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Small Business Shipping Tips: Best Shipping Companies & How to Cut Shipping Costs

April 13th, 2023      By Jeff Brandt

When it comes to enhancing your small business, partnering with the ideal shipping company is essential.

The best shipping company for small business models is one with affordable costs and good shipping speeds. Particularly important for newer and small business models, keeping costs low and deliveries timely is essential to maintaining and building customer loyalty – something that can only be achieved with the finest shipping methods for small businesses.

If you’re a new business wondering how to ship packages for small business types or are exploring small business delivery options, we are breaking down everything you need to know to maintain affordable shipping methods. Let’s dive right in!

What Factors Affect the Shipping Costs?

best shipping company for small business

Before designating your shipping rates and methods for your business, there are several factors to consider in advance. From the packaging materials to the speed of shipping and the weight and dimensions of your products, here are some elements to consider when shipping products for small business models.

Packaging Materials

When exploring shipping options for small business success, packaging materials are one of the first things to account for. For online stores, there are a number of different packing supplies to keep in mind to ensure your goods arrive in good condition. If a package is lost or damaged, this will make a bad impression on your customers – something every business wants to avoid.

When calculating your fees, consider the cost of materials, including:

  • Boxes, tape, packaging, and stickers.
  • The labor involved in sending the items.
  • Courier costs for collecting and delivering packages.
  • Import/export fees if shipping internationally.

For eCommerce stores, it’s beneficial to disclose your shipping costs on your website, sharing with customers where the added charge comes from.

Service & Shipping Speed

best shipping options for small business

Another consideration when exploring shipping companies for small business models is the service and speed.

Thanks to businesses like Amazon, customers today are expecting a shorter delivery time than ever before. And not only that, but they expect it to be free.

While this is a great model for consumers, businesses must keep in mind that the more you expedite shipping, the higher the shipping rate will be. In addition, carriers have many services that can impact your cost, and there’s not one ideal choice for everyone.

When shipping a product, ask yourself:

  • When does the package need to arrive?
  • Is a delivery commitment or guaranteed delivery required?
  • Is tracking necessary?
  • Is the recipient’s address residential or commercial?
  • Is a signature or add-on service required?
  • Are you shipping alcohol, hazardous materials, or any specialized items?

With knowledge of what you’re shipping and the added costs or requirements that come with it, you can better estimate your total shipping costs.

Weight & Dimensions of the Package

shipping options for small business

No matter what you deem to be the best shipping solution for small business models, larger and heavier items will incur a higher cost to ship.

While different carriers and services have various restrictions, rating methods, and requirements, everyone calculates the shipping cost based on the weight and dimensions of the package.

Most commonly used, FedEx, USPS, and UPS charge based on dimensional weight (DIM) for their shipping. DIM is based on the package size as opposed to the actual weight, so you can be charged more for light, large packages than smaller, heavier ones.

To ensure you get the best rate, be sure you always enter your package dimensions accurately. The DIM can be found by calculating (length x width x height) / divisor. With this in mind, the higher the divisor, the lower your shipping rate. Let’s break it down:

  • UPS: LxWxH / 139
  • FedEx: LxWxH / 139
  • USPS: LxWxH / 166 (cheapest option)

Additionally, all major carriers offer a form of standardized, flat-rate shipping. For USPS and UPS, the flat rate boxes permit up to 70 lbs in weight. For FedEx, it goes up to 50 lbs. This is ideal for shipping a small, heavy parcel.

Shipping Distance

The last thing to consider when looking for the best shipping options for small business needs is the shipping distance.

All carriers base their domestic rates on zones, with the most common zone systems being USPS, but UPS and FedEx also measure distance based on this zone design.

Finding your zone for your ship-from location for various carriers can be a challenge, but using a multi-carrier rate calculator can save you a lot of time.

If you’re shipping internationally, keep in mind:

  • Confirm product shipability: There are some items that cannot enter particular countries, such as playing cards in Brazil.
  • Additional taxes, duties, and documentation: Shipping internationally isn’t as simple as shipping nationally and can incur added charges or requirements, including duties, tariffs, and customs declarations to permit the shipment to enter a country.
  • Update your shipping policy and pricing: With added costs and considerations, selling internationally should incur a higher shipping price for those customers. For this reason, you’ll need a separate shipping estimate for international customers.

How to Reduce Shipping Costs for Small Businesses?

best shipping rates for small business

To help your business make the most on each order, reducing shipping costs is a must. To help you save a little money on costs, here are some ways to lower your shipping rates for your business.

Choose the Proper Size Packaging

When cutting shipping costs, one of the first things you can look into is changing your packaging.

While it’s easy to opt for packaging that’s a bit bigger than what you’re sending, you want to ensure it’s not unnecessarily roomy for your products. Since carriers charge based on the size of the package and the weight, opting for smaller, lighter packaging can help reduce your costs over time.

To start this, do some research on the packaging options to help you save money. In addition, some carriers, like USPS, offer packaging of various sizes for free when you pay for shipping under specific mailing classes. This can also help you save costs in the long run, especially if you know just what size packages you need for your goods.

Start the saving process by carefully measuring your products, and considering what sizes will work best to ship them. Additionally, factor in if you ship multiples, versus just one item.

Reduce the Weight of Your Packages

Similar to reducing your package size, the weight of your packages is also increasing your shipping costs.

While lowering the weight of your packages may only give you a bit of change per package, this can add up greatly over time, especially as your customer base grows. To help reduce costs due to weight, consider:

  • Packaging products in corrugated boxes: These types of boxes are stronger and lighter than regular cardboard boxes. With rows of small air-filled grooves between the inner and outer layers of the box, they provide lighter protection for your items.
  • Use lightweight packing materials: There is a vast range of packing materials to choose from, yet air pillows, packing paper, bubble products, foam inserts, Versa Pak wadding rolls, and excelsior are likely the lightest available. Ideally, you want to keep items packed tight, yet without adding weight.
  • Design a custom shipping package: While designing your own packaging may take time, matching the exact shape and size of your items will limit packing materials, and ultimately, the weight, too.

Use Flat-Rate Shipping

When exploring the best way to ship products for small business needs, opting for flat-rate shipping is often the answer.

Rates are constantly changing and increasing at the various shipping carriers and can lead to unpredictable estimates for your business. With many incurring sales hikes, online brands are sometimes better off with flat-rate shipping to decrease costs.

With flat-rate shipping, shipping costs are offered at a single rate, no matter the weight, shape, or size of the item. This helps ensure you have fixed costs, helping you plan for exactly how much your shipments will cost, without worrying about fluctuating rates.

Use Local Pickup & Delivery

shipping companies for small businesses

Sometimes, the best shipping rates for small business models are found locally.

One way to reduce your costs is to avoid carriers altogether. Recently, more independent businesses have been turning to local delivery, as many have customers that are based locally. With local delivery and pickup options, shipping costs are immediately slashed.

Additionally, local delivery helps:

  • Connect with the local community.
  • Improve the customer experience by avoiding delays and added costs.
  • Increases sales, as cart sizes typically increase by 25%.

What Is the Best Shipping Service for Small Businesses?

Now that we understand the ins and outs of shipping, what’s the best mailing service for small business models? While USPS, FedEx, and UPS alike all offer programs for small businesses, there are some variations in their offerings to look at. Let’s break it down.


For USPS Small Business, the offerings include:

  • Click-N-Ship: Allows you to pay postage and print labels online.
  • Home Pickup: Easily schedule and ship parcels without leaving your home.
  • Free Priority-Mail Starter Kit: By filling out a form about your business and connecting with a USPS Business Solutions agent, you can receive a free shipping kit.
  • Every Door Direct Mail Advertising: Allows small business owners to market to their target audience through direct mail. All that’s required is to fill out a form about your advertising efforts and request a free kit.
  • Reserve a PO Box: Keep business mail separate, opting for a PO box dedicated to your company mail.


how to ship packages for small business

For FedEx Small Business, the features include:

  • Reward System: My FedEx Rewards are available to gain rewards the more you ship.
  • Packaging Help: By visiting a FedEx Packaging Help Hub, you can explore FAQs, calculate your dimensional weight, and learn more about the common packaging terminology.
  • Schedule Pickups: Schedule and manage your pickup schedule directly from your home.
  • Postcard Printing: FedEx offers custom postcard printing, as well as coupons, to include in your shipments.
  • Temperature Controls: For shipping food, beverages, flowers, and other materials, FedEx offers temperature-controlled options for cold or heated needs.


Lastly, UPS Small Business offers a variety of amenities, including:

  • Business Discounts: Get business discounts for certain services, including accountants, marketing, and employee background screening.
  • UPS Connect: Offers free brainstorming sessions on your business plan and shipping needs.
  • Manage Finances: UPS financial and payment services help manage and allocate costs of shipping with UPS.
  • Schedule Pickups: Easily schedule pickups on the UPS site.
  • UPS Returns: Track and manage inventory and logistics carefully with the UPS system.


Whether you opt for USPS, UPS, FedEx, or local delivery solutions, the best mailing for small business needs depends on what you’re shipping and your own budget requirements. However, with the proper packaging and weight management, you can help keep your costs low to boost your margins over time.

For more information on everything from the lightest packaging to the most heavy-duty boxes, our packing solutions provider company is here to assist. To begin, explore our solutions online today.

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