Top 3 Tips Sellers Use To Save Money on Shipping

The world of shipping is expensive, and only costs more as your volume goes up. We’ve compiled a few ways for you to save money on your entire shipping process through completely free supplies, discounted supplies, and tricks to lower your overall spend.

FREE SHIPPING SUPPLIES

Free boxes and envelopes from USPS, UPS, and FedEx

Packages are shipped in two main ways: boxes and envelopes. If there’s one thing that’s certain, are these supplies cost money. While you would only pay around $0.30 - $1.20 for boxes of varying sizes, those can add up to hundreds of dollars per month in added shipping costs on a monthly basis.

Luckily, all of the major carriers, USPS, UPS, and FedEx offer free boxes in a multitude of sizes across their different shipping services.

Free USPS boxes and envelopes – USPS is mostly known for the free flat rate boxes and envelopes, which are required if you want to send packages at Flat Rate prices. However, a lot of people don’t know that they give free boxes for their regular Priority Mail service, as well as free boxes for their Regional Rate service.

Bonus tip: Regional Rate is a lesser known service from USPS that can be cheaper than Flat Rate and Priority in certain circumstances. Also, Regional Rate boxes can only be ordered online and aren’t available at Retail Post Office locations.

USPS definitely has the most diverse range of boxes for you to order from, and they have a few envelopes like Flat Rate, Priority Express, and Priority Windowed Envelopes, available for free as well.

All free USPS supplies can be found here.

Free UPS and FedEx boxes and envelopes – If there’s one truth in the shipping industry, when one carrier offers a service, the others will offer something nearly identical to it. UPS and FedEx offer free supplies to shippers as well, all you need is a My UPS ID or a FedEx User ID. The range of boxes isn’t as large as what USPS offers, but look through their selection and see what matches up for your shipping needs if you haven’t already.

Order supplies(free and paid) from FedEx here.

Ordersupplies (free and paid) from UPS here

Free generic thermal shipping labels from FedEx and UPS

While most of the free items from major carriers are branded and focus solely on their proprietary services, UPS and FedEx offer the ability for their customers to order generic shipping labels completely free of charge. This means that if you order the right shipping labels from them, for free, they’ll work when printing labels across any shipping carrier service.

All you need to order labels from UPS or FedEx is an account with them, and if you ship regularly with these services you definitely have the credentials to login and order these supplies. One thing to note is FedEx does a better job of letting you know which kind of printers are compatible with their generic labels, although both carriers offer a variety of label sizes and types. Do your research and pick the kind that matches your shipping process!

Order supplies (free and paid) from FedEx here.

Order supplies (free and paid) from UPS here.

That’s it for free things, but the next step down from free stuff is heavily discounted stuff.


HEAVILY DISCOUNTED SHIPPING SUPPLIES

Shipping Label Printers

If there’s one item that can speed up your entire shipping process and cut down on overall costs and time spent fulfilling orders, it’s a thermal label printer. They’re made to print only shipping labels, can churn out a ton of labels quickly, and don’t require any toner—leading to a lot of money saved over time.

One of the most popular shipping label printers for small and large businesses is the Zebra LP 2844. It’s one of the printers we recommend to our users along with the Dymo 4XL Labelwriter. For the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on the LP 2844 because it functions perfectly with the generic labels given for free by FedEx to its customers.

Now, the LP 2844 isn’t cheap, but if you buy them refurbished they can be purchased for hundreds of dollars less than they are new. You’ll have to do some hunting for a good deal, but eBay, Amazon, and some independent sellers focus on refurbished units, and you can see many different offerings by searching “refurbished zebra lp 2844” in any of the marketplaces I described (or practice some Google Fu).

A few things to consider when finding a refurbished unit:

  • See if they have an option for an extended warranty. eBay listings typically let you add a SquareTrade warranty on top of whatever the seller offers.
  • Make sure you get a USB version of the printer, some older refurbs still use Serial Ports, and not a lot of computers still have those!
  • Go with a trusted seller that has a good amount of positive seller reviews and read their return policy if you aren’t happy with the printer.

SAVING MONEY ON POSTAGE 

Use a rewards card (cash back, flier miles, rewards cards) to buy your postage

Postage is an inescapable cost when running an e-commerce business. Luckily, your customers are paying for it (depending on your policies, however, you can be fronting most of those costs). If postage payments are always going to occur, you should at least have that money work for you.

Postage is typically bought with credit cards nowadays. It’s how ShippingEasy users top up their postage balance to buy labels from USPS. If you use a credit card that gives some sort of reward bonus, cash back, or frequent flier miles, every time you buy postage, a little bit of that purchase will go towards something beneficial for you. It’s like free money. If you haven’t started taking advantage of this trick, start soon so you can start accumulating those rewards.

Conclusion

So those are a few ways you can optimize your shipping process to help the bottom line a bit. You stand to save more and get more rewards the higher your volume. The price of boxes, envelopes, and labels adds up fast. Using a thermal printer will save you a lot on toner, and getting your labels for free will eliminate that cost as well. Combined, these 4 ways to save can result in significant savings.

One final thing to understand about shipping that isn’t really a tip, but can save you money is the difference between Retail Rates, Commercial Base Rates, and Commercial Plus Rates. These are the 3 main pricing tiers from USPS shipping services that are available through different means. Commercial Plus, the best rate tier, is available to all ShippingEasy paid plans and can also contribute to significant savings over time. See our comparison page on CPPrates to see everywhere you can save.

CPP Table

You can even see example rate differences using our PriorityMail Rate Calculator.

Make Shipping Easy!

ShippingEasy provides merchants with the easiest cloud-based shipping solution enabling order consolidation across multiple channels and multiple carriers, including USPS, FedEx and UPS. Enjoy massively discounted postage, advanced automation, and renowned customer service. Learn more

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Comments
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2
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LilyJ
May 16, 2015 2:02 PM
Great tips here, have learned so much just from reading 3 of your blog articles, can't wait til I've read them all
AnnAbbitz
May 17, 2015 1:24 PM
This is definitely a great post & resource for those who ship physical products. With my business being based around delivering written articles, etc., I am able to deliver 99.9% of my work via email. However, my husband has a leather crafting business which he runs out of our home, and I know that the USPS flat rate shipping has been a huge boon to his overhead. I will have to let him know to check out the competitors too. Thank you.

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