When it comes to shipping packages, whether with you are shipping with UPS, FedEx, DHL, or the US Post Office, there are ten steps that every shipper must follow to ensure that their parcels are delivered in the right condition at the right price.
- Packing: The first step is to select the appropriate packaging for the item you are shipping. This could be a tube, soft package, cardboard envelope, or a box.
- Weighing: Shipping rates are determined by distance, size, and weight, among other factors. An accurate scale is necessary to prevent carrier charge-backs.
- Measuring: If you have a package over 3 cubic feet (1 cubic ft for USPS), you will need to know its dimensions in order to obtain an accurate rate.
- Rating: To calculate the cost of shipping, in addition to the weight (and possibly the dimensions), you need the shipper’s zip code, the receiver’s zip code (or city and country), and to know whether the recipient is located in a business or residential location. There are options such as insurance, requiring a signature upon delivery, and Saturday Delivery, which can add to the cost.
- Selecting a Carrier: You are now ready to select a carrier. Enter the above information in a carrier’s website or a shipping software application; you will be provided with the choices and costs associated with the level of service desired.
- Processing: Once you have selected a carrier and service, you will need to process the information. This can be simply entering the address details into a website or manually writing it on a carrier form called a waybill.
- Payment: Your options are to pay for it with your own account (which you will have set up with the carrier), have the shipping charges billed to the receiver, or have the charges billed to a third party, such as your business, if you have the account number and authority. If you are going to use the US Post Office or carrier’s retail store, you can pay cash or charge it on your credit card.
- Labeling: The processing system will generate a shipping label on a plain piece of paper or a thermal printer.
- Sealing: Put one label inside the box, seal it with clear plastic shipping tape, and place a duplicate label on the outside of the box on the largest surface.
- Hand-off: This means getting your shipment to the carrier. You could drop it off at a carrier facility or drop box, or arrange to have the carrier pick it up. On-demand pick-ups cost an extra $3-4 per destination address.
- Some carriers will provide free packaging for certain services. The US Post Office will give customers free boxes and envelopes for shipping items Priority or Express Mail. All the other carriers will provide various containers if you choose their express services.
- Shipping online at the carrier’s website is cheaper than going to their counter or store.
- You should make an extra label to put inside the box in case the label on the outside of the box comes off in the shipping process.
- You can look online at the carrier’s website and find the closest location to your work or home to drop off your shipment.