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Small businesses have to be smart about their shipping strategy. The big players in the eCommerce world can offer lower shipping rates because of the sheer volume of packages they send out every day. That’s why small business shipping needs to focus on reducing shipping costs and choosing the right shipping strategy/methods/couriers.

In this blog, we’ll show you how to do both of those things so you can level the playing field and provide a great customer experience.

Small business shipping basics

Before you start looking at saving money or thinking about intricate strategy, you need to ensure that you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.

It’s a lot more work than it initially seems. You need to pick, pack, and mail your orders as they come in. Then there are returns, complaints, lost & damage items, and much more you’ll need to navigate through.

On top of the above, you’ll also have to trust the couriers you’ve chosen to deliver each package in a timely and reliable manner. If a package is late or damaged this will negatively impact your business’s reputation among your customer base.

Another important factor to consider is how your business calculates shipping costs. Shipping costs are more than simply the price it costs to send a package with a certain courier, they include packaging (boxes, tape, design, foam peanuts, etc.), warehouse employees, courier costs, and potentially import & export fees when shipping internationally.

To justify and explain the shipping costs and general expectations, all merchants are required to create a shipping policy. It’s best to ensure the policy is both easy to find and easy to understand. This way you can avoid many complaints and questions that are answered within the policy itself. Also, as an extra tip, consider an FAQ section on your website!

Fun (or not really that fun) little insight from Sendcloud’s Consumer Research 2021; 90% of UK shoppers said that the delivery costs were either important or very important when contemplating whether or not to complete a purchase.

How to get the cheapest shipping for small businesses in the UK

There are a few things you can do to reduce shipping costs for your small business. Though not all of these options will be completely viable for your business.

Our first tip is to ship your orders in bulk. If you have the storage space and if you feel it won’t negatively impact your reputation among your customers, it’s worth holding onto orders until you have enough to fill a larger shipment (or multiple shipments). This way, you’ll only have to pay for shipping one larger shipment as opposed to multiple smaller ones.

Another cost-saving tip is to use recycled packaging materials. Not only is it cost-saving, but it’s also planet-saving and that’s something we can (and should) all get behind. You can often find these for free at local businesses or online retailers who are happy to get rid of them. They’re only going to recycle them in bulk anyways! Save you money; check. Good for the environment; check. What’s not to love?

The weight and size of your packaging are also hugely important when it comes to shipping costs. The heavier or larger your shipment the more you pay. This is why foam peanuts are an excellent choice for packaging material as they’re incredibly lightweight. Also, try to ensure that your packaging isn’t way too big for the product. If you have awkward or large-sized boxes, you could be hit with a fee from the courier.

Sendcloud is a supporter of playing the courier field i.e. using a multi-courier strategy. Unfortunately, small business UK postage options aren’t as simple as one courier being the best priced for all shipping methods.

You need to explore multiple couriers to pick and choose which shipping options from each courier suit your business needs best. Via a shipping platform such as Sendcloud, you can seamlessly and quickly start shipping with multiple couriers. It’s a huge benefit for small business shipping.

Want to discover how to create a high-performing landing page for your online store? Check out our in-depth blog here.

How to choose the best courier for small businesses

When it comes to creating the right shipping strategy, there are more than a few things you need to take into consideration.

First of all, how to choose the best courier for small business.

Then think about your customers’ wants and needs. Are your customers willing to pay premium prices for faster or more secure shipping?

If you don’t know this answer, we recommend looking into your particular industry via your competitors and market leaders to see which shipping options they offer. If you ship expensive or fragile products, having a premium shipping option is essentially a necessity.

However, if you’re customer-base is more price sensitive, find ways to offer free shipping thresholds or low-cost shipping at the expense of delivery time.

The second thing you need to consider is your own business needs. Linked to the small business shipping basics, consider what kind of turnaround time you need to get orders out the door.

If you’re selling perishable items, you’ll need to choose a shipping method that gets the product to the customer quickly.

On the other hand, if you can afford to take a few extra days to ship an order, you might be able to save money by choosing a slower but cheaper shipping method.

And finally, as mentioned before adopt a multi-courier strategy. Aside from being able to save money here, using multiple couriers makes your small business’s shipping far more flexible.

The perks of a specific courier can vary between delivery time, tracking options, customer service, price, eco-friendliness, and more. Consider which of these are important for you and your customers and offer a variation of couriers.

Other things to consider when shipping as a small business

We’ve covered the basics, cheap shipping for small businesses in the UK, and small business postage options. However, there are a couple of final things you may need to consider as a small business shipping in the UK (and maybe beyond). With that being said..

To which destinations are you shipping?

Are you shipping purely domestically or do you have international customers as well? Where is your warehouse in relation to the lion’s share of your customers? Both are important questions to consider.

If you know or notice that your shipping orders to a relatively costly shipping zone, you may want to consider outsourcing your shipping efforts to a fulfilment company.

Perhaps you notice that certain zones are simply not profitable. You should consider reducing the number of shipping zones and be patient and brave enough to deep-dive into the analytics and performance of each zone, country, and region.

The importance of green to your brand

Eco-friendliness is on the rise. Many new businesses with younger founders and owners are thankfully becoming more green-aware.

Regrettably, being eco-friendly with your shipping comes with higher costs. However, if your customer base is supportive and proud of your eco-friendliness, you have to ensure that you do not cut corners for the sake of costs.

If green delivery is simply not profitable and impacts your livelihood, there are other away to support the environment. Many small businesses pledge or donate a certain amount of their sales or profits to various green organisations.

Although technically, this doesn’t make a company “green”, many vocal environmentalists are incredibly supportive of small businesses making a conscious and good-hearted effort.

Also, as your business grows and green delivery becomes more viable, you will already have a strong understanding of and a strong public image for being eco-friendly

In conclusion, there are a few things you can do with small business shipping with the right strategy in place. Many aspiring entrepreneurs are currently using Sendcloud to handle their small business shipping.

However, don’t just take our word from it. Watch, business owner, UK Curly Girl’s video on how she ships her online orders for her small business.