At one stage or another, every business that sells physical products needs to master shipping and handling. This includes the inventory management, warehousing, pricing, and picking and packing of physical goods.
Getting customers’ purchases to them on time and in great condition should be a priority, whether you’re just starting an eCommerce business or have been doing it for years. If your business sells large items, shipping becomes more complex.
Learning how to measure a box for shipping is essential, especially for custom subscription boxes or large items. How do you get bulky products to customers without slowing down your warehouse or losing money?
We researched how to ship large items with the best strategies that you can implement immediately.
Let’s break down individual components of how to ship large items, including average cost, eBay shipping, sending furniture, and best practices for packing.
How To Ship Large Items Cheap
Shipping large products can be intimidating. The items need packaging that will protect the products, customers still expect fast service, and you need a shipping company that you can trust.
On top of these factors, you want to make sure shipping costs aren’t so high that your profit margin disappears. Here are some tips on how to ship large items cheaply:
- Set a budget. This is a basic step, but a necessary one. Your business needs some kind of spreadsheet or written plan that details expected shipping cost per product sold. This is straightforward, as carriers list most shipping costs per unit on their websites. If there’s no room to make money after subtracting shipping costs from sales, you need to cut costs somewhere or increase prices. Also look for ways to reduce costs by bulk ordering or reducing your purchase orders to minimum order quantities (MOQ). This decreases your expenses and makes warehouse organization much easier.
- Choose a shipping service that matches your needs. Every shipping company treats large packages a little differently. Take the time to review a couple shipping services and their main offerings so you can compare rates. Look for inexpensive options that provide the service you need with as little extra cost as possible.
- Look for bulk shipping discounts. Whether you sell via BlueCart eCommerce, your own eCommerce website builder, or an online marketplace, you likely have a lot of goods to ship. If your business is growing quickly, you should be working with a shipping company that can match your rate of expansion. Don’t be shy about looking for the lowest prices available. After all, those are savings you can pass to your customers.
- Ask for a company’s best rates. You’d be surprised by how often a business will give you a lower rate simply because you ask. You may not always get the discount or price you’re hoping for, but some companies are willing to drop the cost if it means you’ll become a customer. Use your best judgment with this technique, because you don’t want to come across as pushy or stingy.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship Large Items?
The average base cost of shipping a large item is $90. That being said, it’s impossible to predict how much it costs to ship any item, because the dimensions, weight, shipping speed, and value of products differ. A set of patio chairs and a dresser drawer are both large items, but their final shipping costs are unlikely to be identical.
Price variance between eCommerce shipping companies is another major factor in shipping cost differences. For example, USPS limits standard package weights to 70 pounds or less, but UPS imposes a minimum billable weight of 90 pounds for large shipments. It’s also common for carriers and 3PL companies to place significant charges on packages over certain weights.
The average large shipment cost of $90 is generally applied to packages that are up to 108 inches (9 feet) or longer. Your final shipping expense may be more than $90, especially if the combined length and width of your package is greater than 130 inches (a little less than 11 feet). Consult your preferred eCommerce shipping service for final costs, and remember that taxes and fees usually apply.
How To Ship Large Furniture Items
Shipping furniture is not an easy task largely because of weight and dimensions. Whether you sell ready-to-assemble furniture or pre-made products, customers expect them to arrive at their homes in excellent condition.
Getting products packed and shipped efficiently is easier than it appears if you have the right strategies in place. Here’s how to ship large furniture items:
- Write down exact measurements and weights. It’s difficult to ship large furniture items if you don’t have your products' weights and dimensions. Pull product specifics from your warehouse management system or, if you haven’t already, conduct a manual review of product weight and dimensions. This allows you to match products to boxes and save costs where you can.
- Organize your boxes and packaging materials. Speaking of cost savings, your packing materials should not be left up to chance. A large table (or the parts of it) can’t be shipped the same way as a small chair. Make a list of the boxes and shipping materials your inventory needs. The more compact a box can be, the lower the risk of damage is.
- Perfect your warehouse processes. Furniture takes up a lot of space. It’s labor-intensive to inventory, shelve, and retrieve. Work with your warehouse manager and staff to optimize how sold furniture is put into boxes and staged for shipping. The smoother your operations are before it leaves your warehouse, the faster and easier it will get to your customers.
- Research shipping services that specialize in heavy items. Most shipping businesses offer some kind of heavy item shipping, but that doesn’t mean every service focuses on it. Look for a shipping company that has sizable trucks, experienced handlers, or specializes in the shipment of items like furniture. This will give you peace of mind and keep your return rate low.
- Use bulk shipping whenever possible. Speak with your preferred service about any order frequency discounts and see who gives you the most competitive rates. Many shipping services know they're getting significant revenue from your oversized packages, so they should be happy to make you a deal.
How To Ship Large Items On eBay
eBay remains one of the most popular auction and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sites in the world. Millions of people use it every month to sell furniture, home goods, gardening equipment, outdoor supplies, and hundreds of other items.
If you use eBay as well, it’s important to be familiar with their shipping process. Here is how to ship large items on eBay:
- Research shipping estimates ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than making a sale, only to find out that your shipping costs will cut into your profit. Take a few minutes to research what similar products ship for so you know how much to charge your customers. Some eBay sellers charge shipping separate from the product; others add the shipping cost to the product’s price. Both can work, but most of the time, adding shipping cost to the sale price won’t receive as much psychological resistance.
- Have relevant packaging on hand. No matter what kind of large item you’re shipping through eBay, the materials it’s sent in should provide safe delivery. If you’re selling home goods or decorations, you can never have too much bubble wrap and packing paper. For lengthy items, find a box supplier who has what you need. Commit time to researching packaging that will make a difference for your products, which keeps your sell through rate high, too.
- Understand your customers’ needs. Do you sell a type of product that buyers expect to be thoroughly packaged? Are you shipping an extremely valuable, expensive, or fragile product? Customers will expect your handling of their purchase to match the value of the product. Think about how you’d want the same product cared for, and give your buyers that experience. Your shoppers will be happy to give you strong reviews as a result.
If you need help with how to print labels for large items on eBay too, follow the steps we’ve compiled below:
- Retrieve order and label details. Once you've navigated to eBay in your web browser, log into your account. Click on “My eBay” and navigate to the “Sold” section. Look for the product you want to ship and click on “Print Shipping Label” next to that product. This will take you to the printing details page.
- Select your shipping carrier. eBay offers shipping from the “big three” shipping services--USPS, FedEx, and UPS. Select the shipping provider you want to use.
- Enter your product details. Here you’ll be able to finalize your product’s shipping details, like dimensions and weight. If your product’s volumetric specifications exceed the shipping option you selected, you’ll receive an on-screen notification. Continue working through shipping options until you find a service that matches the product’s needs.
- Select any optional services. You’ll have the option of choosing additional services, like signature upon delivery, package insurance, and faster shipping speeds. Choose any that apply (or that your buyer requested) and continue to the next step.
- Choose the shipping date. After shipping services are finalized, select the date the package will ship out. Proceed to the next step when this is done.
- Complete payment. eBay offers several payment gateway providers with which to purchase labels, including PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Select the eCommerce payment method you’ll be using and complete your transaction.
- Print your label. After payment, eBay will automatically generate the shipping label. You can use a thermal shipping label printer to quickly and easily print labels, especially if you do this all day in a warehouse.
How To Pack Large Items For Shipping
Getting large objects like desks and chairs into boxes is hard enough. Add unique packaging needs and safe delivery, and you have a more demanding project on your hands.
Customers who buy large products expect them to arrive in the same condition that small products would come in. Your warehouse management process flow should account for big products so they have the protection they need during and after transportation.
Here are five essentials of how to pack large items for shipping:
- Determine your budget. Larger products means you’re going to spend more money on packing materials. Refer to your ERP system or financial data to see how much you’re currently spending on packaging. Look for ways to reduce costs by bulk ordering or reducing your purchase orders to minimum order quantities (MOQ). This decreases your expenses and makes warehouse organization much easier.
- Use appropriate packaging materials. Everyone knows large and heavy goods are notorious for shipping liabilities. As such, you should have the right kinds of eCommerce packaging on hand so products and parts don’t get banged up. Shipping desks, drawers, and tables? You’ll probably need foam sheets and cardboard. Sending round items or products that come in one piece? Consider packing peanuts, air pillows, or custom boxes. Aim to go eco-friendly when possible but remember that successful delivery keeps you profitable.
- Get training specific to the items you sell. Items like pianos, expensive home decorations, and art all require specific packing techniques. Don’t assume that you know what an item needs; instead, get the appropriate training from an industry expert. Your newfound knowledge protects your reputation as a seller, business profits, and ensures customers are thrilled with their purchases.
- Offer optional insurance for your buyers. If there’s one thing that gives some buyers that much-craved peace of mind, it’s optional shipping insurance. This ensures that even if an accident takes place en route to the buyer’s address, the value of their purchase will be reimbursed. It also demonstrates to customers that you take their interests seriously.
Remember to research the best rates for your business. Your pricing model should already generate profit above your expenses, but that doesn’t mean you should pay more than you need to.
Want competitive shipping rates today? Look no further than BlueCart’s built-in shipping features. Our tools aggregate the buying power of our customers to negotiate the best possible rates from 60+ shipping companies.
Store It, Sell It, Ship It
Shipping large items sounds easy on the surface, but actually requires quite a bit of forethought. You need the right materials, a sound packing strategy, and experienced shipping services to ensure your work is a success.
By using these packing and shipping strategies, you’ll minimize busywork for your business and maximize profit. As long as you put your customers’ needs first, you’ll be in marvelous shape.