Now is the perfect time to start the small business you’ve always dreamt of. Your dream might not guide you on where to find shipping supplies, some of the most commonly used carrier services, and our free Starter plan. But, this blog does! For the first lesson in our Shipping 101 series, we’re going to introduce you to the basics of shipping and ShippingEasy.
Table of Contents
- Carrier service recommendations for small businesses
- Where to find shipping supplies
- Finding the best shipping rates for your small business
- The shipping solution for the small business owner
- Recommended Bookmarks
Carrier service recommendations for small businesses
One of the first steps when starting your business is learning how to ship your incoming orders. The best service available may vary from order to order, so it’s beneficial to know some available carrier options ahead of time. When you’re considering the best carrier service option for your package, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your shipment’s dimensions (the weight, length, height, and width)
- When your package needs to arrive at its destination
- The distance your shipment is traveling
Like we mentioned, these factors might change based on your shipment. For example, a customer might need a package expedited for a special occasion. Also, the holiday season will include shipping deadlines, so you’ll have to ship packages within a certain timeframe for them to arrive to your customers in time. Those exceptions aside, let’s discuss the most commonly used carrier services.
Learn more about the world of expedited shipping in our blog!
USPS Priority Mail®
One of the most commonly used USPS services is Priority Mail®. Priority Mail® provides you and your customers with tracking information and an estimated 1-3 day delivery window, with the exception of Sundays and/or holidays. More benefits of Priority Mail include:
- Shipping packages up to 70 pounds
- Up to $100 of built-in insurance for eligible shipments
- The ability to schedule pickups straight from your ShippingEasy account*
- Measurement allowance of up to 108 inches, between the length and girth
*Note: Packages shipped using USPS Ground Advantage™ aren’t available to be scheduled for pickup through ShippingEasy and will have to be scheduled through USPS directly.
Dive into the world of USPS with our blog, Shipping Unboxed: FAQs about USPS.
UPS® Ground gives you an affordable delivery option with a delivery window of 1-5 business days, and up to 90% of UPS® Ground packages are delivered in 3 days or less. You also have access to 24/7 tracking information. Other features include:
- Shipping for packages up to 150 pounds and up to 108 inches long
- Delivery to both homes and businesses in all 50 states and Puerto Rico
- Residential delivery to more than 100 metro areas across the U.S. on Saturday at no additional cost for select UPS® Ground Packages.**
Using the UPS account included with ShippingEasy, your business can get discounts on domestic and international shipping, including up to 78% off on UPS® Ground shipments, up to 73% for UPS 2nd Day Air® service and UPS Next Day Air® service, and up to 82% off on international services. These rates include Fuel Surcharge and Residential Surcharge for all services and Delivery Area Surcharge for Domestic Services.*
*Discounts off UPS daily rates. Rates are limited to shipping from the U.S. only. Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.
**Select Ground Packages with a committed delivery day of Monday or Tuesday may be eligible to receive delivery on the Saturday prior to their committed delivery date in territories eligible for Saturday Residential delivery.
Find the answers to your UPS questions in Shipping Unboxed: FAQs about UPS and your UPS account!
FedEx Ground® and FedEx Home Delivery® are two of the most commonly used FedEx services. FedEx Ground® is used to ship when sending shipments to business/commercial addresses while FedEx Home Delivery® is used for home addresses. Their advantages are:
- Both services allow for shipments of up to 150”
- 1-5 day delivery window for contiguous US states
- 3-7 day delivery window for Hawaii and Alaska
- FedEx Home Delivery allows for shipments to be delivered on weekends
- Eligible materials that are deemed hazardous can be shipped with FedEx Ground®
Creating a ShippingEasy account won’t automatically give access to their services. If you decide FedEx is your carrier of choice, you’ll need to create an account with them directly and integrate it with your ShippingEasy account.
Where to find shipping supplies
After you decide which carrier services are best for your business, you’ll need to have shipping supplies at the ready. We recommend starting your collection with:
- Clear tape
- Kraft paper, newspaper, and other paper products for fragile items
- Bubble wrap
- Shipping box, a few inches bigger than your products
- Thank you notes for your customers
Over time, you may decide to invest in branded shipping supplies. However, for a new business just getting started, it’s easier to get your supplies directly from carriers. Fortunately, some carriers offer free supplies for order on their websites for merchants and supply locators if you’d rather purchase supplies in person.
Did you know you can order USPS supplies from your ShippingEasy account? Learn how!
Where to find USPS supplies
You can buy supplies from USPS directly and have them delivered to your home or business. USPS offers online supply ordering, so you can have supplies shipped directly to your home or business. Your local post office isn’t guaranteed to have these supplies in stock, so we recommend checking USPS’s locator tool to see what supplies are available.
Where to find UPS supplies
UPS also offers online supply ordering, and you’ll need to log in or create a new username to start your order. Account signup is free, and once your account is created, you will be able to browse available supplies by supply type.
Once a supply type is selected, UPS will send you to a landing page with a list of all of the options available for that specific supply type with descriptions and recommendations on how each option should be used. Supplies you can order include:
- Shipping labels, forms, and stickers
- Boxes and packaging
- Express envelopes
Where to find FedEx supplies
FedEx also requires a login and a nine-digit FedEx account number to order shipping supplies from their online store. Account creation is free, but you’ll need to have a credit card on file. For more information on creating those accounts, we recommend reaching out to FedEx directly.
If you’d rather grab your supplies in person, FedEx has FedEx Office and FedEx Authorized ShipCenters. These locations have shipping supplies for purchase and employees to help pack and ship your items.
Finding the best shipping rates for your small business
With shipping supplies and carrier options checked off your list, let’s discuss the potential savings on your shipping rates. No matter what product or products you choose to sell, you’ll need to compare shipping rates. Researching on your own means having to manually enter a package’s weight, dimensions, and other information on a variety of sites. But, our rate calculator allows you and your business to enter your shipment’s information and compare rates on the same screen, regardless of plan level.
The shipping solution for the small business owner
Speaking of plan levels, ShippingEasy has multiple plan levels available, including a Starter plan that’s perfect for new business owners. Merchants on the Starter plan can:
- Ship up to 25 shipments per month
- Have 1 user on their account
- Enjoy savings of up to 78% off UPS® Ground*
- Utilize the rate calculator
**Discounts off UPS daily rates. Rates are limited to shipping from the U.S. only. Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.
As long as the store integration* of your choice is supported in ShippingEasy, up to 3 marketplaces can be directly integrated into your Starter account. Eligible orders will also pull into your dashboard automatically, so they will appear on your order screen soon after they are placed. Some of the most popular store integrations we support are:
*We’ll go over these integrations in more detail in the next blog in our series.
If you’d prefer to use a carrier outside of USPS or UPS, you can integrate some of your personal carrier integrations with ShippingEasy. Once connected, the rates attached to your specific carrier accounts will show in ShippingEasy when creating labels. If those rates seem incorrect, we recommend reaching out to your carrier representative directly. These integrations will also be invoiced to you instead of automatically deducted from your One Balance account.
The dream of starting your small business can be a reality. Consolidate all of your carrier options and rates onto one screen and use the rate calculator in your ShippingEasy account instead of bouncing from tab to tab. Start your shipping supply collection now, so you can quickly package your orders when they start coming in. Most importantly, sign up for your ShippingEasy account if you haven’t already and start your 30-day free trial. Stay tuned for the next installment in our series, Shipping 201, where we’ll guide you through the next steps in establishing your small business. Class dismissed.
How do I calculate shipping costs?
ShippingEasy merchants have access to our rate calculator with any plan level. For non-ShippingEasy merchants or for packages that can’t be shipped through ShippingEasy, we recommend reaching out to your carrier directly.
Which type of packaging should I use for shipping?
The type of packaging will depend on the service and/or carrier selected and the items being shipped. For more guidance, check out our How to Ship a Package blog.
Is my plan automatically upgraded if I surpass 25 shipments?
If more than 25 shipments are sent through ShippingEasy during a 30-day timespan, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the Growth plan. Don’t worry, we’ll let you know if or when you’re approaching your threshold!
What are some basic shipping supplies I should purchase?
Some good starter supplies are packing/shipping tape, Kraft paper/newspaper/bubble wrap, and other wrapping papers for fragile items, scissors, and boxes/envelopes. If you plan to expand your business or shipping volumes, it’s definitely worth looking into items like thermal printers, scales, and barcode scanners.
What’s the difference between weight and dimensional weight?
The weight of your package is the weight shown on a scale while the volume of your package determines the dimensional weight. Whether or not you’re billed for the actual weight or the dimensional weight of your package will depend on the carrier and/or service.