With the holiday season around the corner, shoppers are gearing up to spend generously during the sales, making it the most profitable time for retail businesses. For retailers both online and offline, an average of 20% of annual revenue is made during holiday sales alone. This increase in demand requires businesses to have a strategy in place for getting their products to their customers in a cost effective and timely manner. We know that in 2019, express and even same-day shipping has become and expectation, but so has cheap and even free shipping. How do you offer great service while keeping costs low?
Don’t let shipping costs break the bank. Here are five shipping strategies to save money:
1. Think outside the box.
The cost of shipping supplies can take a sizable chunk out of your budget if you don’t pay attention. This is where outside-the-box thinking comes into play. If you leverage flat-rate shipping―another proven way to cut costs, by the way―did you know that major shipping companies happily supply flat-rate boxes and different-size envelopes for free for using their service? It also won’t hurt to shop around for the best packing deals. We just read about a small business owner who saved 30 percent simply by switching to a different supplier.
2. Beware of picking the wrong delivery service.
Here’s another figure to keep in mind: 40 percent. That’s how much more in fees businesses that don’t map out shipping criteria spend than those that do, according to Tomkins Associates, a supply chain distribution and operations firm. In other words, these businesses may be paying for air services when ground would have been just fine―and much more affordable. Have a chat with the carrier’s small business specialist to determine what options you have based on the weight, size, and value of your packages.
3. Keep tabs on your carrier.
Delivery delays and invoice errors do happen, but it’s up to you to take advantage of the money-back guarantees offered by many carriers. Numbers show FedEx and UPS don’t meet their guarantees roughly 2 to 10 percent of the time, meaning you’re entitled to a refund. By keeping close track of your shipping invoices you can also catch additional charges. Although they tend to be difficult to recoup after the fact, you can ensure they don’t become a returning issue. Before choosing the carrier or service you want to use during holiday sales, make sure you do your research. Here are the 5 most reliable carriers in Canada for the holiday season in 2019.
4. Check the figures and check again.
Mistakes can cost a fortune. Just ask Tara Kennedy-Kline of TK’s Toy Box, who tells the story of her “big shipping snafu” in Entrepreneur magazine. When an assistant accidentally measured the weight of a shipment of 160 packages in kilograms instead of pounds, Kennedy-Kline got stuck with $24,000 in extra fees. Since that day, all outbound shipments are inspected twice and a manager signs off. You'd be wise to do the same.
5. Integrate, don't negotiate.
The busy schedule of a small business owner usually does not lend itself to time-consuming negotiations with a variety of carriers. Although you could call individual couriers and try to negotiate better rates, you’re better off leveraging a shipping platform that instantly connects you with the most competitive rates from major carriers. For Shopify businesses, use a shipping plugin or app that integrates with your online store. Other online stores or marketplaces like BigCommerce and Amazon allow this option, although it's not as apparent on their site. To get around this, use a technology like ShipStation to link to your pre-negotiated carrier rates to your online store if you already have them, or get discounted carrier rates through an order management software that integrates with your online store.
eShipper integrates with the most popular online stores and marketplaces including Shopify, Amazon, BigCommerce, Etsy and more to give customers negotiated shipping rates from the world's most trusted carriers. Click here to learn more about us or contact us for more information.