How To Get The Cheapest Shipping Rates In 2023
Shipping costs breaking the bank? Read our guide to getting the cheapest shipping rates for your small business.
Getting the cheapest shipping rates requires shipping carrier research and strategic packing.
Keep reading to learn how to get cheap shipping rates for every package size and destination.
Table of Contents
- Who Has The Cheapest Shipping Rates?
- What Is The Cheapest Way To Ship Small Items?
- What Carrier Has Cheap International Shipping?
- 8 Ways To Get Cheaper Shipping Rates
- FAQs: Getting The Cheapest Shipping Rates
Who Has The Cheapest Shipping Rates?
USPS has the cheapest shipping rates for lighter packages. FedEx and UPS are comparable in price for heavier boxes and guaranteed rush delivery. USPS and DHL Express are similar cheap options for lighter international shipping. UPS is usually the cheapest for heavier international package delivery.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Ship Small Items?
Shipping using USPS First-Class Mail is the cheapest way to ship small items up to 13 ounces. If you use USPS Priority Mail for items up to 70 pounds, you get free boxes, package insurance, no fuel surcharges, and flat rates. Sometimes shipping large items by dimension with UPS or FedEx is cheaper.
Dimensional shipping pricing is based on the length, width, and height of your package rather than the weight of the package itself.
What Carrier Has Cheap International Shipping?
USPS First-Class and USPS Priority Mail International have the cheapest international pricing. If you want to ship larger items or ship items faster, then DHL International and UPS often have the cheapest international pricing.
8 Ways To Get Cheaper Shipping Rates
1. Pack Lighter & Smaller
USPS, UPS, and FedEx all take into account the size of the box you’re shipping items in as well as the weight of the box itself. Intuitively that makes sense since you can only fit so many boxes in a truck at once.
In general, the smaller your package dimensions are, the less you will have to pay to ship. Try to use the smallest packaging possible and as little packaging material as you can without risking damage to your products.
For example, if your item will ship securely in a padded mailer, use that instead of a box and filler paper.
FedEx and USPS provide a variety of free shipping supplies for their customers. Take advantage of different sizing options when you order free materials.
2. Use (Enough) Quality Packing Materials
In the shipping world, cheap is not always cost-effective. Packaging your products with insufficient padding can be a costly mistake.
Reduce the number of refunds, replacements, and bad reviews your company faces by using quality packing materials every time.
3. Get Free Packaging Materials
One excellent way to save on shipping is to reduce the amount you spend on packaging supplies. There are quite a few avenues you can take to cut these expenses.
Ship With Priority Mail
Using Priority Mail lets you take advantage of USPS’s free boxes. You don’t have to purchase any boxes you send through Priority Mail.
Also, you can save a few of these boxes to use for other non-Priority Mail shipments. Although the USPS does not look kindly on merchants who order loads of boxes and never ship with Priority Mail, they don’t mind if you smuggle away a spare box here and there. Cut up spare boxes and use them as dividers and fillers in other shipments.
Go Dumpster Diving
If you aren’t afraid of getting your hands a little dirty, you may be able to benefit from the cardboard recycling of neighboring businesses. Grocery and retail stores produce a shocking amount of waste, and much of it includes reusable packaging materials.
Help reduce waste and cut costs by finding out when stores usually throw out their packing materials. Show up at those times and ask to keep those materials, or talk to someone about saving mailers, boxes, and filler material for you in advance.
While recycled and cut-up materials may not look the nicest, they definitely reduce the amount you spend on your shipments. Consider if looks or expenses are more important to your brand and make a decision from there.
Use FedEx’s Free Shipping Supplies
Take advantage of FedEx Office’s free shipping supplies and DIY design and printing services for marketing materials. If you need a few extra hands, look into FedEx’s packing and design services for assistance.
4. Ship With Bubble Mailers
Bubble mailers are the perfect way to send those less-than 13-ounce products through USPS. They’re light, inexpensive, and don’t take up much room.
If your products (like clothing or books) don’t need much padding, try sending them with a bubble mailer.
5. Look Into Last-Mile Delivery
If you often send shipments through UPS and FedEx, and you’re looking for ways to cut down on fees, you should consider using last-mile delivery options.
With services like UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost, you can send packages without incurring residential surcharges. Your chosen carrier will simply drop off packages at your customer’s local post office, and USPS handles the neighborhood delivery.
Using these services will add an extra day or so to your delivery time. However, they will also make your shipments cheaper by eliminating residential surcharges. Weigh the merits of speed and cost as you decide when to use last-mile delivery services.
6. Look Into Business-Specific Programs & Discounts
USPS, UPS, and FedEx offer volume-based discounts and loyalty programs for businesses. Compare the perks of different programs over time to figure out which shipping carrier is the best for your specific business size.
Merchants can also negotiate their shipping rates as they grow in shipping volume.
7. Consider Alternative Shipping Solutions
USPS, UPS, and FedEx are the “top three” shipping carriers in the US, but they’re not the only ones.
DHL is a popular private carrier service that works well for international sellers. In fact, DHL has a program for merchants, DHL eCommerce, that offers many perks to high-volume sellers.
Also, if you’re only shipping within a certain area, check out regional carriers that can meet your shipping needs. Regional carriers often have lower operating costs and can pass those savings onto their customer base. They may not add weekend or peak season surcharges, and if you have to pay a fuel surcharge, it will almost certainly be less expensive with a regional carrier than a nationwide shipping provider.
8. Automate With Software
For many online sellers, juggling multiple shipping carriers is a necessary part of fulfillment. However, without the right software setup, using more than one shipping carrier can be a pain.
For this reason, we recommend merchants look into shipping software. Shipping software will import your orders from one or more sales channels, automatically calculate shipping rates for multiple carriers, and simplify purchasing postage and printing labels.
Plus, many shipping software providers have partnered with certain carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to offer discounts to software users.
Read our post on the best shipping software to find the shipping software that’s right for your business.