February 7, 2010
What is the cheapest way to ship a package? It all depends.
I received the following email from one of my readers. Thank you, you have raised some very good questions. Read my response below in blue:
I invite any of you with questions to email me at email@example.com. I may not be able to get back to you for a few days, but I read all my emails and respond.
I stumbled upon your blog and I’ve got to say, it is very helpful. I am a new Ebay seller and am new to this whole shipping business. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I use USPS for my shipping; I’ve found it to be cheaper than FedEx and UPS. Priity Mail Flat Rate Options
|Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope
||12-1/2″ x 9-1/2″
|Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box
||8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8″
|Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (FRB1)
||11″ x 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″
|Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (FRB2)
||13-5/8″ x 11-7/8″ x 3-3/8″
|Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (Domestic Addresses)
||12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″
|Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (APO/FPO Destinations)
||12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″
- You have a 2-pound package that is shipping to a zone 2 (someplace close). If it fits into the Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box, you can ship it for $4.95. BUT, if you put it in another box, it would only be $4.90. If you used the bigger Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box, you could pay $14.50—way more money!
- If you have a 5-pound box, the rating becomes more complex. For a Zone 5, you would pay $11.76. It would be cheaper not to use the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box. But the same package going to Zone 8 (cross country) would be $16.37, so it would be cheaper to the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box. Now, I could ship that same box with FedEx Home Delivery for $10.59 and save $5.78 with the rates I get from FedEx (email me and I will tell you how).
The bottom line is this: no carrier is the cheapest carrier for every kind of package. The USPS does a great job and is the cheapest for package shipping to residences that weigh less than 2 pounds. My advice is to compare carriers and services.
May 30, 2009
In my last post, I shared a real life example of a company that could have saved over $2,000 on shipping. I explained that ground service was guaranteed and would arrive at the same time as 3 Day Select for specific zip codes. I asked him if he would begin to compare rates and his response is astonishing—yet one I have heard too many times. He said no.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because we bill our customer for the shipping charge.” He responded.
“But you could save the customer 50% on those packages.” I replied.
“It doesn’t matter; it is too much of a hassle to change and it doesn’t save us any money.”
I see his point. Yet this is a serious problem. The carrier is the only one that benefits from this scenario. Why should he change? Why should he try to set up a system to compare service levels if it does not save his company any money?
What do you think?
April 7, 2008
One of my teachers once told me that to learn about what is really happening in an industry to watch comedians. Successful comedians take some aspect of reality and we laugh because it is true. Brian Regan shares his experience of trying to ship some packages. If you are an eBay seller or have ever tried to ship a package with UPS, FedEx, or DHL, you have to watch this video. It is too funny.
April 1, 2008
Would you pay double to ship a package for convenience?
As a small businessperson, I was always too cheap to even pay for full-service gas. If you’re going to the carrier’s shipping store to ship your packages, you are paying way too much!
Many people don’t realize that if they are a walk-in customer who goes to a parcel carrier’s store or shipping counter, that they pay a premium for that convenience. This is even true at the US Post Office. See USPS Rate Change Includes New Discounts: Do You Qualify?
Recently, a Wall Street Journal article talked about how a walk-in customer typically pays a premium because they are too small to negotiate volume discounts. I was curious about how much of a premium.
I walked into a major carrier’s store and was told it would cost me $18.71 to ship a one pound package from New York to Houston ($12.71 for shipping and $6 for packing). I compared that price to the same carrier’s website and saw that it would be only $7.27 (of course I would have to pack it). That is a savings of $11.44 on one package!
If you are an eBayer or a small volume shipper, you can cut your shipping costs in half by doing it yourself and shipping on-line!
Taylor’s Tip #6: “Don’t wait in line–ship on-line!”
March 31, 2008
If you are new to shipping or selling on eBay, you will need to set up a shipping center. This video will show you what you will need. The following 10 items will get you started with the basics:
- Packing Tape & Dispenser—I suggest the clear plastic tape that is 3 inches wide.
- Boxes—use a corrugated box that is new or in good condition. Choose a box that your item will fit in with a minimum 3 inches of space around it for packing material.
Taylor’s Tip # 5: Carriers provide free boxes for express shipments & the US Post Office has free Priority & Express Mail boxes.
- Packing Material—depending on the item you are shipping, you will need to prevent it from breaking or shifting while traveling. You can use packing peanuts, crumpled up newspaper, or bubble wrap.
- Shipping Envelopes—keep a supply of flat envelopes from the shipping carriers (free) and some brown padded ones for smaller items like books.
- Tape Measure—to measure the size of your package. Carriers charge based on the actual weight or what is called dimensional weight. Dimensional weight is based on the cubic size of a package. This is the length x width x height of the box in inches.
- Calculator—now that you have the measurements of your box, you will need to calculate the dimensional weight. For example: a box with the dimensions of 20″ (L) x 20″ (W) x 20″ (H) = 8,000 cubic inches, divided by 194 = 41.2 pounds for a “dimensional weight” of 42 pounds (always round to the next full pound). Now you know why you need a calculator. Or you can enter the measurements in this calculator.
- Shipping Scale—a digital shipping scale that weighs in pounds is essential; you can find one on eBay. Most parcel carriers ship up to 150 pounds but if you never ship anything over 50 pounds, you don’t need to overbuy.
- Label Printer—the ink-jet printer that you use with your computer is sufficient for printing labels when you ship online; if you ship more than a few packages every day, you may want to consider a thermal label printer that prints directly on 4 x 6 labels.
- Computer—the best way to ship is to go online. Shipping online provides discounts. Don’t waste time and money going to the US Post Office or a UPS, FedEx, or DHL retail store.
- Internet Connection—to get to the carrier and shipping websites, you will need an internet connection; hopefully, you are not still using a modem.