Like most entrepreneurs, I’m constantly looking for ways to make my companies run more profitably, and I try to leave no stone unturned. I discovered a few years ago that I hadn’t really paid much attention to shipping costs – both for goods I order in and for products I ship to clients – and the year-end total was a substantial sum.
Since we spend shipping costs just a few dollars at a time, it’s easy to underestimate our expenses, but it turns out that we can save a bundle if we pay a little attention with strategies like these:
1. Make it a priority. Once a year or so, I sit down and review all my shipping costs. I check out my options, and make sure I’m working with the most economical choices. I’ve also learned that if I sit back and do nothing, shipping companies are happy to charge me the highest prices. I make an effort to be the squeaky wheel, and the result is better pricing.
2. Consolidate your business. I’ve had great results when I ask companies that ship to me to use the same account I use to ship products to clients. The pricing becomes more transparent, and I simply build shipping costs into my price to consumers. In addition, I become more valuable to my shipper since my business increases.
3. Use PUPs (Pick Up Points.) Say you’re selling hand painted wine glasses, and shipping to individual customers. If you can find a local kitchen store that’s willing to accept delivery of your items, your customers can pick up their glasses in the store. You’re saving money by shipping a large number of items in a single shipment, and you’ll also save on packaging costs as well.
4. Factor in packaging and shipping materials. Whether you’re talking about bubble wrap, tape, or boxes, there’s a cost associated with each one, which means there’s opportunity to economize. Price alternatives, and don’t forget to ask your shipping company if they offer discounted (or even free) packing supplies.
5. Opt for regional carriers. You do have options other than UPS, DHL, and FedEx. Explore pricing for local companies that may save you money and benefit small businesses as well.
6. Trim excess weight. If you’re producing goods to ship to customers, don’t overlook the degree to which your product’s weight affects shipping costs. If you can tweak your design to make your item lighter, you’ll save money.
7. Explore discounts. Depending on what you’re shipping, you may be able to find lower rates from certain shippers. USPS, for example, offers discounts for shipping books, CDs, and DVDs.
8. Check out hybrid options. Smart Post is a collaboration between UPS and USPS, that offers significant discounts on typical costs. As more merchandise is delivered to consumers’ homes, look for these hybrid options to increase and improve.
One of the key steps in running a profitable business is reducing expenses, and shipping costs are part of the whole package (pardon the pun).
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”