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Shipping Time and Money Savers

This month we’re focusing on inventory and order fulfillment, and shipping of course is a big part of that process.  When it comes to customer service, the typical rules apply: ship within 24 hours; don’t charge a handling fee; and send a tracking number the same day you ship.  To save money and time on the backend, try some of these shipping tips:      

Shop around for a shipper
For some merchants, US Postal Service (USPS) offers the most cost savings, while others use UPS or FedEx, so you should consider all your options.  Check out a regional carrier like OnTrac.  If you offer multiple shipping providers, determine which ones your customers are using the most. If few shoppers are using a certain service, removing it might save you some money.
    USPS is often the cheapest carrier when you’re shipping two pounds or less.  And remember, priority mail ships at a flat rate, so no matter how heavy your items, you can ship whatever can fit in one box for one price. 
    Shopping around for the best shipping price can also help you improve your customer service.  For instance, if customers pick a certain shipping speed, and you can give them an upgraded service for the same price they paid, they’ll appreciate the speedy delivery.

Try a hybrid shipping option
Hybrid shipping services, like FedEx SmartPost, use private companies like FedEx, UPS and DHL for most of the shipping distance and then partners with the USPS who makes the final delivery.  If you’re shipping to residential customers, these services can help you decrease surcharges and save up to 50 percent compared to traditional ground shipments. 

Save Time and Money, Ship Online
Save on postage when you use the US Postal Service’s online services.  Not only do you save money, but you also save time.  Just order free Priority Mail and Express Mail supplies from USPS.com, and they’ll be delivered right to your door.  You can create labels, pay postage by credit card, and even purchase insurance online.  Then let the USPS know your packages are ready, and your mail carrier will pick them up.  Afterwards you can easily view your shipping history. 

Print Once with PayPal Multiorder Shipping
Print up to 50 domestic USPS shipping labels at one time, complete with postage, right from your PayPal account.  You pay postage costs, but the service is free.  If you also use the USPS SCAN form, postal employees can scan the bar codes for every package in your shipment at once.  You and your customers are then able to use USPS' Track & Confirm tool to verify that a package was actually sent.  

Consider an online service for domestic mail
If you need a more robust shipping system, an online service like DYMO Endicia or Pitney Bowes can help make your back-end more efficient and cost-effective.  Endicia  lets you print postage-paid labels for all domestic mail classes, including Priority Mail, Media Mail, and Parcel Post.  It offers a slew of features like discounted electronic delivery and signature confirmation, address verification, pre-filled custom forms, optional service fee payment for certified and registered mail, bulk acceptance scans, UPS WorldShip and FedEx Ship Manager Links, and weight and zone-based service mapping.  One especially cool feature is Stealth Postage.  It allows you to hide postage amounts from your shipping labels so you can protect your shipping and handling profit margins and avoid customer complaints about shipping charges. 

Use multicarrier online shipping software
Incorporate software like ShipWorks and ShipRush into your store to help you streamline your process and save time.   ShipWorks, for example, downloads your orders and makes it easy to create shipping labels, print invoices, and manage customer communications.  It automatically emails your customers tracking numbers when you ship and updates the online status of your orders.  Reports help you cull data, like how much you've made or lost on shipping costs.  It even maintains an order and shipping history of all your customers so that you can quickly view how much a particular shopper has spent at your store.  ShipWorks has integrated support for FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, Endicia, and Stamps.com.  And multiple computers can use it on one network. Depending on your volume, ShipWorks ranges from $14.95 to $49.95 a month. 

Ship smart internationally
Again, check out all your options.  USPS is often the best option for international shipments, especially for packages that are four pounds or less.  Duties are also less costly for USPS packages than shipments with other companies.  DYMO Endicia allows you to ship USPS First Class online, the least expensive way to ship internationally.  Although you can print Express Mail International, Priority Mail International, and Global Express Guaranteed labels using USPS.com, you can't use the USPS website to print international First Class labels. 
    When using FedEx, compare FedEx Ground and FedEx International Economy.  Shipping company InXpress also offers a hybrid solution that’s ideal for smaller web stores that ship a lot of international or air packages.

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Comments

Here’s a workaround I use, if you are fed up of being shut out of auctions because the eBay seller does not ship to your country. The same goes for online retailers who refuse to ship to your destination.

When you sign up with BPM, you get local shipping addresses in 6 countries.
Drop points include: USA, UK, Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. You then use these for buying from whom you want, regardless of where the seller ships or not.

You then have all your purchases combined into one, even from the different countries, and use the parcel mail forwarding service to have everything sent home in only one shipment, wherever you are in the world!

Membership for renting these addresses and using the service is only 5€ per month.
You can check it out on http://www.bpm-lux.com

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