In a Nutshell: the Benefits of Bulk Shipping
There's no question about it, demand for bulk shipping is only increasing. Here's what you need to know about bulk shipping.
Bulk shipping isn't restricted to one definition:
On the one hand, bulk shipping is simply the shipping of bulk cargo; unpackaged goods transmitted from place to place to be further parceled and distributed down the line. You can look at it two ways:
- On a much smaller scale, you can think of the “bulk section” at your local grocery store in which shelf-stable goods are portioned out as the customer sees fit
- On a global scale, however, these goods aren’t granola or almonds--but rather massive containers of items like natural gases, oils, grains, and the like--and are assessed not by the pound but by freight class, dimensional weight, and distance traveled
On the other hand, bulk shipping has a broader explanation that tends to interest mid-sized vendors, as it helps them qualify for volume-based discounts while shipping with the same carrier. Almost all carriers--and certainly all of the larger, national or international carriers--offer discounts based upon how much business you do with them. Carrier contracts can be made to benefit shippers at all levels and can be specific to whatever their needs may be, for example weight distribution or zone restrictions of the specific delivered location. For shippers with an ongoing and predictable monthly or yearly bulk, carrier contracts--along with operational improvements and adjustments--can be a cost-effective way to handle large and constant shipping needs.
For smaller vendors, however, negotiating carrier contracts for volume-based discounts on bulk shipping might not be feasible. Not anything to worry about because there are still many options available. USPS, for instance, offers different “bulk permits” for different types of parcel. If you’re sending out a mass mailing, for instance, USPS’s bulk Marketing Mail option might be of use, or their First Class Package service for parcels fitting certain size and weight parameters. Bulk shipping through USPS is usually considered to be either 200 individual pieces or 50 pounds--whichever is less. Specific Services like these are helpful for businesses that send similar or identical packages out in regular quantities.
Finally, there is an increasing number of “shipping consolidators,” or companies for whom carrier contracts have negotiated discounts and are available due to their role as the shipping provider for smaller sellers. These companies can often be paired with typical small-vendor storefronts, such as those housed by eBay or Shopify. In addition, some offer additional benefits such as insights into other means of saving on shipping, whether through considering different shipping methods, or through packaging considerations.