Your e-commerce business may be paying hundreds of dollars or perhaps even more in shipping costs every day. Reducing such costs without decreasing customer satisfaction is always a challenge for any business, regardless of industry or volume of shipments. The good news is that there are a couple of things you can do about it.
- Don’t get stuck on one carrier but negotiate with at least two or three. While being loyal to one carrier may lower your shipping rates in the long term, if you consistently ship a large number of packages you are good business for carriers in your area and there’s nothing wrong with encouraging them to vie with each other for a contract with you. Sometimes it’s even possible to sign agreements with two different carriers to lower your expenses, e.g. one carrier may offer lower shipment rates on Saturdays than the other, and you could use it exclusively for Saturday shipments.
- Work with a regional carrier rather than a big one. If you are a small local business, regional carriers may be able to offer you similar services as UPS or FedEx but at a better price. Before you sign a contract with a regional carrier, however, you want to make sure they have a good reputation.
- Use an effective online inventory management system. Such a system automatizes many aspects of inventory management, reducing the inventory errors that spreadsheets can sometimes cause, and maintaining optimal inventory levels to avoid understock. This ensures that you can fulfill all orders on time using standard shipping, so that you don’t have to pay extra money on special shipping to make up for stock replenishment delays. If you are a 100% online business, use an ecommerce inventory management app as opposed to standard inventory control software, which may not have all the tools you need.
- Buy prepaid shipping if you send packages of a similar size and weight on a regular basis. Many carriers will allow you to buy shipping labels at least for some types of shipments, which can result in significant discounts on large orders.
- Avoid dimensional fees for packages that exceed the standard size regulations of most carriers. The simplest way to do this is by using the packaging your carrier provides, as opposed to your own packaging.
- Last but not least, an Intuit QuickBooks app for inventory such as DataQlick can further help you save on shipping by offering you sales forecasting for small business. By helping you understand customer demand and buying patterns, as well as determine the products that sell the best, DataQlick can make it easier for you to reach agreements with certain vendors so that products may be shipped straight from their warehouses to customers, without a sojourn to your own warehouse. You can find out more about DataQlick’s forecasting capabilities here.