5 ways to cut office shipping costs

It’s all in the packing – from size to services.

As you face the shipping and mailing price changes scheduled by the USPS® to take effect January 22, 2017, the thought of overall increases may have you despairing. But there are numerous ways to reduce your shipping costs, and they don’t have to be complicated. Furthermore, once you’ve introduced these measures into your shipping process, you can continue to reap savings with future sending.

01. Small box size makes a big difference.

With major carriers, including USPS, UPS® and others, basing their shipping rates on Dimensional Rating (DIM) for packages rather than weight alone, it pays – or saves – to use the smallest packaging possible. Dimensions include height, width and length of the package, no matter what the contents are. The things to look out for when sizing may seem like common sense, but when you’re in a rush to send something out or have limited storage space for multiple-size boxes, meeting the guidelines can be challenging. A bit of pre-planning can help. Ask yourself:

  • How many different types of boxes do you use and can you reduce that number?
  • Can you consolidate the box sizes, minimizing the need to measure each box?
  • Are you shipping boxes with empty space and extra filler material?
  • Can you use Flat Rate boxes provided by USPS (see below)?

Within the sizing guidelines falls a nifty little option called folding boxes. These multi-depth brown corrugated shipping boxes are designed to be cut to the size you need, allowing you to minimize the size of the package. In its efforts to help its customers keep costs down, Pitney Bowes can supply these boxes, which are designed to withstand high stacking and bursting weights.

02. Flat rate packaging – handle with care.

USPS Flat Rate Boxes offer flat postage rates, despite the weight (as long as it is under 70 pounds). As long as the contents fit, items ship at a flat rate no matter what Zone (Postal Code) they are being sent to. Although this option is ideal for certain shipping needs, it is not always the most cost-effective, so make sure you identify where the savings benefits end. For specific information about the size of the USPS Flat Rate packages, visit here.

03. Step it up with regional rate packaging. USPS also offers regional rate pricing with Flat Rate Boxes. This option can provide savings over standard Flat Rate Boxes and is available for Priority Mail® parcels and Merchandise Return Service (MRS) where parcels are returned at Priority Mail prices. The one- to three-day service includes tracking if the package bears an Intelligent Mail® package barcode (IMpb) or retail tracking barcode (details below). Insurance may be included. Shippers must use USPS-produced Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes to qualify for Regional Rate Box pricing.

04. Ship smart with Intelligent Mail. As part of the IMpb service, the USPS has introduced a second tier of pricing for its most common shipping services. The IMpb is a barcode format that includes information about your specific shipment, enabling the USPS to track packages from pick-up to delivery, including up to 11 interim scans. The USPS uses this data to expedite package delivery and reduce costs.

The service helps you to qualify for Commercial Base Pricing (CBP), which could mean significant savings on postage. It also provides free insurance ($50 on Priority Mail or $100 on Priority Mail Express), all without going to the Post Office™. And you can access reliable, end-to-end tracking information for you and your customers. Intelligent Mail offers the best commercial prices with significant discounts and includes features such as piece-level tracking information at no additional charge.

05. Know the difference between First Class Mail and First Class Package services. USPS offers two services for smaller packages under 13 ounces. Once a package is over 13 ounces, it automatically becomes Priority Mail. First Class Mail Retail Parcels are between 1 – 13 ounces, with contents being personal correspondence. Items are closed to postal inspection, and must be processed at the Retail rate. With the 2017 rate change, First Class Mail Parcels from one to four ounces will cost $2.67, with an increasing scale to 13 ounces at $4.29.

The First Class Package Service is an alternative for shipping goods. This is non-personal correspondence that can be sent at CBP rates using a full shipping label and is considered a more typical option for commercial shipping of goods. The 2017 rate increase for the First Class Package Service will cost $2.61 for one to four ounces with an increasing scale up to 15.999 ounces at a cost of $4.30. Benefits include tracking and delivery timing using the barcode shipping label, and free insurance.