You can’t have an ecommerce without shipping. Shipping is only half of the business. In this blog, I will discuss how you can save on shipping and what you need to know about shipping.

How to Save More on Shipping?

USPS (United States Postal Services) offers its own platform where you can create a shipping label and schedule for a pick-up. The problem is they only offer a priority and express shipping class. With only two options, it’s costly. For more shipping options, you will need something like Stamps.com and PayPal Shipping. They offer many shipping options. Stamps.com has subscription plans low as $9 a month. Unless the platform or a marketplace you use offers shipping labels, you can take an advantage of as well. Keep in mind, how a shipping rate is calculated is based on 3 things: weight, dimensions, and time.

Weight

It’s easier to set a flat rate or ballpark a weight for shipping. You’re bleeding money right there. You will need to be accurate as possible to keep the cost as low as possible. I recommend getting a weight scale. They’re widely available and affordable. All first-class shipping with USPS must be under a pound. They go from 1 oz to 15.9 oz. When it reaches 16 oz, it’s 1lb. With the USPS, it’s weird how they calculate the price for the weight between 1 and 2 pounds. When a package weights 1lb, it will be charged as 1lb, but if the package is 1.01lb, the postage is calculated as 2lbs. To be on the safe side, make 1lb as 2lb because it takes a shipping label or humidity to flip the scale. It’s always safe to round up the nearest pound because you do not want any of the packages to be returned as an insufficient fund or to be billed later for underestimating the postage cost. Another advantage of having a weight scale is you can add the weights of the products to your platform. When a customer checks out they get the most accurate shipping postage.

TIP: Be sure your weight scale is in the imperial system of unit (i.e. pounds and oz) instead of the metric system of unit (i.e. grams and kilograms).

Dimensions

Dimensions are required for any packages weighted over a pound. FedEx, UPS, and DHL all require dimensions when placing an order. They go by cubic. Cubic is measured using this formula:

If you have a package of 20” L by 16” W by 13” H, the math will be

A 20x16x13 package is 2.41 Cubic. Then they will apply their rate to 2.41 cubic as well as the weight of the package. It’s always a good idea to minimize the dimensions as possible to shave off a couple of cubics. It’s also handy to keep a measuring tape with you when dealing with shipping.

Time

This is self-explanatory. USPS First class ships within 3 to 7 calendar days, excluding Sundays and holidays. USPS Priority ships 2 to 3 days depending on where. Express is 1 to 2 days. The most common misconception about USPS Express is that it’s overnight. Actually yes and no. It’s only overnight if it’s an eligible location. Ineligible locations are 2 days even with Express rate. UPS and FedEx offer many rates depending on time. Both offer ground which is the most economical rate. The ground also means if there’s any kind of disruption due to weather, mechanical failures, short staffing, etc. it’ll move when it can. Air, such as overnight to 3 days, will meet it’s the timeline as quickly as possible. They’re expensive as well. Because I sell individual shirts, I usually go with USPS first class. For large custom orders, I use either UPS or FedEx.

International Shipping

Offering products internationally would help increase your sales. However, because of international shipping, there are some steps in the process that will require more than just buying postage. You will need to fill out a customs declaration form which is usually available through any postal services. A customs declaration form is basically declaring the item and its value when reaching an international custom. Most countries have what they call the Value Added Tax (VAT). Those countries add taxes to goods when arriving in their country. The customer will need to pay for the taxes before they can obtain it. You can prepay VAT tax for your customer but I recommend having your customer pay for the VAT tax because VAT tax varies from one country to another. International shipping is also expensive as well. Under a pound to Canada cost from $15 to $20. The same for the UK costs from $20 to $30. I recommend using DHL because DHL is economical and fast. However, due to COVID-19, international shipping, especially air, has tripled or quadrupled due to high demands. COVID-19 has also slowed down or backlogged at the customs. Using air, the package arrives at the customs faster, thus “skipping to the front” from those packages arriving by land or water. It’s not clear on how soon the prices will resume as “normal”.  TIP: Be familiar with the Harmonized System Code. It’s a universal code to categorize the product when declaring it. This helps speed up the clearance process at the customs. Without the code, the inspector will need to identify and classify it. This may take some time.

Logistics

Logistics is basically a system to make the shipping process more efficient. It’s a good idea to develop a system to streamline whatever resources and platform you have. The way we do it. We print out the latest packing slips. We pulled all of the stocks corresponding to the packing slips, hence the fulfillment. Then we stuff the product in the package with the packing slips shown. We weighed the packages at a time. We feed the weight to the system corresponding to the order number. All packing slips have order numbers. When the packing slips are printed, we slap the labels to the corresponding packages. Then, taped up the packages and dropped them in a bin to be shipped. A system can be designed in any way that best fits your business.

TIP: Look into getting a thermal printer. They can be efficient when printing shipping labels. The thermal printer can also print packing slips as well. The brand/make we’re using is DYMO LabelWriter 4XL.