Which is Better for Taping Parcels? Paper or Plastic Shipping Tape

October 30, 2010

By Guest blogger Jay F. Perdue

We are grateful that a real expert answers the question today about which is better for sealing packages, paper or plastic tape. Jay has 25 years of experience delivering packages for UPS and has seen more packages than just about anyone. Here is his guest post.

Will that be paper or plastic Sir?

When it comes to shipping packages you have two choices for sealing your box: Paper tape or plastic tape. Most small shippers don’t even know that there is more than one option and use plastic tape. The larger shippers sometimes use the reinforced 3″ water activated paper tape using a tape dispenser. You can set the dispenser to give you a specific length of tape. Then, pull the lever and it gives you a perfect piece of tape every time. Sounds great, and it is fast and accurate.


After delivering packages for UPS for 25 years I have seen what happens to the packages that are sealed with paper tape and it is not pretty. I end up resealing at least 50% of these packages with plastic tape to keep them closed because the paper tape is either broken or not sticking anymore.

  • Paper tape will not stick to plastic tape if you are recycling a box with old plastic tape still on it
  • Paper tape does not do well in the extreme heat of summer
  • Paper tape is not flexible like plastic tape and will break when during the handling process

My recommendation is to use plastic tape with a hand tape gun. Even the cheap tape at about $1.50 a roll is a lot better than paper tape and the tape guns are cheap also running about $15 or so. It is about as fast as a paper tape dispenser and just as cheap.

Every sale you make is important to you and equally important to your customer. If you take special care to use the right size box and pack your item properly make sure you use plastic tape to keep it sealed tight.

Note from Mark: Jay has moved to Minneapolis/St Paul. If anyone needs a real shipping expert in the logistics field, Jay is available. Here is his LinkedIn profile.


eBay Seller Explodes Sales with this Shipping Tip

August 21, 2010

Here is a tip from Jay Eichler, owner of The Ultimate Thomas Store, http://www.ultimatethomas.com, that he say “exploded his sales in the last year.”

“Up to last year, I was a seller on eBay (and via my own website) which shipped most of my orders (under 3 lbs) via USPS. I would use their website (usps.com) to generate the labels and ship via Priority Mail. The shipping labels I purchased especially to print in the dimensions required by Click-N-Ship (or PayPal shipping, for those that use it).

I decided late in 2009 to upgrade my entire shipping station and purchase a thermal printer (purchased reconditioned off of eBay for ¼ of it’s “new” price) to print my labels. In addition, I upgraded to a USPS-approved shipping service (in my case, Endicia), which then allowed me to offer First Class shipping of my items which could ship for under 13 ounces. Yes, this would mean that I would not be able to use the “free” shipping supplies offered by the USPS for Priority Mail shipping, but I soon realized that the boost in sales my items would get would far outweigh the benefit of the free supplies.

The result of this combination of changing shipping service methods, as well as the thermal printer (which you can get labels for free if you have and use a FedEx or UPS account) has resulted in a surge in sales due to the lower prices I can offer. While I am paying for the Endicia service ($15.95/month), my costs are still lower due to the free labels and since I use a thermal printer, no use of printer toner.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…this was the best thing I’ve ever implemented to help my business.”

To provide you an example of the savings, I looked up how much it would be to ship a 12 ounce package from New York to Beverly Hills. As you can see below, a First-Class Package is $3.09 compared to Priority Mail with the online discount of $5.44. The savings is 43% which is HUGE for an eBay seller. Thank you Jay!

Get Faster, Bigger Returns with Self-Billing

August 17, 2010

By Guest Blogger, Niko Michas, President & CEO, BridgeNet Solutions, Inc.

Auditing has proven to be an effective way to receive refunds for erroneous shipping charges and compensation for a variety of other billing errors, but there may be an even better solution: self-billing. Often, the biggest setback companies have when it comes to implementing self-billing is carrier resistance. One thing you can do to combat carrier resistance is automate your billing process.

By automating your billing process, you eliminate the guesswork normally associated with trying to determine the accuracy of your shipping charges. You can uncover the exact charges for all shipments, regardless of mode. Whether you go through SAP a third party partner that specializes in creating less costly and more tailored electronic system solutions, your automated system will need to be able to do two things:

1. Properly house the shipping data for each and every shipment in your supply chain, and

2. Successfully compare your actual shipping charges to those outlined in your carrier agreement and your carrier’s standard rates.

Below are three ways you can leverage the benefits of using an automated billing system to gain more support for self-billing from your carrier:

  1. Explain to your carrier that your automated system will help them know exactly when and how much they will be paid because your invoices will be more accurate.
  2. Show your carrier how you will be able to pay them in as little as seven days, rather than in 60, 90, or 120 days, as in a normal billing cycle.
  3. Prove to your carrier you can lessen their financial burden by eliminating customer service and administrative fees normally associated with auditing.

Self-billing isn’t a new idea, but due to the still questionable state of the current U.S. economy and self-billing’s increasing popularity in Europe, more U.S.-based companies are looking to self-billing not just as an alternative to auditing, but as a way to get faster, bigger returns. Automating your billing system can help persuade your carriers to get on board with your self-billing initiative.

It “Fees” Like I’m Getting Screwed!

July 31, 2010

By Guest Blogger, Jim LeRose, http://www.agilenycmetro.com/

I did my due diligence by checking flights at Kayak.com. Then I booked with the least costly airline to Ft. Lauderdale, which also happened to be my preferred carrier, and at that time I thought I had paid for my flights in full. Little did I know…when I checked in months later, I would get hit with $212 in fees for the first checked bag per-passenger. That amount represented 15.4% of my total travel expense! It “fees” like I’m getting screwed!

Wall Street investors and airline executives are laughing all the way to the bank and at you while they snatch a lot more of your money then you expect. CNN reported the airlines are getting billions from these new fees and now the US government is being asked to step in.

I say, what’s the difference between what the airlines are doing vs. what UPS/FedEx are doing to their customers? Answer – not a thing. “Fees” like you’re getting screwed too? You don’t have to take it.

Here’s an example; Last week I met with one of my best customers who discovered from an audit report that I prepared, his company is paying around $2,000 per month just for address correction fees with UPS. This is a fee that penalizes a shipper for not providing the correct information on their shipping labels. Many of these fees were incorrect addresses for shipments sent to the same customers repeatedly while others are for incorrectly spelled street names. This prompted further investigation and more analytics. He quickly realized his undisclosed fees for items such as; dimensional, oversize, delivery surcharges, residential, Saturday delivery etc. totaled 13.7% of a 3m total transportation spend. That means they we’re paying $411,000 extra to the carrier without knowing. Within months we cut this number in half and saved over $200,000 per year in unrecoverable fees. This is not an isolated incident. What’s puzzling is why so many companies either don’t care enough to do anything about it or simply think there’s nothing they can do.

What can be done about big businesses tricking their customers into paying more?

When it comes to flying, from now on I recommend you travel wearing one layer of clothing for each day you will be away, i.e. seven layers of clothing for a one-week trip, and avoid checking bags. Simply remove one layer each day. I admit this solution may be a bit flawed, as it may be slightly difficult to move about the cabin, it can only be used during extremely cold winter travel but it may help the goal of reducing fees.

As you can probably tell I may not know much about reducing fees for air travel but when it comes to UPS/FedEx, there’s plenty I know and a lot you can do!

Here are five simple suggestions to lower or eliminate carrier fees…

  1. Get a reputable auditing company auditing your UPS/FedEx invoices immediately! You will get reports every month. Analyze the monthly reports so you can identify the overcharges. Overall my customers report the value of the information in these reports far exceeds the money saved from the actual refunds the auditors get for your company. You have to realize you have a problem before you can fix it and there’s no better way to identify the areas of overpayment then by using a 3rd party auditor.
  2. Get new shipping technology (Transportation Management System – TMS) deployed at your company that will disclose these fees prior to shipping and help you save money in other areas. The free stuff such as: UPS Worldship / CampusShip / FedEx Ship Manager etc. aren’t designed to help you spend less – that’s why they are free. Today’s TMS systems can save 15% or more on your annual UPS/FedEx spend.
  3. Get started using the USPS for residential shipments and/or low weight items. Their service has vastly improved and you may not know this but FedEx airlifts freight for Priority service.
  4. Get an accurate shipping cost exposed in your shopping cart. You must be able to expose the final cost of shipping in the cart so you don’t get whacked with unrecoverable charges later.
  5. Get a professional to help you negotiate lower fees or have them completely removed from your contract. Beware carriers have just announced they will NOT cooperate with the 3rd party negotiator of your choice so you will have to work with one behind the scenes.

Check out these links to see the current list of fees charges by your carrier:

I hope this information helps you Ship Better and Save Money.

Do You Know Shipping? Guest Blogs Welcome!

July 25, 2010

Have you done something to reduce shipping costs that made a difference? Would you like to share your success with thousands of people?

I want to publish ideas that have been proven to be effective in helping parcel shippers save on shipping. If you have any tips, suggestions, or guidelines that you can provide, and would like to contribute to my 2,000 + readers, please submit your blog entry to mark.taylor@myshippingcoach.com.

Here are my guidelines of how to write a tip that gets published:

  • What is the single idea that has worked? If you have more than one idea, you may submit multiple entries, but  keep each post to a single idea.
  • Explain your suggestion with steps on how to do it that follow in bullets or a numbered list.
  • Provide a title for your idea.
  • Then an introduction to it.
  • Then tell us the idea.
  • Give us the step on how to implement it—usually 3-5 steps.
  • And then, summarize it.
  • Please keep the number of words less than 300.
  • Don’t use this solely for promoting your product or service. In the footer, you can put your name, company and website or blog, and I will link to it.

My intention is for this blog to contribute to all small parcel shippers to make a difference. Thank you in advance for your contribution.

Got Challenging Issues in your Parcel Operation: Expert Help Available

July 11, 2010

There is a famous Japanese proverb, “None of us are as smart as all of us.”

I work with several dozen CEOs in Manhattan as a chair for Vistage. These are some of the smartest, most successful business executives in the world, and yet I am constantly amazed at what we can accomplish as a peer group working together to help one another. Last week, after the meeting, one CEO who was dealing with a quality issue said he was blown away by the suggestions that he received from his peers on what he should do to resolve the problem. “It all seems obvious now, but I didn’t see it until the group pointed it out to me.” He said afterwards. This is the power of a group of peers that have no other agenda other than helping one another.

In October, at the PARCEL forum in Chicago, we have 8 seats left for the PARCEL Key Management Program. This will be a group of peers in the parcel industry who will be together to help one another tackle their most challenging issues they face in running and growing their operations.

Last year, the collective wisdom of this peer group of experienced parcel and logistics managers came up with 25 actionable ideas for reducing transportation costs. This year we already have the following people on the peer board:

  • President of a distribution company
  • Manager of global transportation
  • Director of logistics
  • Director of transportation logistics
  • Transportation and logistics sourcing manager

If you are interested in getting help with your challenge and want to be a part of this exclusive peer advisory board, sign up today. My readers can get a VIP pass that will save you on your registration and qualify for $150 rebate on your airfare or $50 rebate if you drive in.

What is a DIM Factor?

July 5, 2010

Every shipping department and mailroom needs a measuring tape and a scale. The reason is that in order to calculate the correct postage or shipping charges, you have to know the DIM factor.

A DIM Factor is an acronym for Dimensional Weight Factor. It is a mathematical factor for calculating the dimensional weight of a package. UPS, FedEx, DHL, the US Post Office, and some regional carriers use dimensions as a factor in determining the cost to send a package. For example, the USPS has a DIM factor of 1 cubic foot or 12″ x 12″ x 12″. If a package exceeds a cubic foot in volume, instead of the weight of the package, they use the volume of the package to rate it.

Here are the steps for a 12 ” x 12″ x 13″ package:

  1. Multiply 12 x 12 x 13 = 1,872.
  2. Next, divide the total by 194. 1,872/194=9.65.
  3. Round up the result to the next whole number to get the dimensional weight of the package. 9.65 = 10 pounds.
  4. If the dimension exceeds the actual weight, you would use this number to calculate the shipping charges. So, in this case, even if you had a 5 pound box, (which is what happened to me) you will be charged for a 10 pound box.

For more information on how USPS calculates dimensional rate, click http://www.usps.com/prices/USPS_prices_dw_pop.html

For UPS, click http://www.ups.com/content/us/en/resources/prepare/dim_weight.html#How+To+Measure+the+Cubic+Size+of+Your+Package

For the FedEx dimensional weight calculator, click http://fedex.com/be/tools/dimweight.html

For the DHL dimensional weight calculator, click http://www.dhl-usa.com/IntlSvcs/dimweight/dimweight.asp?nav=Inttools/DimWeiCal

The USPS has a different factor than UPS and FedEx for domestic packages. You should compare rates between carriers based on package dimensions. For USPS, if the result exceeds 1,728 inches, you must use the dimensional weight. For UPS and FedEx, if the result exceeds 5,184 inches, you pay the dimensional weight.

Domestic is different than International. Here are the current factors:

  • Domestic you divide by 194
  • International you divide by 166