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.

One Inch Can Cost You Big When Shipping Packages

June 17, 2010

In my last post I challenged you to figure out why the USPS was more money for a light-weight residential package weighing five pounds. Congratulations to Steve Foster of the US Post Office. He noticed that the dimensions of my package were 12 x 12 x13, which put it in the category of a Large Package. The USPS charges more for packages that are larger than one cubic foot. So in my case, if that package were just 1″ smaller, it would have only cost $11.76 and the USPS would have been my least expensive carrier. That one inch cost and extra $9.59!

The lesson learned is this: when you are comparing rates and services amongst various carriers, make sure you include the dimensions of the package. Failure to do so will cost you plenty!

Shipping Myth: More Money Does Not Necessarily Mean Faster Service

April 30, 2010

Many of us grew up with the expression, “You get what you pay for.” This was meant to be a lesson to not be cheap. If you buy inexpensive junk, you couldn’t expect it to last long or perform as well. While this may be true in some areas, it certainly is NOT true when it comes to shipping. I can’t tell you the amount of waste that I have seen from shippers, who pay more, sometimes 10 times more, with the false belief that it will get there faster!

I have a peculiar hobby. I love to look at invoices and ask provocative questions. I was reviewing a FedEx invoice of a client the other day and saw the following:

  • A FedEx 3Day Freight shipment from San Francisco to Los Angeles for $745. I asked the logistics manager why he chose FedEx 3Day Freight for this shipment as was told, “We had to get it there in three days and did not want to take any chances. This customer would have been very angry if the shipment was late.” I checked and found that there were several Less Than Truckload (LTL) carriers that would have delivered the same shipment for $125 with a one day guarantee. He paid 6 times more because he thought that by paying more would be faster service.
  • I was in another client’s office and watched this Corporate Headquarters mailroom processing UPS 2nd Air packages. There were 100 packages in a pile on the floor, all being sent UPS 2nd Day Air and I asked why these packages being sent this way. The answer was that they received a corporate discount on UPS 2nd Day Air of 50% and that they wanted to be sure that all their sales people received this package by the weekend. Just for fun (and with permission from my client), I went through the stack and found 40 packages that were being sent in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT). All 40 packages could have been shipped ground and were guaranteed to be there by the end of the next day. (They were shipping on Wednesday and they were guaranteed to be there by 5:00PM on Thursday). The cost for ground was $8.00 per package. Their cost for UPS 2nd Day Air with their 50%, $11 with a guaranteed delivery of Friday—one day longer. So they paid 30% more and wasted over $320 with the false belief that because it was air, it would be faster.

The bottom line is that more money in shipping does not necessarily mean faster service! What can you do about it? Compare prices and delivery. Don’t assume.

How Are You Losing Money in Shipping?

April 10, 2010

Are you throwing your shipping dollars down the toilet?

As you may recall from the last post, I met with a client that was surprised when she discovered that she was losing over $100,000 a year in shipping. It did not seem possible because they were billing their customers for shipping at the published rate that the carrier charged. Let me provide a specific example, they shipped a package UPS 2nd Day Air and the published charge was $34.25; the billed charge was $26.71 because they have negotiated a 22% discount with UPS (which is poor but we will leave that for another time). So logically, you would think that they made a $7.54 profit on shipping this package, which would be great. However, on the UPS invoice there was an adjustment of $19.16. This additional charge shows up on the invoice after the package the shipped and after the customer was invoiced. So the result was that instead of making $7.54, this company lost $11.62 on this package!

Let’s look deeper and discover how and why they are losing money.

The first step is to review the carrier’s detailed invoices. In our example, we see that UPS made an adjustment. This additional charge shows that the package was re-rated at 14 pounds and it says Dimensions =20 x 15 x 9. What that means is that this package was charged based on the dimensions, not the weight. Let’s look further.

The next area to examine is what the shipping system computed for the shipping charge. In this case, my client has a UPS WorldShip software program for processing shipments, sometimes referred to as a shipment execution system or a manifest system. You can generate a report from this system or lookup a specific transaction. We researched the UPS 2nd Day Air package in question and saw that according to the UPS shipping system, it cost $34.25. So what was the difference? Why was my client charged $19.16 more?

Two reasons:

  1. The person that shipped the package did not enter the dimensions of the package and the parcel carrier based its charge on the package dimensions. For details on how parcel carriers compute this type of  charge, see my previous post, A Quick & Easy Way to Calculate Dimensional Weight. These type of errors occur because the person does not know to enter the dimensions or skipped it for some reason. It is generally a process error or training issue. If they had entered the dimensions, the system would have computed the correct base charge, but there was another problem.
  2. The UPS WorldShip did not add the 7% fuel surcharge to the published charge. Why? Because it was not setup properly so that the fuel surcharge is added to the base charge; this requires a knowledgeable person to configure the shipping system and to constantly maintain it!

The consequence was that my client was not really charging their customers the correct published charges because the shipping system was not properly calculating the rates due to setup and processing errors. The customers are invoiced based on data from the shipping system, not the actual invoices. Accessorial charges come after the customer has been charged. In this case, it was 33%of the published rate!

How to audit your parcel shipping:

  1. Review the Delivery Service Invoice item by item from your carrier; find all shipping charge corrections or adjustments.
  2. Research all adjustments by comparing the invoiced amounts to the charges in the shipping system.
  3. Find out why they are different and fix the system, create a process, and or train the operator.


    To be continued…