Packaging and shipping costs are one of the biggest expenses for e-commerce businesses, regardless of their size, industry and experience. However, the good news that some of them may not be aware of is that there are opportunities to save.

How can businesses take advantage of packaging and shipping-related discounts?

E-commerce business owners, did you know that there are ways to score discounts on everything from packaging supplies to shipping rates? To take advantage of the deals that are out there, you often just need to do a bit of research, ask questions, and negotiate. Here are some of the things that e-commerce business owners can be doing to score discounts:

How businesses can get free or discounted packaging supplies: 

  • Ask your carrier! Did you know that the major carriers (UPS, FedEx and USPS) all offer their customers free shipping supplies? Most only require that your e-commerce business has an account with them, and a valid physical address to receive packages.
  • For packaging items that must be purchased, buying in bulk results in lower prices and less orders that business owners must remember to place. We know you’re busy, so one less thing on the to-do list is always nice!
  • Reuse and recycle! This can be done in quite a few ways: You can recycle the boxes that your inventory arrives in, as well as things like packing peanuts, bubble wrap, etc. You can also reuse your own undamaged boxes and packaging supplies after a customer returns a product. Or, if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty in the name of saving money, you can raid the dumpsters of other local businesses that throw away lots of boxes and reusable packaging materials. Instead of actually digging through dirty dumpsters, we recommend contacting these businesses, and working out a mutually beneficial relationship where you score free supplies, and they get rid of their waste while helping someone. It’s a win-win for both of you, as well as the environment!

How businesses can get discounted shipping rates: 

  • Remember that you have negotiating power as a small business owner. Use your negotiation skills to speak with multiple carriers, and determine which one will offer you the lowest rates.
  • Ask for discounts and offer loyalty in exchange. While the companies with higher shipping volumes will be offered better rates, smaller businesses can ask for volume discounts in exchange for staying loyal to one shipping carrier.
  • On the contrary, using multiple shipping carriers can also be a way to score the best discounts if your business ships a variety of different products. Shipping rates vary by carrier based on the weight, dimensions, and destination of your package, and sometimes it pays to ship certain products with one carrier, and other products with another. Keep in mind that although this can help businesses save money over time, it might not be worth the extra time and labor. 
  • Prepay whenever possible. If you routinely ship out packages of the same size and weight, asking if there is an option to prepay can help you save money and time.
  • Outsourcing order fulfillment to a 3PL services company like Global Response 3PL can help e-commerce businesses enjoy discounted shipping rates due to greater shipping volumes.