Shipping is notorious for incremental costs slipped in here and there that wreak havoc on your bottom line. Fuel surcharges, unexpected delivery charges, shipping supplies, annual rate increases, it all adds up fast. Keeping your shipping process lean, organized, and cost effective is essential to minimizing this expense line.
For this post we’re going to focus on the shipping supplies part of the entire shipping process and a few places we (and our users) think are good sources for purchasing shipping supplies for e-commerce sellers of any size.
Free Shipping Supplies
As you know from my previous post on free and heavily discounted shipping supplies and services that UPS, FedEx, and USPS all offer free shipping supplies to their customers in the form of branded boxes and various sizes of shipping labels, but that selection is limited. It is likely that you will need to purchase items beyond what they offer, but make sure you’re taking advantage of these free items anywhere you can. Saving around $1 on a free box that USPS/UPS/FedEx supplies vs buying your own adds up when you’re shipping 500+ boxes per month. The free shipping supplies post goes over how to order these free items from USPS/UPS/FedEx, so give it a read if you want to figure out how.
Cheap Shipping Supplies
One of my favorite places to buy things on the Internet, which also works out great for shipping supplies, is Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, you can order different shipping supplies and get free 2-day delivery. One nice feature on Amazon is it tells you how much time you have to order something to have it ship out same day.
A few tips about ordering from Amazon
- Read reviews of anything you want to buy. Just because it’s shipped from an Amazon warehouse doesn’t guarantee its quality.
- Shop around. There might be different types of the same item that are cheaper than others. Amazon has such a wide product range that there are good deals sometimes buried within search results, especially if you have time on your side and don’t need it yesterday.
I suggest Amazon if you already have a Prime membership and mostly need simple items like poly mailers and box packing tape. If you’re going to order a large mix of items and need a consistent flow of shipping supplies, finding an independent site that deals in only shipping supplies might be the right course for you, although Amazon can cover the needs of many sellers.
Standalone label and shipping supplies websites
These are sites that are solely focused on selling shipping labels and shipping supplies. One key advantage of these sites is they will form a relationship with you around your shipping needs as a business rather than a place like Amazon where you simply order supplies and don’t get much service beyond that. We have 3 stores here listed that our customers like, although there can be many more out there.
ULINE has been around for a long time. Their site and selection is massive, and serves a lot more items than just shipping supplies and labels.
From their policies page:
- Orders shipped on the same day if ordered before 6PM
- They ship from 10 different warehouses in North America, meaning your shipments will arrive quickly regardless of where you are. They have a shipping time estimate calculator based on your location. I am in Austin and it estimated my packages would deliver in 1 day, which makes sense since they have a Dallas warehouse.
The team over at OnlineLabels.com is a bit unique as they not only sell just about every shape and size of label, but they actually manufacture the labels themselves . On top of that they have tools for customizing labels and other cool little features.
A couple of notes on their policies page:
- No minimum orders
- They encourage potential buyers to reach out to them and ask questions and request samples. Give them a call and let them know what kind of shipping setup you have and they’ll send you something. Contact information is on their policy page.
- A low price guarantee on labels, if you find cheaper labels elsewhere they’ll match it then reduce the price by another 10%
- Orders shipped same day if ordered before 5PM
This is a good place to get started if you haven’t yet nailed down a shipping supplies vendor, or want to explore what’s available to online sellers. Supplies is one place you can save a good chunk of money on your shipping process, and you only stand to save more if your shipping volume is high, so giving these places a look is definitely worth your time.