Below is a list of the three primary cost considerations for ecommerce retailers when it comes to packing and shipping customer orders.
- Packing Supplies. These costs include the dunnage (or packing material) to fill in and around to protect the product, as well as the cost for the cardboard carton the goods are placed into. Basic shipping supplies and cartons from UPS, FedEx, and USPS are free, as is the logistics software they will provide - so that is one thing to take advantage of when you can. Of course shipping a lot of empty space in a bad fitting carton is a poor choice for a number of reasons. Your business may also prefer to brand packaging with a company logo and not a big UPS label! The additional cost of customized packaging has to be considered.
- Direct Shipment Costs. The choice of who ships the order (whether it is USPS, UPS, Fed Ex) and at what service level (Ground, Next Day Air, etc.) impact costs often more than any other single item. Shipping Ground Service instead of Next Day Air can often save over 2/3 off the shipping cost. Of course it can also add 4 or more days on to the delivery time. Volume means a lot when it comes to shipping with FedEx and UPS, so make sure your contract stipulates that discounts on shipping will kick in once you hit certain volume thresholds. There is a "hybrid" option in which a shipping company (such as FedEx or DHL Globalmail, or various others) acts as a mail integration partner. These companies will pick the packages up on their own trucks but then move the parcels to the USPS who make the final delivery to the consumer. This set up works only in a business to consumer model and generally requires a minimum daily amount of parcels (typically 250 per day).
- TIME. Is packing up customer orders in cartons, maintaining space for storage, and printing shipping labels the best use of your time? As a small business owner you should be asking yourself constantly throughout the day - Is what I am doing right now helping to make my business more successful? Managing your social media logistics presence, marketing, or selling are all important priorities. Chances are you could make better use of your time than doing your own order fulfillment.