Although seemingly negligible, shipping costs add up fast. An obvious, yet undervalued, way to lower your shipping expenditure is to ship less. If you can, pick up orders yourself or put a low-level employee to the task. When partaking in direct mail marketing, clean your mailing list before you do anything. The USPS’s CASS (code accuracy support system) will parse through your mailing list, get rid of duplicates, and correct/clarify incomplete or inaccurate addresses. It evaluates and matches addresses with specific carrier routing codes, enabling the use of barcodes to save money. The USPS offers identical address management services, some of which are free (because undeliverables are a huge hassle for the US postal service). Additionally, eliminating non-responders, marginal prospects, and other undesirable recipients from your list will prove beneficial from a cost perspective.
Bring your packages to your preferred carrier early in the morning; they will usually ship them out immediately, giving you overnight or two-day shipping for the price of a first-class stamp. When your shipments require insurance, consider going through third-party firms such as U-PIC Shipping Insurance or Parcel Insurance Plan. These companies provide fantastic coverage for half the price of what the big carrier companies charge.
Like most situations, economies of scale prove advantageous when shipping. FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service all give discounts for shipping in large quantities. If you can, wait until you have a sufficient amount of parcels built up before you ship. Become a member of a specific carrier and ask your suppliers to use your account number to make shipments. In addition to increasing your shipping volume (which will usually give you better rates), having your suppliers use your shipping account makes them more accountable, preventing them from overcharging you on their shipping costs.
If you know your business will be making many standardized shipments (i.e. shipments of equal size and weight), invest in prepaid shipping. By purchasing the labels up front, you can expect to pay 20% less. Additionally, if you use the packaging provided by your carrier, you can avoid potential “dimensional” fees that are often issued if your box doesn’t adhere to the companies’ strict size regulations.