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What happens when a package is shipped to you?

There’s a good chance your business sends or receives packages – perhaps a lot of them! But have you ever stopped to think about the journey one of these packages makes? By better understanding the shipping process, you can make more informed choices about your shipping solutions.

Whether you’re sending a package or receiving one, your package goes through several steps between point A and point B. So what happens when you make a purchase and are expecting a shipment?

The first thing that happens – or happened, even before you personally made your purchase – is the vendor chooses a company with which to ship your package. Whether its UPS or FedEx, the United States Postal Service or Canada Post, each shipping company will have different options and rates that will directly correlate to how fast the shipment is delivered.

Depending on what you’re shipping, you may have no choice but to use ground-based shipping. Say you’ve purchased a large supply of lithium batteries. Since they’re considered dangerous goods and can’t be transported via aircraft, ground shipping is the only option. In addition, pricing for different shipping methods varies – ground is cheaper, but notably slower. FedEx gives a good example of your options on their website:

 “For a real-world example, let’s say you need to ship an iPad from Dallas to your best friend in Chicago. Your package weighs 2 lbs., and your box is 13″ x 11″ x 2″. Using FedEx Ground, you will be able to ship that package for as little as $10.78 and it will arrive in only two business days… ‘When it Absolutely, Positively Has to Be There Overnight®,’ FedEx Express has you covered. If it is Monday, and you need that iPad delivered from Dallas to Chicago by the end of the day on Tuesday, FedEx Standard Overnight® will be your choice. This service will cost as little as $67.33 to get your package there the very next day.”

Depending on when you need your package to arrive by, and how specific that arrival date is, most companies will provide a range of options for you that balance price for speed. This factor impacts the price of shipping on your bill.

After your purchase is completed and before the vendor can utilize the shipping company it has chosen, the product in question must be located in a warehouse. Depending on the size of the vendor, this can either be a simple process, or very complicated. For example, Amazon has warehouses across the world and uses an algorithm to decide what gets stored where. A smaller company won’t have nearly the same quantity of stock. This variable also affects how much AI and other tech is involved in preventing human error in the order fulfillment process. Larger warehouses will have more tech available to help human employees pick the right item for your order and know exactly where to find it.

Once the product is located and properly packaged, it is sent out for delivery via whatever method has been chosen. This may mean it’s loaded onto a truck or aircraft. If you are ordering from overseas and it is an especially large package, it may even be loaded onto a ship. If you want to track your package’s progress, you may receive a notification saying the order has been shipped when it reaches this point, allowing you to better estimate its arrival time.

If your package is being shipped internationally, you also have to expect it to go through a security clearance process through your country’s customs agency. For example, when Canada Post is bringing parcels into Canada, it must present each incoming package to the Canada Border Services Agency. The CBSA then inspects each parcel and either holds them for review or clears them for entry into Canada. Generally speaking, if you haven’t ordered anything off the prohibited items list, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

As you can see, a lot of work goes into getting your package from point A to B, especially if the package is being shipped internationally. There is much to consider when shipping packages, especially for businesses that ship often and must balance the cost with their customer satisfaction.

Minimizing Your Small Business Shipping Costs

Five Tips To Save Money On Shipping Feesshipping cost reduction services

Shipping carriers review their rates and services every year and, more often than not, those rates increase. Between the shifting popularity of specific shipping options, the fluctuating cost of fuel, and a plethora of other factors, the cost of shipping is rising for everyone.

While a hundred-billion dollar business like Amazon can offset these rising costs with sheer bulk, how can a more niche business stay in the black without increasing their prices?

Here are a few tips on how your home, online, or small business can offer competitive shipping rates and cut down on costs.

Size Matters:

Shipping carriers don’t only charge based on location and weight – they also take size into account. You can save money on your shipping expenses by ensuring you are always using the appropriate packaging for the job.

While it’s important to keep your product safe in transit, you should never use an oversized box when something smaller will do. Bubble mailers are a great option to keep smaller items safe and secure without breaking the bank on large package fees.

Free is Cheaper than Cheap:

Most major carriers give away free packaging. From FedEx to the USPS, you can find envelopes, self-sealing packages, bubble mailers, padded packs, express boxes, labels and countless other options for free. Of course – this usually comes with the caveat that you use that specific vendor to ship your product.

If you’re currently spending money on your packaging, make sure you take a look at your preferred shipper’s website and check out what free packaging they offer.

Third Party Coverage:

All the major carriers offer shipping insurance, but you can usually find much cheaper rates by foregoing the carrier’s offer and instead getting your shipping insurance with a third-party company. The difference can be as much as $0.50 per $100 of insurance, and while this doesn’t seem like a huge amount, these fees can really add up – especially if you’re shipping high value items like watches, jewellery or electronics.

Qualify For Bulk:

If you’re running an online store through an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, BigCommerce, or 3dcart, you may qualify for bulk shipping pricing. One of the main benefits of working with these types of platforms instead of creating your own sales portal is that they specifically work with carriers to negotiate and reduce shipping prices for the entire platform as a unit. By selling and shipping through an ecommerce shop, you leverage the bulk of everyone else who ships through the same platform.

Of course – many of these platforms also charge monthly service and transaction fees on your sales, so make sure you do a thorough value analysis to make sure you’re not just replacing your shipping fees with platform fees.

Accuracy in all Things:

There are plenty of different ways for your package to incur extra fees or grind to a halt in the shipping pipeline, and most of them boil down to not paying close enough attention to the details.

Choosing the wrong mail class for your item’s weight, underpaying the due postage and neglecting package dimensions can all incur fees. Perhaps one of the most common issues people run into is mislabeled packaging.

Your package’s shipping label takes shipping zone, weight, and size all into account – so you need to make sure these details are accurate. Another common mistake is printing the wrong zip codes on your label. Carriers calculate costs and speed based partially on the length of distance from the sender’s zip code to its destination, so it’s crucial that both your shipping address and the receiver’s address are correct.

Conclusion:

If you’re shipping from home or in quantities that don’t warrant bulk rates, it’s important to take advantage of the resources your carriers offer you and ensure you minimize mistakes that can lead to fees.

If you ship small packages or use courier services and you’re looking to make certain your fees are completely optimized, Schooley Mitchell offers a risk-free review of your shipping environment. If we don’t find savings for you, there is no fee for our services.