5 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Money On Shipping Expenses

Five Ways to Save Money On Shipping Expenses

Shipping - the word alone can give many small business owners a headache. It's no secret that domestic and international shipping make up the largest expense for small businesses. So what can you do to bring that down?

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by Dan Allard

Jul 1, 2017

Key Points

  • Streamline inventory layout to save time and reduce shipping costs.
  • Compare shipping services on a per-order basis to optimize rates and delivery times.
  • Reuse packaging materials like bubble wrap and packing peanuts to cut expenses.
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Save Money On Shipping Expenses

Shipping - the word alone can give many small business owners a headache.

It’s no secret one of the largest expenses many small businesses have is shipping costs, and for many, the problem is getting worse. What was once a recoupable cost has turned into a standard business operating expense as many online retailers are offering free shipping on nearly everything they sell.

So how can small business owners compete and remain profitable?

While many struggle with this problem, savvy entrepreneurs are finding ways to reduce shipping costs, save time, and make the process easier. Here are 5 ways you can do the same:

1. Re-organize your inventory layout

One of the biggest shipping expenses isn’t the price you pay to the carrier company- it’s time. The amount of time it takes to find the product, prepare it for delivery, source the least expensive carrier service, print labels, drop it off, track the package…it all takes time. And we’ve all heard the saying-

“Time is money!”

So the first step to reducing shipping costs is to reduce the amount of time it takes you or your employees. And the first step to doing that is to reduce the bottlenecks in your inventory layout and organization.

There are many factors that go into an optimal inventory layout- the space you have available, amount and size of your products, average sales volume, and so on. We recommend starting by organizing your inventory that makes the most sense for your business. Then keep track of the movement in your warehouse over the course of a month.

After a month of tracking it’s time to analyze the data, make improvements, rinse and repeat. Unless you always sell the same product(s) it’s a never-ending process.

2. Compare shipping services on an order-to-order basis

Years ago it made good business sense to lock yourself into one carrier because you could negotiate better rates. Large businesses can still benefit from this, but small to mid-sized businesses save the most when they choose the best carrier for each order individually.

You may be thinking “how can I save time if I have to compare shipping rates for each order?”

That’s where we come in!

With our service, you enter the shipping information including weight and dimensions and with a click of a button you can compare rates from FedEx, UPS, PTC, and others to find the best rate and delivery time. Select the carrier you want to ship with, print your documents, schedule a pickup, and track the packages all from your account- we made it easy so you can focus on what matters.

3. Reuse packaging materials

Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, boxes…it adds up fast.

If you’re like many other businesses you probably have just as many packages coming in as you have going out. And if the incoming packaging materials are going in the trash you’re spending more than you need to be.

For small businesses that ship a variety of different sized packages, it may make sense to re-use boxes. Many eBay sellers, for example, would benefit from this. However, if you are building a company or brand image you’ll want to remain consistent with your packaging.

Just about every small business that ships items daily can benefit from reusing bubble wrap and packing peanuts though.

4. Schedule Pickups

Many carriers offer free or low-cost pickup options. It usually makes sense to take advantage of free pickups, although pay attention to the cut-off times so your delivery isn’t delayed an extra day.

For low-cost pickup options consider the price, how close you are to a drop-off location, and how much time it would take you to drop off your packages when considering if this a good option for you.

5. Purchase a Thermal Printer

Another expense associated with shipping costs is the labels and ink you’re using to print shipping labels. If you’re using an inkjet or laser printer you’re likely spending more than you need to be.

Instead, consider purchasing a thermal printer. Thermal printers print directly onto adhesive labels, and best of all they don’t use ink! They also print very fast, usually about one second per label, and look more professional than labels printed with ink.


No matter if your small business is shipping 10 or 1,000 packages a day, applying these 5 tips will help you ship smarter and reduce your expenses. If you want to improve your shipping process even further check out our service, Secureship.

Snapshot of rate comparison

Compare shipping costs from multiple carriers, schedule pickups, get alerts, and view invoices all from one place. We make it easy so you can focus your energy on other things! You also get access to the Secureship group buying power saving you up to 50% off the list shipping price. Don’t believe us? See for yourself by getting yourself a shipping quote.

About the author: Dan Allard

About the author

Dan Allard is a marketing specialist, guitar player, and father living in The Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In his free time he’s usually reading business and marketing blogs, watching Shark Tank, or pretending he’s Iron Man because he has an Amazon Echo. He also enjoys finding great deals online and finding ways to reduce shipping costs.
About Secureship

About Secureship

Secureship® offers an online service that helps businesses and organizations ship more efficiently and affordably.

Providing instant price shopping across multiple carriers, Secureship is the best choice for reduced rate shipping. In addition, Secureship offers benefits such as a consolidated shipping system regardless of the carrier you choose, built-in address book, convenient invoicing and shipment management.

Visit our shipping estimate tool to see how much you can reduce your shipping expenses.