriers: UPS, FedEx, and USPS. After spending some time researching online, it seems the USPS Priority Mail tends to be the cheapest option. They have several choices to choose from including flat rate boxes. Take a look at the chart below:
|Priority Mail (1,2, or 3 day delivery):|
|Large Flat Rate Boxes: 23-11/16″ x 11-3/4″ x 3″
12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″
|Medium Flat Rate Boxes: 13-5/8″ x 11-7/8″ x 3-3/8″
11″ x 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″
|Small Flat Rate Box: 8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8″||$5.80|
Flat rate boxes are great because you don’t have to deal with the weight issue. If your item fits into the small flat rate box, it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 pounds or 50 pounds, it’ll ship for $5.80. It will also get to your customer in 1-3 business days, which they’ll appreciate. Plus, you can order your boxes directly from the USPS site and have them delivered directly to your home, free of charge. They also offer tracking and free package pickup. In fact, ordering postage online and printing it out at home is actually cheaper than going to the post office, which means one less trip for you as well.
UPS and FedEx ground methods may be a bit cheaper than priority mail, but also take into account purchasing the box and driving to the FedEx and UPS store. In the end, it could end up being a bit cheaper going USPS route. For bigger packages though, UPS and FedEx tend to be better options. They also feature superior tracking and delivery guarantee.
It all comes down to what your shipping. If you’re shipping big picture frames, FedEx and UPS are probably better options that USPS. On the other hand if your shipping a small item like a necklace, USPS is probably the better option. When it comes right down to it, comparing each carrier’s rate is the best way to ensure that you are getting the best price for your product. Check out the calculators for each below:
To help you keep track of carrier costs, create a log. Take down the weight, the carrier, which shipping method you use, and the price it will cost to ship each item. Then you’ll have a great reference to look back on when you’re trying to figure out which carrier to use. You’ll also be able to factor the shipping costs into the price and inform the customer of the options they have.
Do you research to make sure you’re picking the best option for your business!
How do you ship your products?