Six common shipping mistakes

Planning your shipping workflow can help save time and money. Here are six common mistakes to avoid.

To get their products out to customers quickly and cost-effectively, small to medium business owners should consider some of the most common SMB shipping mistakes and how to avoid them:

Error #1: Choosing the wrong mail class

Solution: Mail class determines how quickly your package gets to its location and how much you pay for it to get there on time. To that end, you’ll want to ensure that you’re selecting the right USPS mail class based on the package’s weight.

For example, if it weighs 13 ounces or less, you probably want to opt for the United State Postal Service’s First Class Mail®.  If it’s heavier, you’ll most likely want Priority Mail®; otherwise, you could be inadvertently underpaying the amount of postage due. If that happens, the package may come back to you, requiring it to be reshipped (and delaying delivery time), or the customer may be liable for paying the difference in postage. Either way, choosing the wrong mail class for a heavier package is likely to result in some unhappy customers.

Error #2: Mislabeled packaging

Solution: In addition to picking the right mail class, it’s equally important to pair it with the right shipping label. Shipping labels take weight, size and shipping zone all into account, so double check that these details are correct in order to avoid generating an inaccurate label that could grind your shipment’s delivery status to a halt.

Error #3: Neglecting package dimensions

Solution: Some carriers aren’t calculating shipping costs based solely on weight anymore. Consequently, shipping costs for private carriers, like UPS® or FedEx®, may have gone up. The good news is the Postal Service may be the most cost-effective option for delivering your items.

If your package is larger than one cubic foot (or 12” x 12” x 12”), the Postal Service’s dimensional (DIM) weight pricing may apply, so you’ll be charged based on a shipment’s height, width and length, in addition to its weight. Make sure you’re packing products in space-appropriate packaging to avoid running up additional and unnecessary DIM costs.

Error #4: Printing the label with the wrong zip code(s)

Solution: This is an easy mistake to make but it’s a potentially costly one, too! Address management is key to getting this right so make sure that the zip codes on both your shipping address and the receiver’s address are correct. The Postal Service calculates shipping zones, costs and speed based on the length of travel from the sender’s zip code to that of its destination.

Error #5: Underpaying on postage

Solution: Your package’s weight may not land on an easy-to-remember whole number, but that doesn’t mean you should budget so tightly that you don’t account for those pesky decimal points, either. In fact, postage management is important to be sure you have the funds you need and don’t fall short. Note that the Postal Service rounds package weights up to the next whole number, and if you haven’t priced the postage accordingly, your package may not reach its final destination.

Error #6: Misuse of boxes

Solution: All too often, people grab the first box they see, regardless of how appropriate it is for the item. For example, if you don’t have a “small flat rate box,” someone may pick a bigger box that costs twice as much to send. Be sure to have the right types of packaging handy; planning ahead can help to save you time and money in the long run. 

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