So, you’ve decided to set up shop online and want to figure out how to go about shipping your products to the customer. While there are several options to consider, I am going to shed some light on which might be the right option for your small business. Follow along for this quick Shipping 101 Lesson!
The Post Office
There’s nothing like the classic, right? If you are just starting out, and aren’t shipping hundreds of packages a month, and the items you ship weigh less than 3 lbs, then the post office might be the right choice for you. USPS is great for small items and items weighing in at under 3 lbs because the price of the priority mail shipping for these items is less than ground shipping at both Fedex and UPS. For items weighing less than 1lb, you can also use USPS first class mail which takes 2-5 days to arrive within the US and costs anywhere from $2-$5.50. This again is less than any price you will get with Fedex or UPS unless you get bulk shipping discounts for shipping hundreds of thousands of orders a day.
USPS is also a great easy option for shipping internationally at a much cheaper price. Shipments Internationally can take 2-3 weeks up to 4-6 days depending on which shipping method you choose, but it’s a much cheaper alternative to Fedex and UPS.
It is important to also note that if you are shipping to a PO box, you will need to ship USPS as Fedex and UPS do not deliver to PO Boxes.
The biggest drawback with the Post Office is that the shipments aren’t guaranteed to arrive in a certain time. While they will give you a shipping delivery window, I have found that roughly 15-20% of the time the packages don’t arrive in that window. So if you need a package to arrive by a certain date, you may want to choose another shipping service.
Fedex and UPS
Both of these companies are similar in that they offer quick service and guaranteed delivery days for all shipments. The biggest issue is that their shipping costs are higher for small items as well as really large items that don’t weigh much (such as pillows, etc) since they employ dimensional weights. Dimensional weights calculate the weight based on the size of the package versus the actual weight. But if your item is over 3 lbs, it is usually the best bet to go with one of these companies.
Now you may be asking how to choose between the two. And that is really up to you. You may choose based on which one has a drop-off location closest to you. But I have found their rates and services to comparable to each other. So there is no wrong choice here.
Calculating Shipping Costs for Customers
Pricing out shipping can seem tedious, but most e-commerce platforms have the options to calculate the shipping for you when you add your product listings. All you need to know is the packaged weight and dimensions of your products. You input that information and the shopping cart will automatically calculate rates and give options for your customers to choose from when checking out. If your shopping cart doesn’t have this option, then you will need to go to the USPS, Fedex, or UPS website to enter the information and calculate the shipping costs, then input that in your shopping cart for each item.
Scheduled Pick-ups Versus Drop-offs
All the services that I mentioned above have the option to schedule pick-ups. The post office offers free pick-up from your local mailman while they are out delivering your mail, however a small fee can be paid to have the pick-up scheduled for a certain time during the day instead of whenever the mailman delivers your mail.
Fedex and UPS also offer scheduled pick-ups. Pricing for these will depend on how many packages you ship and how many days a week you need a pick-up.
Dropping off at the shipping locations (post office, Fedex Office, UPS store) might be the best bet if you live close enough to them and have the time.
I hope this shipping 101 lesson helps you become a little more familiar with the shipping options out there and which might be best for your business. While you’re at it, make sure to check out our top 12 apps for your small business!
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Kara designs and sells everything from wrapping paper and throw pillows, to cocktail shakers and flower vases. All with the signature colorful bold patterns Kailo Chic is known for!