For business owners everywhere, shipping products can be a hassle. Not only does it require a great deal of time and organization, but it also can be expensive, particularly if a lot of customers reside overseas.
Whether you’re running a small eCommerce business or a major shipping operation, it’s essential that you get the best price on international shipping to reduce your overhead expenses and bring in more money. You need to consider how you’re shipping your products, as some require hazmat shipping while others can simply be put in the mail through flat rate shipping. Check out some of these ways to cut back on shipping costs if you’ve been doing a lot of international business.
Do Your Research
Be thorough when trying to decide on a new international carrier and inquire about additional fees as well as insurance policies. It’s important to research and compare overall rates based on the kind of packages you’ll be shipping most often. You can even reach out to other companies of a similar size and business to see who their carrier is. Of course, you don’t want to reach out to a direct competitor, but other businesses are usually happy to help other entrepreneurs, and you may be able to return the favor.
UPS and FedEx are two of the top international shipping carriers because they have the resources to carry large amounts of packaging around the globe in a timely fashion, so most business owners look to these two outlets first. The USPS offers international shipping, though not on quite as large of a scale. You can always look into foreign package carriers as well, but you may find additional fees tacked on because you are using a foreign service. Do your research and find which company offers the best price and quickest shipping for your business.
Stick with the Same Company
Once you’ve found a carrier you’re happy with, it’s important to stick with the same company. If you’re constantly switching carriers, you’ll likely experience issues with shipping delays and varying rates across the same products. This is why the research step is so vital because you’ll be able to find a company that can handle your volume and give you a great price. As you start working with a new company, you can develop a stronger relationship, making it easier to communicate with your carrier about issues or questions.
You also want to use a company that treats you as more of a partner or a client than simply a way to make money. Package carriers naturally want to partner with people who are going to ship often because it will boost their revenue, but you want to work with a company that provides quality customer service and understands the needs of your business.
Value Your Products Accurately
When you ship items, you’re asked a series of questions about the monetary value of your packages and the content inside to ensure you’re not shipping hazardous material.
If you are in the business of moving products that can be considered dangerous—for example, perfume is a hazardous item when shipped in large quantities because of its potential to catch fire and cause an explosion—you need to invest in the proper packaging storage, such as plastic drums or hazmat shipping materials. Your carrier will want to know about these products to properly ship them to their destination.
If you decide to undervalue your products, you can face the consequences, which include fines and potentially being barred from using that service again in the future. If you’re insuring your products, undervaluing them can also cause problems if the packages become damaged or lost along the way.
Use Eco-Friendly Packaging
Although eco-friendly packaging may not save you money on the cost of shipping the item, it can save money on the packaging itself. If your shipping costs are higher than you were hoping, you need to look at other aspects of the business where you can cut costs and make your international shipping policy worthwhile. You don’t want to offer international shipping on products that are costing you more to ship than the amount you’re making from these products.
Invest in recycled shipping boxes and biodegradable styrofoam padding to lower costs, reduce your carbon footprint and show customers that your company is environmentally conscious. Before shipping any products, you also need to be aware of any restrictions on shipping and purchase materials, like hazmat shipping packages, to meet any carrier requirements.
Pack Items Together When Possible
An obvious way to reduce international shipping costs is by sending several different items together. If you’re a B2C business and your customers often order more than one item at once, you can consolidate packages for a lower rate.
For B2B businesses or supplier companies that sell parts to other manufacturing companies, you may want to find the most efficient way to get your products to their destination in as few packages as possible. From there, you may need to ship items—again, domestically—to specific addresses, but it should be significantly cheaper to send items within the same country. Calculate to determine which route would make the most sense for your wallet.
Work with a Logistics Company
For any business moving a large quantity of products on a regular basis, working with a logistics company will greatly improve your rates and shipping times. Logistics companies essentially act as brokers between companies and transportation companies, such as airline carriers, truck companies and cargo ship providers.
You can work with your freight broker to find a transportation rate that makes sense for your business without having to do as much of the research on your own. Logistic companies will then take charge of much of the shipping process, removing some of the burden for you and allowing the best price possible.
International shipping can get pricey quickly, which is why it’s so important to do your research and find a company you can afford. If you’re shipping a lot of products frequently, logistics companies can help with finding prices and moving products. Try to cut costs whenever possible on shipping materials and develop a strong relationship with your carrier to make your shipping process run more smoothly.