As we approach the holiday season, we figured it would be a good time to share some of our shipping secrets. The tips we have in this article will help anyone save money shipping birthday presents or holiday gifts but are also applicable to other online stores like us that stock and ship inventory from our own facility.
Let's learn how to ship packages like a pro!
Very quickly, let's go over some shipping basics.
For packages traveling between cities in the continental US, you can expect a 2 day shipping time on average. If the package is only traveling a short distance, it could arrive in 1 day. For packages traveling a further distance, it could take 3-4 days to arrive. This is true for all of the carriers.
Make sure your packaging is adequate. This includes the box or padded envelope and any packing materials. The box or envelope should be larger than the contents! And, any free space inside the packaging should be filled with packing paper or another filler/protective lightweight material.
There is actually a very slim chance your package will be lost or damaged while shipping so don't be too worried about that but if you are shipping something with monetary or sentimental value, consider paying for insurance.
Size Matters When Shipping (And so does Weight!)
As a general rule of thumb, small and/or light packages will be cheapest to ship via USPS, AKA the Post Office.
Medium to large size packages with more weight will probably get a better rate shipping via UPS or FedEx.
To get you an idea, 10 pounds is getting too heavy for USPS to be the best rate and if the package is 10" x 10" x 10" or larger, consider UPS or FedEx as they may provide a better rate.
If your package is too large and/or too heavy, USPS, FedEx, and UPS will not be an option and you will need to look into using a freight carrier to transport that package/item.
Discounted Shipping Rates for packages under 1 Pound
If your total package weight (the weight of the box/padded envelope, packing material, and contents inside) is less than 1 pound, USPS's First Class Package shipping option will 100% be the cheapest way to send that package.
Total Shipping Distance Also Matters
The distance your package will travel will affect the cost of your shipping label. Obviously, the shorter the distance the less expensive the shipping label will be.
For example, we are located in Greater Cincinnati. A package we ship to California will cost about the same as shipping that package to Ontario Canada! Whenever you are shipping a package internationally you can expect a higher cost. Also know tariffs and other import fees may have to be paid by the sender or receiver in some circumstances when packages cross country borders.
Skip The Lines By Printing Your Shipping Label Online
You can print your shipping label on regular paper at your home or office and attach it to your package using tape. Just make sure you securely attach the label on all edges and do not cover any bar codes with tape! Now you can walk into FedEx, UPS or USPS and simply drop the package off on the counter. No more waiting in line!
How to Print a Shipping Label
FedEx, UPS or USPS all have a section of their website that allows you to enter your package details (size, weight, to, from, etc.), see the rates, and pay for and print the label.
Since we professionally ship packages and have accounts with USPS, UPS, and FedEx, we don't use 3rd party shipping services online but wanted to let you know that they are available. Some of these 3rd party websites have deals with USPS, UPS, and/or FedEx that can save you a little money on the cost of the shipping label.
How to get Free Shipping Supplies (And Cheap Options)
One of the best ways to get boxes and packaging material for 'free' is to simply keep the boxes and packaging material that is sent to you! Remember, boxes can always be broken down and reassembled to save space in the meantime.
USPS offers a decent amount of free shipping supplies including boxes and envelopes. The catch is you must use USPS as the postal service if using their free boxes!
Check out the rates for Regional Rate boxes from USPS. The boxes are free and the shipping rates for these boxes are super cheap!
Shipping Tips For Businesses
If you are a business wanting to reduce the cost and improve efficiency shipping, we have a couple of tips for you too.
The 1st is to create a Shopify store to tap into their shipping discounts.
Next is to reach out to FedEx to create an account with them since they do not integrate with Shopify.
Our 3rd and 4th tip for businesses is to check shipping rates at eBay and PayPal (ShipStation). These options are only applicable if you sold the item on eBay or collected payment using PayPal though.