Shipping 101: A New Small Business Owner’s Guide to Shipping
Most Commonly Used ServicesWhen starting your business, one of the first steps is deciding how you’ll ship your incoming orders. In addition to finding your shipping supplies, you’ll need to find which carrier works best with your shipping needs. The three most commonly used carriers are USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Selecting the right carrier service for your new business can depend on several factors, including your shipment’s dimensions, when the package needs to arrive, and the distance your shipment is traveling. On top of choosing a carrier, you’ll also need to select the service level. We’ve included some of the most commonly used services for USPS, UPS, and FedEx below.
Looking for more information on carrier services? Check out our blog, The Cheapest Shipping Options for USPS, UPS, and FedEx!
USPS Priority MailOne of the most commonly used USPS services is Priority Mail. Priority Mail provides you with tracking information for your package and usually provides a 1-3 day delivery time, with the exception of non-business days and holidays. More benefits of Priority Mail include:
- Weight allowance of up to 70 pounds
- Up to $50 of insurance for eligible shipments
- Meeting the qualifications for USPS shipment pickup service
- Measurement allowance of up to 108,” between the length and girth
UPS GroundUPS Ground is a commonly-used UPS service that provides a 1-5 delivery service window. This service provides tracking for your package and can be used with any package type. More benefits of UPS Ground include:
- An option for signature confirmation
- Multiple delivery attempts by UPS
- Domestic delivery options to all 50 states and Puerto Rico
- Package intercept options
FedEx GroundFedEx 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 pounds
- 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
Where to Find Shipping SuppliesOnce you start deciding which carrier services are best for your business, it’s important to have your shipping supplies at the ready. We’ve created a basic list of shipping supplies to have handy when beginning your shipping process:
- Clear tape
- Kraft paper, newspaper, and other paper products for wrapping fragile items
- Shipping box, a few inches bigger than your product
- Thank you notes for your customers
Where to find USPS suppliesUSPS offers online supply ordering so that you can have supplies shipped directly to your home or business. USPS offers online supply ordering so that you can have supplies shipped directly to your home or business. The benefits of online supply ordering are:
- Supplies from labels to add to your fragile shipments to sets of 25 large Priority Mail boxes available
- Many of the supplies are free
- Site filters to organize supplies by prices and service
Where to find UPS suppliesLike USPS, UPS also offers online supply ordering. However, unlike USPS, UPS currently doesn’t have an option to checkout as a guest, so you will have to create a UPS account to move forward with ordering. 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 with recommendations on how each option should be used.
Where to find FedEx suppliesSimilar to UPS, FedEx requires a login to order shipping supplies from their online store. However, you will also need an actual nine-digit FedEx account as well. This account creation is free, but you will need to have a credit card on file. For more information on creating those accounts, we recommend reaching out to FedEx directly. If you would rather grab your supplies in person, FedEx has FedEx Office and FedEx Authorized ShipCenters. These locations include:
- Shipping supplies for purchase
- Employees to help pack and ship your items
Finding the Best Shipping Rates for Your OrdersNow that you have your shipping supplies and an idea of some of the most commonly used carrier services, let’s discuss your potential savings on your shipping rates. No matter what product or products you choose to sell to your customers, it’s important to compare shipping rates to find savings. While researching on your own can take a lot of time having to enter your package's weight, dimensions, and other information, ShippingEasy can help! With our user-friendly rate calculator and discounts, you’ll be able to put more time and money back into your brand-new business. ShippingEasy has multiple plan levels available, including a $5 Starter Plan, perfect for new business owners. This plan allows businesses to access discounted rates for both USPS and UPS, savings that will cover the cost of signing up in only a couple of shipments. We’ve included a couple of examples below to show those savings in action.
USPS Commercial Rates vs Retail RatesUSPS’s Priority Mail is one of the most commonly used services by small businesses, and ShippingEasy provides Commercial rates to all users, which means you don’t have to negotiate with USPS. For example, a Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box with Retail rates had an estimated shipping cost of $16.10. However, a Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box with Commercial rates has an estimated shipping cost of $14.25. Not only is Priority Mail one of the most utilized USPS services because it’s a cheaper option that provides you with tracking information for your shipments, but the Commercial rates provided for this service definitely make it a good option for your business.
UPS One BalanceUPS One Balance is a ShippingEasy feature that offers discounts up to 55% off UPS Ground shipments, and these discounts can definitely add up! For example, a three-pound UPS Ground shipment traveling from zip code 78704 to 79423 shows as $13.16 from UPS normally: However, with ShippingEasy’s UPS One Balance, it’s quoted as $8.88: This may just be the initial quote, but there’s still the potential to save almost $5, and those savings will add up with every order.
Other ShippingEasy Account BenefitsIn addition to those commercial rates and UPS One Balance discounts, our $5 Starter plan includes unlimited store and carrier integrations. These will be especially helpful once you’ve gathered your shipping supplies and learned more about carriers and services. This means your discounts and integrations will be organized in one central location, keeping your orders safe and sound.
Store IntegrationsAs long as the store integration* of your choice is supported in ShippingEasy, those marketplaces can be directly integrated into your account. Your orders will also pull in automatically, so they will appear on your order screen soon after they are placed. Some of the most popular store integrations we support include: *We’ll go over these integrations in more detail in the next blog in our series.
Carrier IntegrationsIf you’d prefer to use a carrier outside of those ShippingEasy automatically connects to, our software also allows for certain carrier integrations. Once connected, the rates attached to your specific carrier accounts will show in ShippingEasy when creating labels. If those rates seem to be incorrect, we recommend reaching out to your carrier representative directly. These integrations will also be invoiced to you instead of automatically deducted from your account such as with the USPS and UPS One Balance costs.
Other Starter Plan FeaturesIn addition to the unlimited store and carrier integrations, our Starter plan allows includes:
- A 50 package monthly shipping volume
- USPS Commercial rates
- UPS One Balance discounted rates
- Prepaid Return Labels
- Email Support
ConclusionThe idea of starting your own business can be overwhelming, but we can help! We started by finding your shipping supplies, so you are prepared for those orders that come in. We researched carrier and service options, including the most commonly used options. Now it’s time to sign up for your ShippingEasy Starter account so that all of your carriers and stores can be centralized in one place. Learn more in 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?
- For ShippingEasy users, we have a rate calculator available. For non-ShippingEasy users or for packages that cannot 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 not only depend on the service and carrier selected, but it is dependent on what is being shipped. For more guidance, check out our How to Ship a Package blog.
- Is my plan automatically upgraded if I surpass 50 shipments?
- Yes, if more than 50 shipments are sent through ShippingEasy during a 30-day timespan, you will be automatically upgraded to the Basic plan. We’ll let you know when you’re approaching that threshold.
- What are some basic supplies I should purchase?
- Some good starter supplies would be packing/shipping tape, Kraft paper/newspaper/bubble wrap and other wrapping papers for fragile items, scissors, and boxes/envelopes that fit your shipping needs. 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 is the difference between weight and dimensional weight?
- The weight of your package is the weight shown on a scale while the dimensional weight is determined through a variation of the volume of your package. The weight you are charged for can be the larger of the two weights, depending on the service and/or carrier.
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