As a large number of folks were clinking champagne glasses and ringing in 2017, almost every shipping carrier on the market today was increasing their rates by 3-5%. If your company ships a lot of items as part of the daily business routine it can quickly become an expensive task, and the more you ship the greater the potential for some missed opportunities to save on postage. With the sheer number of shipping carriers out there and all of the variables, finding the cheapest shipping carrier for your organization can be overwhelming.
Why is it so challenging to find the cheapest shipping carrier?
There are virtually too many reasons to list, but they all pretty much boil down to one thing: variables.
First and foremost, rate structures vary across carriers, so you’re never really comparing apples to apples. No two carriers have the same pricing structure and lots of little elements affect the final price you’ll pay depending on which carrier you choose. Here’s a quick look at some of the things that can drive a carrier’s shipping rate up or down:
Guaranteed delivery times
These are, quite simply, times that a sender can select which represent a guaranteed arrival time to the recipient. The earlier you want the package to arrive, the more it will cost. If your company is truly looking to find the cheapest shipping carrier, it’s always a good idea to look at a mapping tool, something that most carriers offer on their respective websites. This makes it much easier to estimate delivery times, and can often lead to a company choosing a less expensive shipping option than an expedited service, and in the end the package arrives to the recipient at the same time. The customer gets their package on time and you save on postage because you went with the cheapest shipping carrier. It’s a win-win!
Missed delivery attempts
This represents the number of times a carrier will attempt to deliver the package before the recipients must pick it up themselves at a facility.
This one can have a big impact on how much your final shipping price actually is. Dimensional weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width and height of a package. This gets tricky because you can have a very light item, but if it’s awkwardly shaped and requires a shipping container with large dimensions you can pay a considerable amount to ship. Often times the cheapest shipping carrier will be the one with the most flexible dimensional weight parameters.
This is a fee charged by the carrier to deliver to more remote areas, usually far away from a shipping hub. The more rural the delivery address, the more expensive it usually is to ship and the harder it becomes to save on postage. “Extended area” zip codes vary by carrier, so this is one area that is definitely a factor in finding the cheapest shipping carrier.
Even if you’re only looking at one carrier the task of calculating the most economical shipping option can be challenging. For example, if you’re looking for a “1-day” option, FedEx might give you all the prices for overnight shipping, but neglect to tell you that ground shipping (which is much cheaper!) might still get your package there overnight. Again, mapping tools can be an easy way to find the cheapest shipping carrier.
Keeping up with rate changes
Perhaps the simplest reason it’s so challenging to quickly come up with the cheapest shipping carrier is that carriers simply change their rates–a lot. It can be difficult to keep up with all of those changes. Seasonality (i.e. holidays) can drive shipping rates through the roof, especially if you need something delivered on short notice.
Your employees are not expert on shipping
Another challenge lies within your company’s personnel. The folks doing the majority of the shipping and mailing probably aren’t shipping experts (and may not care a bit about whether or not they’re using the cheapest shipping carrier), and they’re going to resort to whatever is familiar when it comes time to ship something on the company’s behalf. They’ll send it how it’s always been sent, or how someone told them to do it when they first started working in that department, and that’s not always going to be the best option for the company.
Many companies strictly use UPS and/or FedEx because they associate a certain service and reliability image with those brands. But put yourself in your customers’ (or recipients’) shoes for a moment. They really don’t care how their package gets to them, as long as it gets there on time and intact. The USPS boasts metrics just as good as UPS and FedEx, and they generally offer better deals for every delivery timeframe, delivery distance and package size. In other words, you can ensure you’re going with the cheapest shipping carrier by making sure your company isn’t too hung up on going with the “name brand.”
So how do you wade through all of that chaos and actually find the cheapest shipping carrier?
That’s where a multi-carrier solution like Pitney Bowes SendPro comes in.
The first benefit you’ll notice with a one-stop-shop like SendPro is that the carrier rates across multiple companies are always up to date. Plus, you can rest easy knowing that what you’re seeing are also the best possible rates each carrier has to offer. That makes it virtually foolproof to select the cheapest shipping carrier.
The traditional method of trying to find the cheapest shipping carrier is a time-consuming process that involves a lot of switching between carrier sites and calculating rates based on countless variables. For a company that ships a lot, this can quickly become a labor-intensive practice, not to mention expensive by way of missed opportunities to save on postage and the man hours it takes to accomplish the task. With a solution like SendPro, simply enter your delivery objective and the rates across all carriers are automatically calculated, ensuring you find cheapest shipping carrier, all while saving on labor expenses in the process.
Furthermore, with SendPro there’s no need to understand the complex ins and outs of the various carrier rates. Anyone can be an “expert” and find the cheapest shipping carrier by simply viewing all of the available options and selecting the cheapest one that will get your package there on time. SendPro is also specifically designed for office shipping, as opposed to e-commerce. This ensures that the solution is easy to use and can be deployed across your entire organization.
The SendPro solution is just one way to maximize your company’s shipping effectiveness and find the cheapest shipping carrier. For a more in depth look at the shipping solutions you might be missing out on, download our helpful Shipping Simplified guide.