If you have a product-based small business, understanding shipping is important. While focusing on selling your products is critical to your business, delivering the product to your customer in the most cost-effective manner can significantly help your bottom line. So we will go over 8 common shipping mistakes that are costing you money and how to prevent them in the future so that you will be able to keep more of what you earned.
- Not buying postage online
- Not using a shipping software
- Guessing package information
- Not knowing which shipping service to use
- Not filing insurance claim
- Not investing in proper shipping supplies
- Paying too much for shipping material
- Failing to double check
1. Not Buying Postage Online
We drop off our packages at our local post office almost daily and are always amazed by the long lines. Many people waste a lot of time waiting to pay at the counter. Paying at the post office will always cost more than paying online. Buying postage online also saves a precious commodity, your time, not to mention the frustration of waiting.
At the very minimum, get a USPS Click-N-Ship discount by buying your postage at usps.com. We go over how to use USPS Click-N-Ship here. USPS makes it easy to print your shipping labels from home. You can even arrange for a pickup so you do not have to leave the house or workplace.
If you want to drop off the package yourself, you can drop it off at drop boxes usually next to the self-service kiosks. If the dropbox is full, most post offices will have a counter where you can skip the lines to drop your package off.
2. Not Using A Shipping Software
One of the biggest common shipping mistakes is not knowing commercial pricing is accessible to you. While it is cheaper to buy your postage online than at the retail counter, you can find even better pricing for your postal needs. How? You can often get the best shipping rates by using shipping software such as Pirateship or Shippo. They are free to use and you will be able to get commercial rates through them.
Commercial rates are cheaper than USPS Click-N-Ship prices. Why would you want to use shipping software at all? Shipping software already has negotiations in place with shipping carriers. So if you are shipping less than 50,000 packages a year, it is a lot less hassle for you to use them. This way, you can focus on what you do best: bringing in more revenue.
Both Pirate ship and Shippo have USPS cubic rate, which is hard to beat for most domestic packages. We go over how to set up shipping with Pirate Ship here. While Pirate ship only has USPS as a carrier, Shippo has over 55+ carriers that they work with. Shippo’s default carriers are USPS, UPS, and DHL Express, which are all free to use while still getting a commercial rate.
If you would like to integrate with FedEx and other international and regional carriers, they have monthly plans with different volumes suited for your business needs. Check this blog out for more information. You can test them for free. Start Shippo 30-Day Free Trial at GoShippo.com.
3. Guessing Package Information
One of the most easily avoidable common shipping mistakes is not being sure of the package’s dimensions and weight. Buying postage online can save you a lot of money but make sure that you enter your package information correctly. The package’s dimensions must be correct and round up the weight to the next ounce just to be safe. You do not want to guess and underpay for your packages.
A shipping scale and measure tape are cheap and will save you money and headaches in the long run. If you are guessing the package information and the post office catches it, the package will come back to you. Even worse, the post office can attempt to charge your customer for insufficient postage. You will want to avoid that at all costs.
4. Not Knowing Which Shipping Service To Use
When it comes to saving money on shipping, this is the most essential part. Depending on your package type, dimensions, contents, and weight, you need to know all your packaging options. If you are shipping with USPS, you need to know what services to use.
This means what type of packages should be shipped First Class and what to ship with Priority Mail. We go over tips on how to save money on shipping with USPS here. Depending on the value of what you are shipping, make sure to add insurance accordingly.
There are also many other shipping carriers besides USPS, UPS, and FedEx, including regional carriers that you may not be considering. That is why joining a multi-carrier shipping software like GoShippo.com is invaluable. You can access negotiated rates with over 55+ carriers for your international and national shipping needs.
5. Not Filing Insurance Claim
Another one of the biggest common shipping mistakes we have made selling online for the past ten years is not filing insurance claims. We thought that since we did not buy insurance, we could not make a claim. However, if you are buying postage with major carriers like USPS, UPS, or FedEx, they come with up to $100 of built-in insurance in case of loss or damage for certain services.
There is built-in insurance with USPS Priority mail for up to $50 and up to $100 for Priority mail express. You do not have to pay extra unless you want to insure for a higher value. We go over how to file a USPS claim here. Both UPS and FedEx also have package protection of up to $100 for each domestic package at no extra cost.
If a package arrives at your customer damaged or it never made it during the route, the first instinct may be to send a replacement. However, you do not have to take a hit on your margins like we did in the past.
Make sure you are filing a claim, it does not take a lot of time. Go through your sent package history and make sure all packages were delivered. If not, you can create an insurance claim for your priority mail packages, UPS, and FedEx packages. You can even do it in batches if necessary and recoup some or all of the cost of your goods.
6. Not Investing In Proper Shipping Supplies
If you are shipping packages daily, you want to make the most of your time in the important things. Cutting, folding or taping paper to packages should not be one of them. To streamline your shipping process, a thermal printer should be a part of your business. They print shipping labels quickly with the 4” by 6” postage dimensions and adhesive labels so you only have to peel the label off and stick onto your package.
There are plenty of options out on the market, even if you do not want to allocate a big budget for it. We have used this thermal printer every day since we bought one. If that is out of your budget, you can check this thermal printer out. There are plenty of other thermal printers here, here, and here. If you want to be able to use your printer for other home uses such as scanning and faxing, you can print your labels on sticky sheets with a laser printer.
When it comes to shipping expensive electronics or breakable items, making sure that you have the proper type of padding and method appropriate for what you are shipping is important. It is especially crucial for higher-valued items.
Even if you purchase extra insurance, which you should be for expensive items, if something breaks and you are trying to make an insurance claim, carriers have their own guidelines for how the package should be packed. They can and will deny the claim if you skimp out on the packaging.
7. Paying Too Much for Shipping Material
If your business does not revolve around branding and presentation, you can and should use recycled packaging for certain items. These include non-breakable items like books, clothing, shoes and textiles. If you sell on e-commerce platforms like ebay, amazon, and a list of various online stores, you do not have to buy new poly mailers, envelopes or boxes every time.
More and more people are becoming conscious of how much material goes into shipping materials so if you are able to recycle your amazon bags, boxes or other packages, you will not only save money, you will also be more eco-friendly. We created free recycling stickers that you can print with your thermal printer here.
As with many things, there are exceptions when it comes to fragile or breakable items or expensive electronics. You will want to skip reusing boxes that have lost its structural integrity due to water damage, tears or dents.
8. Failing to Double Check
We are all humans here so mistakes can and will happen. Whether that mistake is through typing a customer’s address wrong, entering incorrect dimensions, or swapping labels, it is important to have quality checks for your outgoing mail. Instead of copying addresses by typing, use copy and paste instead and then use google address validation.
Make sure the correct order is going to the right person with a second check. It may seem like a hassle but it is a lot less of a hassle than having to pay for and deal with retrieving a package sent or worse, unhappy customers.
There are definitely outside factors beyond your control when it comes to shipping, such as delays by your postal carrier or stolen packages. However, there are certain actions you can take to save on your cost of shipping. It is important to know these common mistakes that small businesses tend to make to ensure that you are not spending a fortune on shipping and investing in the right services.