Running a small business can be a very stressful job; trying to balance the money coming in the door, the spending, paying your employees and a list longer than I care to elaborate on all contribute to the stress. If you're a small business shipping products online then you have one more thing to worry about; shipping. It seems like if you want to succeed as an online business you have to have fast shipping, cheap or free shipping, and all around super-hero level shipping capabilities; if not the customer will find someone who is at least a little closer to that meta-human level. The reason shipping is so important is because if you do purely online business then receiving your product is the only physical contact the customer has with you and will therefore rate you on that. From the moment the order is placed you can guarantee they are watching the clock tick and if you don't fall within their expected time frame they will find someone faster. Here are a few tips and tricks to help alleviate the stress associated with small business shipping.
A very simple step to save money on small business shipping is to recycle the shipping materials at hand; this can be accomplished through a number of ways. First you can simply remove the labels from packages sent to you and re-use them when they are the right size and fit the need. You can also go to local businesses and ask for empty boxes as they generally have large quantities of them in the back waiting to be recycled and don't mind if you take a few off your hands. And while it's not recycling you should also take advantage of the free supplies the USPS offers if you choose to ship with them.
Print Your Labels Yourself
With the internet as big as it is it was only a matter of time before options like this became available. You can do a number of things in this department to save you time and gas money. If you just want to print your labels in order to save time standing in-line there are services that require a subscription fee to print you labels as well as free services; some require the use of a postage label printer, about $300 but worth it in the long run if you ship a lot. While others you can simply use your home printer and tape the label to the package. The advantage to this apart from just saving time is that they will often run online discounts, saving you minor yet additive amounts of money. Over time those little discounts really add up for small business shipping.
Compare Shipping Rates
This would seem like a no brainer but you'd be surprised how many people I talk to that just assume all the different companies charge the same thing; they don't. If you want to save the most money on small business shipping this is probably the most crucial step. You have to know that every package is different and every destination is different so to always make sure you get the cheapest postage be sure to compare the rates relentlessly and never just settle. Some ways to stay on top of this without using a lot of gas to drive around town is to use online services like Shipping Sidekick to compare the rates side by side one another and then choose which you want to use and print the label online, shipping it out in the banana box you got from the local grocer; see how I combined all three of them there.
Saving money in the area of small business shipping isn't rocket science. The package just has to be sturdy enough to hold and protect what you're sending, not a brand new cardboard box. The postage doesn't have to be purchased at the shipping desk; it just has to be paid for, online works just fine if you have the right printer. And remembering to compare shipping rates is something that will eventually be like second nature if you do it enough. So with these three little tips you can relax and rest a little bit knowing your shipping practices are saving you money.