If your small business does a lot of shipping to its customers, the recently announced changes from the United States Postal Service, which has raised rates and is ending Saturday delivery service for everything but packages starting in August 2013, will impact your bottom line. Justin Amendola, Pitney Bowes' shipping expert, shares tips on how we as small business owners could keep our shipping costs under control.
Here are 5 ways to manage higher shipping costs.
Cleanse your mailing lists.
With the cost of each mailing and shipping rising, it only makes sense to take time to review your existing lists and remove the wrong and outdated addresses. Doing so can immediately save money. More than 30 million Americans move and 11% of all ZIP Codes change every year. Bad addresses result in shipping delays, costly returns, and high customer dissatisfaction.
Start using an online shipping solution
If you bring your shipping in-house, you will automatically qualify for what the USPS calls commercial-based rates, which are much less than retail, which you pay at the window. Amendola says reduced rates are available to customers who use PC or online postage solutions, such as pbSmartPostageTM, permit imprints, or any of the leading digital mailing systems. A business can easily print shipping labels and manage shipments anytime. It also saves hours each month that you spend waiting in line at the Post Office.
Rate shop your parcels among all available carriers and delivery methods. If your package weighs less than 13 ounces, you can use first class mail, as this is still the lowest cost delivery method available for lightweight packages.
Use flat rate pricing
Priority mail is almost always cheapest for packages over 14 ounces to about 3 pounds. With commercial rates, your business can save 19% for Priority Mail® and up to 36% for Express Mail®. A 10-pound Priority Mail shipment that once cost $36.50, for example, can be sent for as little as $5.80.
Consider ground shipping
Parcel Post is no longer available. Parcel Select is now your best option for medium to large packages. This is a service from USPS launched last year that is designed for large and medium sized shippers looking for an economical ground delivery service. Standard Post is another option, but you'll pay up to 21% more. Parcel Select® offers good pricing on ground delivery from the USPS.
How does your business deal with rising shipping costs?
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America's #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com. Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works and the ebook: How To Become A Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.