Here's What You Need to Know About Business Shipping Rates
Seeking out more information on business shipping rates usually means that your company is growing, which is always a great sign. But the dizzying amount of information available on business shipping rates--which are offered by all major and minor carriers in a vast combination of programs and unique customizations--is less than great. Other than knowing that shipping costs are eating into your profit margins, it can be difficult for smaller businesses to know where to start.
As with any major decision concerning your business, it’s a good idea to take stock of your current situation. Figuring out your current shipping practices can help you clearly articulate how and if they need a change. For starters, how many shipments do you send out per month? Is this a steady number, or are there (predictable) high and low points? Where do the majority of your shipments go? Are they hyper-local, statewide, nationwide, or global? Have you sought or tracked customer feedback around shipping? If so, are there issues of speed, package quality upon delivery, or high return rates?
Once you have clearly assessed your business’ current shipping practices, along with what you’d like them to be, it becomes easier to search for direct solutions. Do you regularly ship small, fragile objects, and find that DIM charges are killing you? Consider investing in custom packaging that allows you to further enhance your company’s brand. Conversely, do you frequently ship large, heavy objects with low profit margins due to shipping costs? Consider using USPS or UPS’ flat rate shipping, which allows you to send up to 70 or 50 pounds respectively at unchanging rates.
Once you’ve dealt with these more particular issues, you may find yourself still in need of a more general solution. Business shipping and business shipping rates are something of a catch-all term for shipping and fulfillment strategies for smaller businesses, and can encompass everything from the above (packaging considerations, flat rate shipping) to particular programs. All of the major carriers offer small business programs, from USPS’s Click-N-Save, which allows businesses to print shipping labels remotely, to DHL’s small business solutions, which helps companies with international shipments in particular. And you don’t need huge numbers to qualify--an account with UPS, for example, promises discounts of 20% on ground packages to shippers averaging two packages per week every six-week shipping period.
If you do find yourself with those larger numbers, however, it may be time to start direct negotiations with your carrier. This contract should be informed by the issues your original shipping assessment found--the more specific your requests, the better (everyone, after all, wants cheaper, faster shipping!). It may also be time to consider software solutions or even outsourcing fulfillment altogether. Software that tells you how to ship, with what, and in what package, can be an invaluable tool. And finally, if time and space are your prime issues around shipping, partnering with a 3PL could be just the thing to help your business scale.