By Brian McKay

If there’s one cost that many entrepreneurs overlook, it’s the cost of shipping. While most business owners plan for every other part of owning a business, often the cost of shipping is not something that is included within this. For one reason or another, when it comes to running a business, often the costs that come with shipping are overlooked. This can cause some serious problems, especially when you only have a small, set budget to work with.

The good news is that while shipping can be an extensive and unexpected extra cost to cover, it doesn’t have to be. If you are mindful of where you purchase your products from, how you purchase them, and the way in which you intend to sell them, you can significantly reduce your spending, and make your business more affordable to run, which is vital if you want to see it succeed.

Taking all of that into account, if you are yet to determine how to trim your shipping costs and reduce your spending, you’ve come to the right place. Like every aspect of business, there’s an art to cutting costs, it’s just a case of learning it.

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Compare prices (and services)

The first thing that you need to do is take the time to compare your options. The best way to do this is to compare prices and services - fat too many people make the mistake of picking any old shipping service, instead of taking the time to actually look at what each one offers, and make an educated decision about which option is best for you. Say, for instance, you plan on ordering certain items from China via Amazon, it could be worth choosing to ship to FBA from China, or if you don’t want to ship to FBA warehouses, you could opt to ship items to your own warehouses using this service. When it comes to selecting a shipping service, what you want to look for is the option that offers you the best ‘bang for your buck’ so to speak, but without compromising on quality, of course.

Look into flat rate shipping

Another simple hack for cutting shipping costs is to look into flat rate shipping. This is a shipping option that standardizes the process and prevents the variability that usually comes with choosing a shipping service. What flat rate shipping means is that you will pay the same amount for each time you ship. The only downside is that normally, companies like FedEx and UPS will only offer a set box size for flat rate shipping. However, that being said, if you were to meet with your local representative for whichever company you choose to ship with, you may be able to discuss customizable options.

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Don’t be afraid to negotiate

No price is ever set in stone, or at least, when you run a business it isn’t. What most shipping companies know is that once a business choose to use their service to ship their products, it’s unlikely that this will change in the future, due to the sheer hassle of it. Which is why, most shipping companies will be willing to offer a wide range of deals and discounts when you first sign up, to help entice you to choose them. It’s down to you to decide what you want/need from your shipping company and to get it. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t be nervous to ask for deals or discounts - you are offering the shipping company a great deal of work, so you have a right to try and reduce costs slightly. Even if you don’t want to switch companies, every once in a while, do some comparing and see what other shipping companies are offering. If you notice that one has a better deal than the company you’re using, ask them to match it - the chances are, if they value your business, they will.

Choose a company that offers software

When it comes to your business’s shipping needs, naturally you want to make things as easy for yourself and your team as possible, which is why it’s a good idea to use a company that offers complimentary shipping software which makes the process of placing shipping orders and tracking them, easier than ever. Did you know that FedEx is just one of the many shipping companies that offer scales, computers, software, and printers for businesses using their shipping services? This means that you will get everything that you need included in the cost of your shipping and won’t need to spend a penny to get it - how useful is that? If your service doesn’t offer this - or haven’t mentioned it - don’t be afraid to ask. You never know, this might be a service they have but don’t share unless asked, so it’s always worth questioning it.

Outsource supply management

Unless you have an on-site supply management team in place, then you are most probably going to want to outsource supply management. After all, this part of running a business is highly stressful and time-consuming. Plus, by choosing to outsource the task, instead of hiring an in-house team to deal with it, you can reduce your costs further. Because an on-site team has to be paid for every hour they are at work, even if they aren’t working, this option tends to be far more expensive than outsourcing. When it comes to outsourcing this task, don’t feel like you have to use a larger and more well-known firm, instead do your research and look for some smaller companies. These are usually willing to bend over backwards to get you the best deal, plus their customer service is often far superior to what larger brands offer.

The fact of the matter is that every part of business can be expensive, there’s no getting away from that. However, shipping is one area of many that you can fairly easily reduce the cost of, it’s just a case of knowing what steps you need to take to do so, that’s all. Hopefully, the tips above will make that easier for you.

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