Five Ways to Reduce Shipping Costs

Love it or hate it, free shipping is almost becoming mandatory for e-commerce sales right now. While sellers may grumble and complain about having to “eat the shipping costs”, free shipping or at least low-cost shipping is often a necessary evil if you want your item to sell.

Even if you refuse to play along with the “free” thing, buyers are paying attention to shipping fees and most often the sellers with the lowest shipping costs are clear winners. If you’ve been considering the idea of trying to offer free or reduced shipping rates, there are some ways you can do this and still make a decent profit.

1. Compare shipping carriers. You may have to do a little homework to figure out which carrier has the best pricing for the types of items you sell. Some sites, like eBay, have comparison tools that let you calculate USPS, FedEx, and UPS rates side-by-side. And remember – one size doesn’t fit all. While the USPS is still usually the best way to go when you have a lightweight item, costs could be considerably lower with one of the other carriers if you have a heavy item or need to ship an item quickly.

2. Check your service providers for discounted rates. Some services have partnered with companies like Endicia and offer integrations which not only save time but provide access to discounted postage rates. Take advantage of these special rates when available – you could end up saving a large percentage off of retail.

3. Ask the customer when they need it. Sometimes you can save money by asking the customer how soon they need or want the item. This is difficult on eBay and Amazon, but if you sell on your own website or on another marketplace, you actually have better options. Once you know when the customer needs it, compare rates across carriers. In some cases, choosing express shipping might actually cost you less. This is particularly true when you ship heavy items or need to use freight companies to ship items in bulk.

4. Order your shipping supplies from the Post Office. If you use USPS for most of your shipping and typically ship items by Priority mail, you can order boxes and padded envelopes from the USPS website and they will deliver your shipping supplies right to your doorstep, saving you both time and money.

5. Use a third-party carrier for your insurance. Since some shipping carriers now charge 80 cents or more for every $100 you spend, insurance costs can really add up. Instead of using carrier insurance, consider using a third-party insurance carrier, some of which can save you up to 90% in insurance costs. Some service providers also offer access to discounted insurance, so be sure to check your providers for this option too.

This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio and an active Facebook Group ThatKat.


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