Expert Guide: Minimizing Your Small Business Shipping Costs

A few letters here and couple packages there can soon add up to a sizeable shipping bill for your small business. Find out how to keep costs manageable with these basic tips.

For small businesses, shipping costs can creep upward quickly. What starts as a few letters and packages becomes a marketing-campaign mailing or an uptick in product distribution. Soon, your shipping costs are multiplying, and you fear there's no end in sight.

But there are ways to keep those costs in check. Here are some strategies for minimizing shipping expenses without reducing business effectiveness.

Outsource Shipping Tasks

Part of the cost of shipping is labor. Even if you're the one boxing up product samples or addressing envelopes, think about how your time could be better spent. Using a retail solution, such as Staples, will free you up to focus on business tasks rather than shipping chores.

Eliminate Post Office Visits

Small business owners often spend far too much time standing in line at the post office. Skip the hassle and arrange pickup instead. If you have at least one Priority or Express mail item (and no single package weighs more than 70 pounds), the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will pick up your shipment. And that includes outgoing mail.

Create a Shipping Schedule

Some midsize and larger companies streamline shipping by sticking to a schedule for outgoing shipments. You can do this on a smaller scale by choosing one day per week for shipping and then scheduling pickup for that day. That will let you track trends in terms of volume and costs, and subsequently work to reduce expenses based on those trends.

Buy Stamps Wisely

Some online services allow you to print postage from your computer, Although this can be a good way to save time, it can also be a bad way to spend your money. Look closely at the types of fees charged for each item, including a basic usage fee, and you might be surprised at how quickly postage adds up. Instead of paying subscription fees, find free online tools, such as the USPS's Click-N-Ship for Business service.

Shipping costs may be modest for your small business now, but if you're not careful, they could add up in the future. Take control and streamline your strategies now.
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