If you are currently or looking to sell online, knowing how to ship affordably is important. When you are able to save money on shipping, you will be able to pass on the savings and bring more customers. Whether you are selling on popular e-commerce like eBay, Amazon, or have your own base of customers, knowing how to save money on shipping will leave you much more room for profit. In this post, we will give you top tips on how to save money on shipping so keep reading!
Shipping Basics To Know
Before we get started, there are shipping basics that you need to know to save money. When it comes to shipping, the package’s dimensions, weight, and destination will determine what your cheapest options will be. Based on these factors, look for different shipping options to get the best rates.
To avoid charges associated with incorrect package weight, make sure that you have a shipping scale. This costs $20 and will save you money in the long run. You should also have a measuring tape so your dimensions are also correct.
Additionally, all USPS packaging is free from your local USPS store. You can also have them shipped to your home from USPS.com. Check out our post here to see free resources for shipping that are available to you.
1. Use Pirate Ship for USPS packages
We have mentioned Pirate Ship many times on our blog. This is because they offer some of the best USPS rates out there. Pirate Ship has a negotiated commercial rate with USPS. That is why it is cheaper to buy postage through them than going to the USPS store. They are even cheaper than using USPS Click-N-Ship. If you need guidance on how to ship with Pirate Ship, read here.
With the exception of buying some postage through eBay for eBay sales, you will get the best rate for USPS buying through Pirate Ship.
2. Ship USPS First Class for Packages Weighing Below 1 Pound
If you are shipping anything below 1 pound, the best rate will be through USPS first class. You can still buy this rate through Pirate Ship. Remember to round up to the closest ounce. For example, if your package is 4.4 ounces, round up to 5 ounces. If it is 8.3 ounces, round up to 9 ounces, and so forth.
However, if your package is 15.1 or anything below 15.9, you can round up to 15.9 ounces to get the first-class rate. Otherwise, you will have to ship the package as Priority Mail.
3. Ship Regular Priority Mail
Depending on the package’s dimension and distance, if your package is between 1 and 3 pounds, consider regular priority mail. Priority mail can be some of the most cost-effective options. You do not have to use a Priority box for this, you can use your own packaging. If you have items with dimensions that will not fit in any Priority flat rate packaging, regular priority mail is your best option.
4. Take Advantage of Regional Rate Boxes
One shipping rate that is often overlooked is USPS’s Regional Rate boxes. If your package is less than 15 pounds and the delivery address is within zone A, Regional Box A can make sense. The weight limit for Regional B is up to 20 pounds. You can use this domestic zone calculator to determine what zone your destination will fall under.
For long distances, however, this shipping option does not make sense. You will want to instead use USPS Cubic Rate which we will go over below.
5. Take Advantage of USPS Flat Rate for Heavier Items
In certain cases, if a package weighs more than one pound, we will use a Priority Mail Flat rate padded envelope. Flat-rate envelopes are capped at $8.00 with Pirate Ship and $8.15 with USPS at the time of this writing. This tends to be a better deal for long-distance packages. Example cases may be shipping from one coast to another or to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. If your item is bulky or heavier, make sure to reinforce the side seams with tape. Doing this will help prevent the contents from bursting out during shipping and handling.
You can save even more if you are able to place the items in a Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope or Priority Mail Flat Rate Legal Envelope. To protect the contents, you can put them in a clear poly bag or regular poly bag first. As with the Priority flat rate padded envelopes, make sure you reinforce the seams with tape.
If your item is above 3 lbs or if the shipping destination is too far for Regional A or Regional B boxes, take advantage of all USPS Flat rate envelopes or boxes. You can ship up to 70 pounds on Priority Mail padded Flat rate envelopes, Small, Medium (both top loading and side loading), and Large boxes. This is one of our tips when it comes to shipping heavy items. Read here for more tips and tricks.
6. Use FedEx SmartPost and UPS SurePost for Large Items
If your package is more than 3 pounds but it will not fit into any USPS Priority flat rate envelopes or boxes, there are two other options. FedEx and UPS have a hybrid service with USPS called FedEx SmartPost and UPS SurePost.
FedEx SmartPost is a hybrid service between FedEx and USPS. The service starts with FedEx picking up the package and then handing it over to USPS for the final delivery. The one drawback to FedEx SmartPost is that they deliver the package to the closest USPS regional hub. That means it may take longer for the package to be delivered.
UPS SurePost is UPS’s version of SmartPost where UPS picks up the package and hands it over to USPS for the final delivery. However, UPS SurePost hands the package to the closest USPS office instead of a regional hub. Therefore, the package may arrive quicker.
This hybrid service offers a shipping option that is cheaper than using FedEx ground or UPS ground alone. That is because a residential surcharge is normally added to a regular ground delivery for driving the truck to the delivery address. By partnering with USPS and having them deliver the package in their daily route, this cost-saving is passed onto the customer.
The only drawback to FedEx SmartPost or UPS SurePost is that both services are restricted to the continental U.S. You cannot buy this postage type at USPS or Pirate Ship. This shipping option is only available to be purchased at FedEx for FedEx SmartPost and at UPS for UPS SurePost. Also, keep in mind that because the package is being handled by two different carriers, the package delivery speed will generally be slower.
7. Take Advantage of Pirate Ship’s Cubic Rate
One of the lesser-known tricks to shipping with USPS for cheap is using USPS Cubic rate. USPS Cubic rate uses the outer dimensions of your package and the distance that the package will be traveling, instead of the weight to determine the shipping price. This USPS cubic rate normally requires a business to ship more than 50,000 packages a year. However, you can purchase this rate from Pirate Ship or other shipping software like Shippo.
There are a few package requirements to be able to use Cubic rate though. First, the cubic foot in volume must be less than 0.5 cubic feet. Second, none of the dimensions must be over 18 inches. And lastly, the package can weigh only up to 20 pounds. To determine your exact cubic volume, you can use Pirate Ship’s cubic calculator here.
8. Use Box in a Bag to Get Better Cubic Rates
If you have Pirate Ship’s cubic calculator opened, you will see that there are two options: Box or Rigid Package and Envelope, Poly Bag or Box in a Bag. If you are able to fit your box in a polybag, you will actually qualify for a lower cubic tier. That will mean cheaper pricing. That is why we stock up on large poly bags because the cubic rate for a box in a bag only accounts for the length and width of the package. It excludes the height in its calculation.
9. File an Insurance Claim for Lost or Damaged Package
You may be surprised at how many people skip filing insurance claims for lost and damaged mail. USPS has built-in insurance coverage for Priority Mail, Priority Mail Cubic, Priority Mail Flat Rate, and Priority Mail Express. It means insurance automatically comes with your postage purchase. You are eligible for up to $100 of insurance from USPS for free whether you buy from Pirate Ship or at USPS.com.
If you need guidance on how to file a USPS insurance claim, read here. It is very easy to do and USPS has been very good about sending us insurance checks within a few weeks from filing.
The main takeaway here is to know all of your options from the available shipping services out there. You are not stuck to one carrier and one type of shipping. There are different ways to ship your package in order to save the most on shipping. The more you know what your options are, the better you can plan for all your shipping needs. When you save money on shipping, you can keep more of your hard-earned money in your pockets.