9 Small Business Shipping Tips You Need to Know

When you’re running a small business, shipping can be quite daunting as you want to maximize customer satisfaction, but without breaking the bank in the process. 

That’s why we’re here to help! We’ve outlined our top nine small business shipping tips so you can get to grips with the process, and learn how to make it a whole lot easier!

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know. 

1. Negotiate With Shipping Carriers

One of the most important things to remember is that you can negotiate shipping rates as a small business. 

Yes, your carrier may charge you a certain rate, but you should compare the rates of different carriers and use them as leverage for negotiation. Although negotiation will be different from carrier to carrier, telling your carrier about the rates other carriers offer can go a long way to securing a great deal. 

You might well need the carrier, but they need small businesses like you too!

2. Ensure Quality Packaging

It’s easier than you might expect for items to get damaged while they’re being shipped. 

Remember that there are thousands of other goods being shipped along with the parcels you’re sending and they’ll all be treated the same while they’re going through the shipping process.

As a result, you may need to use more protection for your items than you might think. With the risk of items arriving damaged or simply broken, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

3. Be Clear on Costs

There are quite a few factors that can impact shipping costs, and they’re all worth being aware of. 

For example, customers generally expect products to reach them quickly, and they prefer free shipping too. While these will cost you more, there can be ways to offset the additional charge.

There are also sometimes additional costs for extra services, such as insurance or tracking, so you’ll need to consider if you want these. Meanwhile, larger and heavier items tend to cost more to ship, while the distance the package travels will also impact the cost. 

4. Be Aware of Shipping Zones

So, you’re sending a package to a given destination. 

This package will be crossing through at least one shipping zone. Shipping zones are areas set by carriers, each containing a number of zip codes. The ‘origin zone’ — where the product began its journey — is Zone 1, and so the number of the destination will be higher the further away from the origin zone it is. 

As a result, shipping costs from New York or Florida to California, for example, will be more expensive than shipping from California to elsewhere in the state. You may decide to target local customers, as this can save you money on shipping costs.

5. Purchase Software

Looking into shipping software is something that can definitely be worth your while, saving you both time and money, and there’s no need to be a tech genius to use it either!

There are quite a few advantages to using shipping software, as you can reduce your shipping rates, see shipping rates from numerous carriers in real-time, get a summary of shipments, sort out shipping labels and packing slips, and get help with returns too.

Purchasing shipping software will definitely save you some jobs, and you’ll have more time (and money) free to direct to other pressing matters.

6. Adapt to New Technology

You don’t need us to tell you that technology is constantly changing and evolving, but it’s true! It pays to keep on top of new technology and utilize it where possible.

If you want to keep ahead of rivals and make various tasks easier, you should definitely be keeping up-to-date with new technology. Automation in the shipping and freight industry is becoming more widespread, with shipment tracking and automated auditing, and there’s a reason for that — it creates less work for yourself and employees!

7. Consider Free Shipping

Free shipping is something that you might be considering. If you include the cost of shipping in the price of an item, it might feel too high, and as an alternative, you could offer free shipping, or a discount, on orders above a certain amount. 

Many customers make an effort to look out for free shipping, and will often buy additional items to meet the requirements to get free shipping too. It’ll avoid the issue of customers abandoning their cart when they see the ‘plus-shipping’ price too. 

8. Regularly Audit Invoices

It might not be the most exciting task in the world, but it can save you losing a lot of money in the long term. Often, carriers can make errors with billing, and if you aren’t auditing invoices on a regular basis, it can be easy for nobody to notice.

By auditing your invoices, you can gauge the level of service you’re getting, and you can even use this when negotiating too. 

To make the process a little less tedious, you can look online to find automated alternatives — it’ll definitely save you some time. 

9. Partner With a Fulfillment Center

There can be a lot to manage when you’re a small business dealing with shipping, so one option is to partner up with a fulfillment center. 

They can ship your items from centers closer to your customers, potentially saving on shipping costs, and they often have good relationships with carriers, which leads to savings. 

Working with a fulfillment center won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking to take the hassle out of shipping, it can be an option.

Making the Most of Small Business Shipping

When it comes to small business shipping, where do you start? There’s a lot to consider, but taking our tips into consideration should make the process somewhat easier — and you don’t have to be an expert to follow our advice and learn all there is to know about how to ship products.

If you’re looking for more tips on maximizing your success as a small business, make sure that you check out the rest of our posts! We might have just what you’re looking for.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.