Launching an eCommerce business is a blast, but it also comes with responsibilities and challenges. One such responsibility is shipping goods to customers, and doing so quickly and inexpensively.
The experience you may have from shipping personal goods can be applied to much of business shipping. However, as your venture expands, you’ll need to be increasingly familiar with best practices for commercial shipping.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything from how to calculate package costs and find the right box size to specific packaging needs of various products. Keep reading for the details and other useful shipping strategies.
Shipping and Handling: How-To Guide
Shipping and handling is the process of packaging physical goods in containers or boxes and providing them to shipping services to deliver to customers. This includes picking goods from warehouse shelves and packing them, printing labels, staging boxes for shipping, and understanding shipping laws.
What Are Shipping and Handling Fees?
Shipping and handling fees are expenses incurred by companies for picking, packing, and delivering a product. Each stage of the supply chain incurs a cost, and carriers profit by moving products from a seller to a buyer.
Is Shipping and Handling Taxable?
In most cases, yes, taxes apply to shipping and handling fees. Most shipping services are commercial, meaning the government can collect tax revenue on them. In many instances, a sold product being taxed will mean the associated shipping and handling fees also incur a tax.
How Much to Charge for Shipping and Handling
Standardizing shipping costs when launching a new business can be confusing and time-consuming. While your expenses will differ as your business grows, it’s good to understand what you’re going into from the get-go. There are numerous approaches for determining shipping fees based on your given business model:
- Free shipping. This method works well for large or expensive products because carriers often provide lower rates for companies that do more business with them. Business volume may be calculated by weight, shipped units, or another factor.
- Flat rate shipping. Flat rate shipping simplifies your work because every package is the same cost. This model works well for businesses that sell small products or kits.
- Price-based shipping. Depending on what a business sells, shipping fees may decrease with a higher basket size, or be eliminated altogether once a purchase amount is reached. This method can incentivize customers who originally just wanted one product, but now see a reason to get a second or third.
- Real-time shipping costs. This shipping approach works well for products with seasonal demand and high variability. Because more people may be shopping for a given product during a limited time frame, this can drive shipping costs up. Real-time cost calculations prevent business owners’ expenses from eating into their profits.
- Weight-based shipping. Weight-based shipping works well if you sell products based on weight and not contents or package dimensions. Determining shipping costs by weight tends to be more common with large and bulky products.
Putting together a basic shipping approach is a great start, but you need to be prepared for the details too. Package shipping costs can vary extensively based on contents, destination, and more. Next, we’ll look at typical costs for common package contents.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Package?
Shipping is a topic that’s hard to miss if you’re starting a physical products business. To get shipping down pat, you need realistic expectations of package shipping costs.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Package UPS?
The cost to ship a package via UPS depends on multiple factors, including the item’s dimensions, weight, and final destination.
UPS offers multiple flat rate shipping options for eCommerce packaging of various sizes. These flat rates apply to package sizes from one square inch up to 1,728 square inches.
If you sell goods like t-shirts, books, or products of similar shape and size, you can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $12 for shipping. If your items are shoebox-sized or larger, you may pay between $14 to $23 for shipping, or more.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Package USPS?
USPS package shipping costs depend on the individual service chosen, whether the package is private or commercial, and the anticipated delivery time.
Priority Mail Express is USPS’s flagship service, offering a next-day to 2-day guarantee by 6 p.m. local time delivery. Their commercial rates start at $22.75 per package and have $100 of product insurance included. Regular Priority Mail starts at $7.16 commercially, is delivered in one to three business days, and includes $50 of product insurance.
First-Class Package mail starts at $3.01 for commercial shipments. Media Mail rates start at $1.76 per package and are delivered within two to eight business days. Finally, there is USPS Retail Ground, starting at $7.70 per package.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship a Package FedEx?
FedEx’s package shipping costs depend on the package’s dimensions, the shipping service, shipping speed, and the item’s destination. If you’re shipping a file or packets of paper, flat rate envelopes run as low as $8.90 per item. Small boxes (enough space to fit a large book or several magazines) start at about $10.
Medium to large boxes range from $13 to $20 per item, with extra-large boxes starting at $32.35. You can ship lengthy items like posters, golf clubs, and canes for the same amount. FedEx also provides convenient cost reference grids that simplify estimating how much your package will cost to ship.
Shipping Costs By Weight
Shipping costs vary widely based on package destination, current market rates, the weight of an item, and seasonal demand. Before paying for postage or printing labels, be sure to double-check that your package’s information is correct:
- Package dimensions
- Shipping date (also called drop-off date)
- Package weight
- Shipping service (regular, express, overnight, expedited shipping, etc.)
- Delivery add-ons (signature upon delivery, insurance, temperature-controlled packaging, etc.)
Once you’ve input the above information in a shipping cost calculator, you’ll get a reliable estimate. Keep track of what you tend to pay for certain products; it’s useful for accounting purposes.
When you have shipping basics down, it’s easier to navigate all the options available in today’s eCommerce landscape. Next is learning how to calculate postage with specific providers, like UPS and eBay.
How to Calculate Shipping Costs
Learning how to sell products online is full of financial opportunities and creative rewards. You can put your own spin on products like coffee or cookies, win customers, and build a recognizable brand that people love.
Whether you sell consumables like food or heavier goods like electronics, keeping your shipping costs under control is crucial. Here are some popular ways to calculate shipping expenses.
How to Calculate Shipping Costs USPS
Follow the below steps to determine your USPS shipping cost:
- Using your web browser, navigate to the USPS website.
- Hover over “Quick Tools” and click on “Calculate a Price.”
- Enter some basic information about your package’s destination and the date you’re shipping the item.
- Select a USPS shipping material from the options provided.
- Continue following the prompts until you have received a shipping estimate or are ready to pay and print your label.
How to Calculate UPS Shipping Cost
Follow the steps below to determine UPS shipping expenses:
- In your web browser, navigate to the UPS website.
- Click on “Shipping” in the upper left-hand menu.
- Select “Calculate Time and Cost” from the drop-down menu that appears.
- Add basic info about your package’s origin, destination, and shipping date.
- View the shipping services in the grid on the right-hand side of the webpage.
- Click on the “Ship Now” button next to your desired shipping service.
- Review the shipping information generated by the cost estimator, and print your label once ready.
How to Calculate FedEx Shipping Cost
FedEx shipping expenses can be found by completing the steps below:
- While using your web browser, navigate to FedEx’s website.
- Click on the “Rate and Ship” icon on the homepage.
- Enter the origin and destination addresses of your package, respectively.
- Fill out the fields that pop up, including package type, weight, dimensions, and shipping date.
- Click on the “Show Rates” button.
- Review the delivery date and cost options provided by the calculator.
If you’d prefer to use a centralized software for calculating costs and printing labels, there are several options available. In the next section, we’ll cover how to choose eCommerce shipping software, as well as a shipping alternative called dropshipping.
eCommerce Shipping: Solutions and Software
While there is no one best shipping software for eCommerce businesses, the best have a few things in common.
Look for these features:
- Manageable costs. Most shipping software offer pricing tiers based on the number of products shipped each month. Find one that matches your company's size and won't eat up your profits. Some also have discounted rates through certain fulfillment companies, so keep an eye out if there's a particular company you want to ship with.
- Built-in reporting. Knowing how much you ship, how quickly, and when are vital parts of inventory management. Stick with software that has these eCommerce analytics reports built in. Otherwise, your staff will spend valuable time tracking this information themselves, and your inventory control manager will not be happy.
- Easy integration. Your business likely has multiple types of software and platforms. If they don't communicate with each other, you're adding extra work for everyone. Stick with shipping software or B2B eCommerce platforms that can automatically send and receive data to increase eCommerce sales. Luckily for food suppliers, BlueCart eCommerce can easily be integrated with most shipping solutions. It even comes with Shippo integration right out of the box.
eCommerce dropshipping is a business model where you sell items from your supplier to your consumer without stocking them yourself. This model allows small businesses to operate without having to cover high warehouse expenses.
Dropshipping is a growing industry with more suppliers and third-party companies available to pick from each year. You can often find dropshipping companies in a wholesale directory, though these are mainly used for people to know how to find vendors. Dropshipping profits were over $4 billion last year and increasing quickly. If you don't have space, or are looking to turn your eCommerce business ideas into revenue as quickly as possible, this is a good option.
If shipping software by itself doesn’t cut it for your business needs, have no fear. You can still work with a dedicated eCommerce shipping company, especially if your revenue is growing fast.
Keep reading for info on how to pick a shipping company and our recommendations on leading shipping businesses.
eCommerce Shipping Companies
Valuable shipping partners offer speedy turnarounds, excellent customer service, and clear communication. Picking the wrong partner could mean multiple returns, frequent delays, or not getting your order at all.
What to Look For in a Shipping Company
It’s simpler to decide on a shipping company when you know what to look for. Here are the features and benefits your shipping partner should provide:
- Fast response times. Responding quickly is a top requirement of partners. If your shipping partner takes longer than a day or two to respond, it’s a sign of trouble.
- Simple shipping choices. Your 3PL company or shipping partner should have clear-cut options that are plug-and-play as soon as you become a paying customer. This frees you up to focus on more important tasks, like branding, sales, and marketing.
- Integration compatibility. Can your shipping partner’s software integrate with your in-house systems? If this isn’t the case, it needs to be addressed right away. Make sure you feel entirely comfortable using their program and that all your questions are answered before onboarding.
- Affordable rates. You should choose a shipping company with fees proportional to the current revenue of your business. If funds are truly tight, ask the company to share their best rate with you, then make your decision.
- Optional add-ons. Does your business need occasional packing and handling help or discounted rates for seasonal surges? Top-level shipping companies’ value-added services can make significant differences for your business.
- Scalability. Last but never least, your shipping partner should be flexible for upward mobility in your business. It’s far easier to stick with the same company and integrations through increased sales than to jump ship (pun intended). Conduct an inventory forecasting analysis to see where your business is headed and go with a shipping company that can match your needs.
Best Shipping Company for eCommerce
As an eCommerce business owner, you don’t need us to tell you the importance of customer satisfaction through order fulfillment. You need a shipping service that understands the importance of their role and delivers maximum value for the cost you pay each month.
Here are some of the best shipping companies for eCommerce businesses:
- Shippo (BlueCart partner)
- UPS (United Parcel Service)
- DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn)
Once you’ve settled on a shipping company, the nitty-gritty comes into play. If you haven’t measured a box before, it’s time to learn this essential shipping knowledge. The next section covers common box sizes and how to measure any box size you may need to use.
How to Measure a Box For Shipping
Before you rush off to buy any box that looks like the right fit, it’s helpful to know what common box sizes are.
Here are some of the most commonly used box sizes and product examples that can be shipped in them:
- 17” x 12 ⅜” x 12 ⅜”: books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, media items, small electronics
- 18” x 16” x 18”: towels, lamps/lampshades, home decorations
- 18” x 18” x 24”: kitchen appliances, pillows, pool and outdoor equipment
- 24” x 20” x 24”: drapes and collapsed curtain rods, larger appliances, sports gear
The Measuring Tools and Knowledge You Need
Measuring any box size is also straightforward when you have the right equipment and simple strategies on hand. Here are the tools that make box measuring easy:
- Ruler. Use this to measure the height, length, and width of your box on the inside.
- Tape measure. A tape measure is handy for larger boxes or if you don’t have a ruler on hand.
- Pen or pencil. Marking lines at the height and width of your product helps you visualize how much room you’ll have for padding, like air bags and packing peanuts.
- Painter’s tape (or similar light adhesion tape). If you’re test-packing a product for the first time, closing the box with painter’s tape is an inexpensive way of seeing if the box will accommodate it.
Common eCommerce Packaging and Product Examples
The packaging you use depends on your products and their transportation requirements. Here’s a list of common eCommerce packaging options and products that are well-suited for them:
- Single-wall cardboard boxes
- Recreational goods
- Double-wall cardboard boxes
- Glassware, ceramics, fragile items
- Kitchen appliances
- Overboxes (styrofoam case or cardboard inside of a box)
- Frozen, chilled, or perishable food
- Dry food items (nuts, dried fruit, powders, etc.)
- Tyvek envelopes or plastic bag mailers
- T-shirts, wristbands, hoodies, bandanas, other types of clothing and accessories
- Malleable or soft items
- Padded/custom mailers
- Mugs and cups
- Padded envelopes
- Small electronics
- Souvenirs, trinkets, gift shop items
Becoming familiar with box measuring best practices, box sizes, and packaging materials makes it easier to ship anything. Not all products are made equal though, which is why it’s good to know how to ship food.
In the next section, we’ll look at the intricacies of food shipping and how you can do it easily.
How To Ship Food
Shipping food of any kind should be treated mindfully and with plenty of preparation. If you’re shipping perishable foods like bread, dairy products, or produce, you must know how to mitigate the risk of spoilage.
Selling baked goods from home also depends on getting your products to customers before they turn bad. Here’s how to ship perishable food:
- Understand your product’s needs. Every product is different, and shipping conditions for one kind of food may be unnecessary for another. If you sell produce, include air pillows or bubble wrap. These materials can be densely packed without placing undue pressure on the food, keeping it safe from harm in transit.
- Seal it in an airtight bag. Any food product that’s perishable should be protected from light, air, and moisture. If you haven’t already, add airtight sealing to your warehouse management process flow. This ensures your perishable food products are prepared for shipping the moment they reach the packing table.
- Use an appropriately sized container. Relevant package sizing is easier to work with because you don’t use much padding. Also, less empty space in a package means the likelihood of food spoilage is much lower.
- Send products out quickly. If there’s one element of shipping to get right, it’s sending packages out as quickly as possible. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate precautions like temperature protection and padding, but it does mean your warehousing processes should be efficient.
Getting food to your customers in a timely fashion is no laughing matter. Make it easy on yourself with our own built-in shipping features. BlueCart’s own shipping tools aggregate the buying power of all our customers to acquire optimal rates from 60+ shipping companies.
Track shipments, calculate shipping costs by weight, print labels with a thermal shipping label printer, and more. Book a demo now to see what BlueCart can do for you.
Mastering the science of food shipping is something to be proud of. You gain peace of mind knowing that your products will arrive safely and customers will be excited.
Learning how to ship cookies without loss or breakage is the next level of food shipping mastery. Check out our strategies on how to accomplish this below.
How To Ship Cookies
Mastering how to ship cookies is both an art and a science. How you package a cookie depends on the type of cookie, as well.
Some of the most popular cookies are decorated cookies. Because of the intricate icing work involved, decorated cookies require a special approach.
Here is how to ship decorated cookies successfully:
- Allow them plenty of time to dry and cool. If you don’t allow the icing enough time to sit, you risk all of it getting smudged once the cookie is packaged up. Give your masterful creations at least 1-2 hours to sit and dry.
- Wrap them individually. It’s difficult to ensure a decorated cookie keeps its image if it’s sitting next to another. This is why you should have cellophane sleeves for each decorated cookie.
- Pack them with extra care. Cookies of this kind are a little trickier to pack. Oftentimes they’re made in non-standard shapes, like the shape of a head or body. In some cases, placing your cookies side-by-side and surrounding them with bubble wrap is the perfect solution. This ensures one cookie’s icing doesn’t get smashed into itself by the weight of additional cookies on top of it.
- Include extra space in the box or package. In the case of decorated cookies, it’s actually best to leave a little room in the box. This technique allows just enough airflow to prevent icing from warming up and getting smudged.
How To Ship Cookies Without Breaking
Because of their ingredients and how they’re made, cookies can easily go bad if they aren’t packaged well. From softer, thicker cookies to thin, crispy ones, no one likes discovering that their treats broke down mid-transit.
Perfecting the science of shipping cookies without breaking takes some time and effort, but it can be done. Here’s how to master it:
- Consider the cookie type. Unfortunately, just because a cookie is delicious doesn't mean it was made for shipping. Cookies that are thin and dry tend to crumble more easily; avoid sending them in packages if you can help it.
- Wrap them carefully. Whether you’re selling one cookie or 12, each cookie should be individually wrapped. Food-grade shrink wrap or individual sleeves are usually all you need for this.
- Add extra padding to the package. After shrink-wrapping them, you can further wrap them in bubble wrap or packing paper. Stack your cookies with the largest on bottom and smallest on top.
- Put a sticker on the box. Placing a sticker that says, “Fragile: Handle with Care”, “This Side Up”, or a similar phrase works wonders. Instead of treating your packages the same as others, eCommerce shipping companies will be more prone to notice this and handle it accordingly.
- Ship in small quantities. The more cookies are packed into a box, the heavier the box becomes. This makes the cookies prone to breaking, even if there’s already lots of padding in the box. Try to ship in quantities of no more than 24, especially if you have limited box sizes.
Putting the final touches on your cookie shipping method is a great feeling. You can mail cookies with the confidence that they’ll arrive just as delicious as they were coming out of the oven.
What if you sell more than cookies or dry food in your business? Is it possible to ship frozen food without spoilage? The answer is yes, and it may be easier than you think. Keep reading for tips on how to ship frozen food successfully.
How To Ship Frozen Food
Since the contents, dimensions, and weight of each package differs, you won’t know exact costs of shipping frozen food ahead of time. That said, the average cost of shipping frozen food ranges anywhere from $30 to $150.
Let’s look at how to ship frozen food inexpensively and effectively:
- Find a carrier that specializes in cold freight. Cold freight carriers have trucks with air conditioning and train their employees to monitor the status of items throughout the delivery process. Using a carrier like this is the difference between your products risking spoilage and arriving in mint condition.
- Always use some kind of insulated container. Quality insulated containers are the key to sending frozen food safely. Start with a box or bag respective to the size of your product(s). Next, add some insulated padding like air pillows or aluminum box liners. Continue adding until your product is cushioned on all sides, thus minimizing cold temperature losses.
- Use dry ice. Since dry ice remains solid for a long period of time, it helps items stay cool much longer. Companies who sell dry ice are well-accustomed to food businesses requesting it, so it’s easy to find if you plan to incorporate it into your operations.
- Look for the best rates. Ask your carrier about any bulk shipping rates they have or first-time customer discounts. Also, reduce your overall time spent on shipping by designating one or two times for carrier pickup.
- Buy packaging materials in bulk. Save money and perfect your warehouse organization by getting packaging materials in bulk. This way you can shelve hundreds of packaging units at a time and retrieve them quickly.
- Optimize your packaging for each product. Take a look at your inventory and ask yourself if you’re optimizing product packaging. The boxes you use should be just large enough to fit the product plus some padding, but no more.
- Ship in bulk whenever possible. You can also consider a separate refrigerated room that boxes can sit in before the pickup time arrives. Test these methodologies and see what works for your business.
Understanding the requirements of mailing frozen food makes your warehousing and shipping work much easier. Instead of hoping products will arrive intact, you can move on to other business tasks like growing your customer base.
However, frozen food isn’t the only demanding type of item to ship. Alcoholic beverages are not only temperature-sensitive, they are subject to increasingly stringent laws. To make your beverage shipping responsibilities easier to understand, we compiled alcohol shipping strategies below.
How To Ship Alcohol
Due to bottle shock in wine, alcohol requires a more advanced packaging approach than other products. You want to prevent oxidized wine at all costs, especially when sending wine long distances. Here is how to pack alcohol for shipping, whether you’re sending one bottle of wine or a case of beer:
- Use heavy-duty eCommerce packaging. In most cases, you need an insulated packaging layer with heavy-duty cardboard on the outside. You can use boxes that have styrofoam cases inside or insert a polystyrene container into a double-walled box.
- Wrap each bottle or case securely. Whether you’re sending a six-pack of beer from an online marketplace or one specialty wine bottle, your packaging needs to prevent breakage. Use foam sheets, packing paper, or styrofoam layers to nestle beverages in the box.
- Have bubble wrap on hand. Bubble wrap is optional depending on the type of product you’re shipping, but it never hurts to have it ready. It’s useful for padding the sides of boxes, wrapping beer cans, and taping to a case of wine or liquor. Make sure the bubble wrap doesn’t prevent the box from being closed.
- Double tape the bottom and top of your box. It’s important to firmly seal boxes with alcoholic containers because of the weight and contents. Double taping box flaps is the easiest way to do this. If this isn’t already included in picking and packing for your warehouse management process flow, add this step today.
- Affix labels to the tops of boxes. It may be tempting to put shipping labels on the sides of boxes, but you should always put them on top. This way, even if your box gets shuffled around or tipped on its side, delivery drivers will still know which way is up.
- Avoid extreme temperatures whenever possible. In some cases, you can’t avoid shipping in the middle of winter or the peak of summer. Whenever you’re able, shipping packages in milder weather is safer. It mitigates the likelihood any container will freeze or burst open.
If it’s your first time standardizing a packaging process for alcoholic beverages, write down your version of the steps above. Then print it out, laminate it, and give it to your warehousing staff. This will save time and effort, especially during busy seasons.
Shipping companies only carry alcoholic beverages from licensed commercial entities. This means you must be a government-approved business that manufactures, distributes, or retails alcohol for a company to ship it.
Shipping services often ask businesses to sign a shipment contract with them. You may be asked to adhere to additional regulations depending on what state you’re shipping to, as state alcohol laws vary.
As your business grows and you receive feedback from customers, pay particular attention to customer complaints. Though they’re hard to receive, changing your shipping practices based on customer needs puts you ahead of the competition.
This is even more important if you’re shipping fragile alcohol containers, such as wine bottles. Depending on what state you run your business in, wine may be subject to limitations that other alcoholic beverages are not.
Learn all the ins and outs of wine shipping in the section below.
How to Ship Wine
Individual bottles are weighty, fragile, and temperature-sensitive, so they have to be handled properly to prevent bottle shock in wine. Here are proven tips on how to package wine for shipping and handling.
Review Your Licensure
As an online wine business, at the bare minimum, you need an eCommerce business license and a shipping license. The former demonstrates that you’re a lawful business. The latter shows that you have the permission to send alcoholic beverages to customers outside of a retail environment.
Complete Any Pre-Approval Processes
Major eCommerce shipping companies like FedEx and UPS require wine sellers to be pre-approved before you can ship it. These requirements exist to protect the companies and their customers from legal trouble. It also helps shipping companies track who is shipping spirits, and to whom.
Use Packaging Best Practices
If they aren’t firmly sealed in a box, wine bottles are at risk of breaking the box open, getting cracked, and leaking. You can use polystyrene foam, molded fiber inserts, or any firm, supportive material that doesn’t take up much space.
How To Ship Wine Bottles FedEx
If you’ve settled on FedEx as your shipping service for alcoholic drinks, they’re a great choice. There are some principles to be aware of when learning how to ship wine bottles FedEx.
Take a look below:
- Complete the pre-approval process. FedEx requires businesses that are shipping alcohol to be approved in their system. You can accomplish this by going to their Alcohol Requirements page and completing the steps listed there.
- Use pre-molded fiber trays or polystyrene containers. FedEx is fairly picky about what materials work for wine bottle shipping, and for good reason. Polystyrene and fiber trays or inserts are lightweight, yet durable and firm. Find a reliable vendor for this kind of packaging so you have a steady supply.
- Avoid packing peanuts, wadded paper, and air pillows. FedEx includes these on their list of materials that don’t work well for shipping heavy, fragile items like wine bottles. Unless there are firm, relatively lightweight packaging materials inside, your bottles are at risk of moving and breaking.
- Double seal your box and put the label on top. Making sure your drinks reach customers safely is key, so all of your boxes should be double sealed. Two to three bottles of wine can weigh about 10 pounds; without a secure box, even these can break open. Remember to put your label on top so drivers know which way is up.
Wine shipping is far simpler after your pre-approval is complete and you have all the packaging materials you need. Customers will learn that they can depend on you for quality shipments, which drives trust in your brand.
If you prefer selling beer over wine, there’s nothing to worry about. Beer shipping is a similar process, given that you adhere to all federal, state, and local laws. Take a look at how to ship beer below.
How To Ship Beer
If you’re growing a business centered on alcoholic beverages, you’re already familiar with its legal limitations as a consumer product. Learning how to ship beer legally is just as important, and it’s doable if you know what you’re going into.
Here is how to ship beer legally:
- Apply for your EIN and eCommerce business license. You need an employer identification number (EIN) and an eCommerce business license before any sales activity can take place. The government uses this information to track the origin of sales, income, and employee payments.
- Obtain the right licensure for your business. Shipping companies only carry alcohol packages if the goods originate from a licensed dealer, manufacturer, or distributor. State laws require each of these types of businesses to be licensed, and you’ll need to show this to shipping services before working with them.
- Get a shipping license. Shipping licenses approve businesses to ship across state lines, and many states require them. In most cases, you need a shipping license with each state that you plan to have customers in. These fees can add up quickly if you aren’t budgeting for them, so make sure you approach this part of your business with diligence.
- Follow the rules of all eCommerce shipping companies. Businesses like UPS and FedEx have alcohol shipping regulations for good reason. They want to make sure they aren’t breaking state or federal laws, and you should too. The good news is that as long as you follow their packaging and content limitations, there’s nothing to fret about.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship Beer?
A four- or six-pack of beer runs about $15 to $16 to ship to most locations. Package shipping fees are often calculated volumetrically, which takes into account total dimensional size as well as weight.
Getting your beer to buyers without damage makes everyone happy. You made some profit, customers enjoyed the product, and the shipping company handled their end of the deal.
Alcoholic beverages aren’t the only challenging kind of product to ship though. Learning how to ship large items should be on every eCommerce business owner’s list of skills. Check out tips on how to do this in the next section.
How To Ship Large Items
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. Your business needs some kind of spreadsheet or written plan that details expected shipping cost per product sold. If there’s no room to make money after subtracting shipping costs from sales, you need to cut costs somewhere or increase prices.
- 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. 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 asking for the best price available.
- 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?
It’s near impossible to predict how much it costs to ship any item, because the dimensions, weight, shipping speed, and value of products differ. However, the average base cost of shipping a large item is about $90. The average large shipment cost of $90 is generally applied to packages that are up to 108 inches (9 feet) or longer.
As you’ve read, shipping large items isn’t exactly a walk in the park. The nature of what you sell dictates how it gets packaged, and you may be breaking large objects down into smaller components. That’s not to mention the steep shipping costs associated with large items.
To simplify your warehouse work, you should consider batching. This is when you select multiple identical products for different orders. Keep reading for more info in the following section.
What Is A Batch? Fulfillment Batching Meaning
A batch is a group of the same products that are going into identical orders for different customers. Batching is used to streamline order fulfillment, improve productivity, and simplify inventory management.
Let’s look at how batching is done and how it can improve your business processes.
What Does Fulfillment Batching Mean?
Fulfillment batching is when you take multiple completed orders and ship them out simultaneously. This prevents any wasted effort of loading individual packages onto trucks each time.
The fulfillment batching process is useful for multiple reasons: it simplifies shipping activities, streamlines the work your eCommerce shipping company handles, and saves time. Your team will be more productive than ever because they can complete tasks in strategic bursts.
Batch Picking vs. Order Picking
Batch picking is gathering multiple product units for different orders. Order picking is retrieving each item needed for individual orders. Either method works, but in most cases, batch picking is both faster and more effective.
Order picking may be effective in smaller warehouses. The closer together your shelves are, the less time is spent across picking, packing, and staging for shipping.
Batch picking can be the difference between a chaotic, unorganized warehouse and an efficient, productive one. You’ll save minutes of time per day that add up to hours each year.
After your product picking strategy is streamlined, label printing is the next imperative. You may have a home-based business, too, which is even more reason to stay organized. Learn how to print shipping labels at home with the following information.
How To Print Shipping Labels at Home
You can print shipping labels from home if your eCommerce business is remote. Let’s look at multiple websites and payment gateways you can use to complete labels.
How to Print Shipping Label On PayPal
PayPal is a leading payment gateway that’s integrated with major eCommerce marketplaces. Here is how to print a shipping label through PayPal:
- Navigate to the PayPal website and log into your account.
- Click the “Activity” tab near the top of the webpage.
- Look for the transaction you want to print a label for, and click the “Ship” button next to it.
- Select either USPS or UPS as your shipping carrier.
- Review the information to ensure your address and the buyer’s address are correct. Double-check that no information is missing.
- Click the “Calculate shipping” button to retrieve your shipping cost.
- Click the “Confirm and Pay” button.
- Finally, click “Print label” and select the appropriate printer for your document.
How to Print Shipping Label On eBay
The popular peer-to-peer marketplace eBay experiences around 2 billion transactions per day. Accordingly, they make it fast and simple to print shipping labels on their website.
Here’s how to print a shipping label on eBay:
- Navigate to eBay’s website from within your Internet browser.
- Once logged into eBay, hover over “My eBay” in the upper right-hand corner and click on “Selling.”
- Hover over “Listings” and click on “Sold.”
- Look for the item you want to print a label for and click “Print shipping label.”
- Review your address and the buyer’s address for accuracy. Make sure no information is missing.
- Follow the prompts to add package details, such as dimensions, weight, and packaging type.
- Select a mailing date from the dropdown menu.
- Choose a shipping service to deliver your package through.
- If you use FedEx or UPS, shipping costs will be invoiced through your eBay account.
- If you use USPS, you’ll need a PayPal account to ship packages. Setting up a PayPal account is free and PayPal automatically deducts a fee when transactions are processed.
Understanding how to print labels is a great first step. For true workplace efficiency, you need a dedicated thermal label printer.
We took it upon ourselves to research the best label printers for eCommerce businesses of all kinds. Whether you run a large warehouse, a small wholesale operation, or anything in between, you’ll find a label printer for your needs. Check out our recommendations in the next section.
Best Shipping Label Printer
When sending hundreds or thousands of packages, there’s one thing your business can’t do without: a thermal shipping label printer. These inexpensive, high-output printers keep the shipping and labeling side of your business running smoothly.
Here are BlueCart’s recommendations on excellent thermal shipping label printers:
Best Thermal Shipping Label Printer: Polono Thermal Label Printer
One of the highest quality label printers available is Polono’s. Their macOS and Windows compatibility and one-click installation makes their product easy to get started in a snap. Polono is also compatible with eCommerce selling and shipping platforms, like Etsy, Amazon, UPS, Shopify, FedEx, and eBay.
Best Wireless Shipping Label Printer: JADENS Bluetooth Label Printer
The JADENS Bluetooth printer is a great wireless label printer for your business. You can print any 4x6 label directly through your smartphone, using their iPhone- and Android-compatible app. Each printer also comes with a free spare label holder and 100 free shipping labels to start.
Best Cheap Shipping Label Printer: Logia Thermal Label Printer
The Logia thermal printer is one of the best inexpensive options. This compact device prints 4x6 labels with ease and runs $40 to $100 less than most comparable printers. Connect it to your MacOS or Windows device and churn out thousands of labels per week.
Best DYMO Shipping Label Printer: DYMO LabelWriter 4XL
The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL is one of the long-standing thermal label printers. Print perfect 4x6 labels for shipping or smaller sizes for warehouse labels. The 4XL comes with one free roll of 220 labels to get you started right away.
Finding a thermal shipping label printer that suits your business saves time and money in the long run. You can print hundreds of labels per hour if needed, ensuring your picking and packing time is kept at a minimum.
You should also include a packing slip with each order. If you aren’t familiar with packing slips yet, read the next section to learn all about them.
Packing Slip Meaning & Template
If you’ve done any kind of inventory management or order fulfillment work, you've definitely heard the term packing slip.
So, what’s a packing slip, and what is it used for when it comes to shipping and handling? Let’s take a look.
What Is a Packing Slip?
A packing slip lists all the items in a package and is included in the box when it ships out. Packing slips serve numerous purposes. They help staff track and complete orders, avoid mistakes, and simplify returns (when needed).
Packing Slip Template
Packing slips contain quite a bit of information, so they can feel overwhelming to create. To help, we've made a couple packing slip templates you can use.
Packing Slip Example
If any of this has been confusing, let's highlight a few pieces of information to include on your packing slip. Make sure these five data points are on your business’s packing slips:
- Your business info. Each packing slip should have your business name, address, and logo to ensure the customer knows who they purchased the products from.
- Customer shipping and billing info. Many customers, especially a B2B business, have different billing and shipping addresses. Ensure your label or shipping software provides enough fields for both, which prevents confusion later on.
- Purchase order number. A PO number is a unique number assigned to an order for internal tracking purposes. It can be cross-referenced with other tracking numbers to ensure the right order was delivered.
- Itemized list of products. The most obvious thing you'll need on your packing slip is a list of the products in the package. Your warehouse staff can use this list to check all items have been picked and included in the shipment.
- Product SKUs. SKUs are necessary for internal product tracking. These strings of numbers and letters are unique to each product type and are scanned before the product is sent. Your inventory tracking system is automatically updated whenever a SKU is scanned, making ending inventory much easier to calculate.
- Product quantities. It's also important to include a field for product quantities to ensure you pack the correct amount of each product. You can quickly run into issues with shrinkage and rising costs if these numbers are incorrect.
If a customer wants to return an order, you’ll need to provide them enough information to do so. You can accomplish this with an RMA number, or return merchandise authorization, on packing slips. Learn why RMAs are important and how to use them below.
RMA Meaning: What Is RMA & The RMA Process?
RMA is an acronym that stands for return merchandise authorization. It's the first part of the process of returning a product to a business to receive a refund, replacement, or repair. In this step, the business and customer discuss the problem and the business determines the validity of the issue.
What Is an RMA Number?
An RMA number is the string of digits assigned by a business to a particular order to authorize a product return. The number is used to track the products as they are received.
What Is an RMA Form?
An RMA form is a document used to return products to a company. This form will outline the reason for the return and the expected next steps. It can be included with the product inside eCommerce packaging or sent out to customers upon request.
Here are the fields you should include on an RMA form:
At a minimum, you should have fields for their name, address, and phone number. This will allow you to send them a replacement if needed and look them up in your system to find their original order.
Here, your customer can write the name of the product and the quantity they're returning. This information is valuable as it lets the warehouse team know what products they'll have to store.
Reason for Return
This field gives you insight into both the legitimacy of the customer complaint and identifying recurring issues with the product. If the same product is getting returned for a particular issue, you'll know you need to have a conversation with your supplier.
Return or Refund
If your company offers both returns and refunds for product issues, you need a field where the customer can request either choice. This also limits customer dissatisfaction and the amount of work needed after receiving customer feedback.
Shipping packages quickly and inexpensively is an integral part of any eCommerce business. The knowledge, strategies, and insights in this blog post will help you run your business efficiently well into the future.
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