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How to Save Money on Shipping for Your Small Business

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If you are starting an at-home business that requires shipping products to specific clients, you need to find ways to meet the demand without breaking the bank. Traditional shipping costs can really rack up the cost of your items, and consumers see low-cost, fast shipping as a motivation to continue shopping with you. Here are some ways to save on your shipping while meeting all of your clients' needs. 

Consider a freight broker.

Freight brokers serve as a liaison between you and large shipping businesses. They can help you to get lower overall shipping costs by helping to broker a contract between you and the shipping company for future business. Generally, if a shipping company knows they will be able to depend on your future business, you can get a lower rate.

A freight broker can also help lower your costs by lumping your shipping needs in with other local business to share the costs of shipping with a large company. Maybe you don't have enough product to qualify for bulk shipping services, but if you and several other businesses use the same service, a broker could manage all your shipping needs together, especially if you regularly collaborate. For example, if you make custom fabrics and an associate makes quilting patterns, these shipping needs could possibly be linked together in a single shipment for greater savings. Consolidation means sending one truck instead of two trucks—and your broker is the best person to find those deals. 

Finally, a freight broker can also provide you with insurance. Not all freight brokers have contingent cargo insurance, but the ones who provide it can really be an asset for your business. This way, if a shipment does not make it to the client, you won't lose money from the lost merchandise, and neither will the shipping company. 

Sometimes, large shipping businesses will direct small businesses to use a broker or optimizer to help save on shipping costs. If you don't use somebody who knows about fees, contracts, and shipping patterns for small businesses, you can lose a lot of money while trying to manage your shipping needs alone. Shipping brokers are experts in knowing the fastest and cheapest pathways for packages with specific weights and destinations. 

Use discount shipping materials.

Packaging is one way that you can communicate quality to your consumers. Streamlined packaging appearance and quality show that you take your product seriously. However, you don't need to pay through the nose for custom packaging. Instead, appeal to green-minded customers by choosing cheaper recycled options, like boxes made from recycled paper and starch packing peanuts instead of foam or plastic. Provide a send-back incentive for customers to mail packing boxes back (a coupon for 5% off the next order and a return shipping paper can be included in the box). This way, you can reuse boxes or recycle them for new material. 

Also, keep in mind that the US Postal Service provides boxes for free. You can order these on their website in bulk amounts. 

Invest in some shipping equipment.

Small businesses who are novices at shipping packaging may estimate shipping costs and set them at an arbitrary (and sometimes too low) rate. Instead, use a portable postage meter to calculate the exact shipping amount for your customers. This way, your customers aren't being gouged with high shipping prices, and you are footing the bill for a package that is unexpectedly more expensive to ship than your estimate indicated. With a postage meter, you can print your own shipping labels at home or at the office and have them be completely accurate.

For more information on saving money with shipping costs, contact a freight-broker logistics company such as Erkon Logistics in your area.