One advantage to running your business online is that in most cases, it is less expensive to operate than a physical location. There is, however, one thing that remains pricey, and often becomes an even greater expense for businesses that operate online: the cost of shipping. Packaging and shipping items can get very expensive and can thereby take a huge bite out of your profits. In order to maximize the potential revenue generated by your online business, it is imperative to keep your shipping costs as low as possible.
The first step in reducing your shipping costs is to cut the amount you spend on the packaging materials you use for shipping out your items. There are a couple of ways that you can save money on your shipping supplies.
Whenever possible, try to reuse packaging materials. Things like bubble wrap and other padding are expensive, so any time you can save the packing materials from incoming packages and reuse it to send things out, you are saving money. When appropriate, you may also wish to use recycled paper to pad your boxes. (If you are shipping delicate items that may be affected by absorbing the acid present in most paper and inks, you should either first wrap the item well in bubble wrap before adding paper, or just avoid the paper altogether!) Newspapers and the like can be wadded up and stuffed around objects; the paper out of your shredder will work nicely as well.
When purchasing packaging materials, it is important to shop around for the best deals. For example, I use a lot of padded envelopes for shipping out items sold in my Etsy shop. I decided to check out every alternative source for purchasing the envelopes that I could think of. Previously, I had been paying about 79 cents apiece for the 8 ½ by 11 inch size padded envelope. I discovered that one of the local dollar stores in my town had them for only 50 cents each (sold in packs of two for a dollar). It may not seem like a huge savings when you are only buying a few envelopes, but when you start buying them by the hundreds or thousands, the savings add up to be enormous!
If you are shipping items via United States Postal Service Priority Mail, particularly if you are shipping items that are heavy, you may want to consider using a USPS flat rate box. The boxes are available in a variety of sizes, which ship domestically for flat rates starting at $4.95 and going up to $13.95. The boxes can also be shipped Internationally for flat rates that vary depending on what zone the destination country is located in. There is even a special APO/FPO flat rate box for shipping items to military service men and women stationed overseas.
If you are not using a flat rate box, remember that the weight of your packaging materials affects how much it costs for postage. A cardboard box stuffed with paper will be far heavier than a padded envelope and a few layers of tissue paper. Always try to make the package as lightweight as possible while still protecting the contents of the package.
Keeping your shipping costs as low as possible is an important way to maximize your bottom line, so always be looking for new ways that you can save money!