Every organization, established or starting up, is keen on keeping cost as low as possible to make maximum profits. Shipping cost can take up a huge percentage of cost if not properly strategized, which could eat into profits or prevent a start-up from breaking even.
Recent developments in technology have opened new doors for businesses to outsource functions to established shipping organizations. This is especially beneficial to organizations with large shipments. What about small organizations that do not have the volumes to economically employ those services?
Shipping cost can drain your business’ profits and extend your break-even point if you do not keep a keen eye on it. These tips could help keep it checked. Check out these six ingenious ways on how businesses can save money in shipping costs.
1. Package Appropriately
You want enough space for your merchandise without paying too much for unused space. Experts recommend that you leave about two inches of clearance to give your merchandise enough space for safety. If the items to be shipped are fragile, be sure to have enough bubble wrap to keep them from breaking.
The essence of having just the right packaging is to avoid paying too much for using larger-than-necessary boxes. Seal it appropriately with heavy-duty tape so that it does not come off during transit and force the transporter to seal it afresh. That, of course, would increase your shipping cost.
In as much as the merchandise in transit determines the type of box used, regular boxes do just fine for most shipments. Avoid using heavy packaging that only attracts high parcel costs for regular merchandise.
2. Establish Relationships
If you are a small start-up, the market is still new to you or you have not gained enough mileage to play in the big league then your best bet are the companies in your league. Look into the start-ups that offer these services and grow with each other. If they provide services as good as the established transport brands, you could score some good rates.
Depending on the number of products you ship, you could negotiate for better rates. Ask them to give you discounts based on targets that both of you set, or generally, agree to a flat rate of the total cost. Check if they provide terminal to terminal shipping and if it can help cut the costs as well. If you stick with them long enough, you could help them become a bigger brand, and they could keep you, their loyal customer at a special rate.
You could also agree to market them to your networks, and they could give you discounts for every referral.
3. Use Volume as Leverage
As your business grows and volume increases, make the numbers known to the more established providers. You could drop a number to an executive from the company that you want to work with and let them bait.
Let them know what your current provider is offering and see if they would come down to your level. If the volumes are decent and the future looks bright (your information is on the internet), most of these companies will let you play with the big boys. Convince them that getting your business would be to their best interest.
“A lot of small businesses think they aren’t large enough to negotiate rates with the shipping services, but they can. Open an account, get a rep and talk about options,” advises Rhonda Abrams, a columnist and business owner in Palo Alto, California.
Established shipping companies such as FedEx are quite expensive, but well known in the industry. With them, you are sure that your merchandise would be safe in transit and that time consumed would reduce drastically. That is why they are worth the premium cost. If you find a way of bringing them onboard at a favorable price, take it. Volumes and consistency are your greatest assets.
4. Recycle and Keep Records
If you have lots of incoming goods as well as outgoing merchandise, you could save the boxes from your incomings. The idea here is to ensure that you unpack carefully to prevent extensive tears that would render the boxes useless.
When you unpack, collect all the perfectly undone boxes, and use them for your outgoing merchandise. If the box is still in excellent condition, none will be the wiser. This only applies to regular packaging. Of course, for premium products, you would have to use brand new boxes.
As for your records, monitor what you send out. Measure the package before it leaves the warehouse and compare the data with your service provider’s. This will inform you on how much you are spending per day even before your service provider sends you the invoice.
5. Declare War on Expensive Packaging Material
You cannot afford to have one supplier and to stick with them for the rest of your company’s life. You have to shop around to establish whether you would get better rates elsewhere. Companies such as USPS will give you flat rate boxes free for using their services (or rather, they incorporate the cost in their rates) and so you can take advantage of that.
You can also buy packaging material in bulk to benefit from quantity discounts. While doing this, you are paying attention to your storage capacity. You do not want to spend too much on storage for material that you will not use in the short run. Keep an eye on the market for cheaper yet quality supplies.
6. Demand Refunds For Late Deliveries
When you are only getting started, you cannot afford to be late in your deliveries. Mistakes like those could cost you the same customer base that you are working hard to build. Most shipping companies, FedEx and UPS included, have a money back guarantee. If they fail to keep the agreed time, they promise to issue a full refund.
As a start-up, you may find it tedious and costly to track all the untimely deliveries and to seek a refund as stipulated in the contract. That is how Refund Tiger helps. They audit your transactions and follow the refund process on your behalf from service providers for a percentage of the total amount.
It is prudent to keep your own records that you countercheck with those of the courier service. Never stop scouting for cheaper means of transport because every penny counts. Establish rapport with shipping companies, possibly the smaller start-ups with a stellar reputation. Endeavor to keep your cost as low as possible, but the services as professional as you can. If you stay with a selected group of service providers long enough, you will reap benefits in the name of discounts.
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