Postage and shipping costs are a significant expense for many small businesses. While mailing a letter or two isn’t going to break your budget, if you send out hundreds of letters a month or ship products to your customers, your shipping and postage costs can take a chunk out of your bottom line. Here are 17 ways to cut your mailing and shipping costs and get more mileage out of the money you do spend on mail and shipping.
If you do much mailing, the US postage and shipping rates take a big bite out of your small business’s budget each year. That bite will get even bigger on January 24, 2021, when new postage rates will go into effect. Although the cost for a first-class stamp remains the same at 55 cents, each additional ounce is going up to 20 cents, an increase of 5 cents, and the fee for metered letters is increasing 1 cent to 51 cents. Priority Mail service is increasing by approximately 3.5%, according to the, and Priority Mail Express, 1.2%.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit by keeping their mailing and shipping charges as low as possible. The tips below will help find ways to communicate and market to your customers and deliver goods on time but at less cost.
17 Ways to Minimize Mailing and Shipping Costs
- Avoid sending documents by US mail. Use email instead. If your customer agrees, consider sending invoices, proposals, presentations, contract terms, and even signed documents via email. (Many office printers can scan documents and save to PDF format. So to send a signed document just print it, sign it scan it, save it to a PDF format, and send it as an email attachment.
- Get a scale. Weigh each piece of mail to determine the exact amount of postage for each piece you mail, then use the exact amount of postage required. If you use stamps, keep stamps in several denominations on hand.
- Watch out for dimensional price differences when shipping boxes. Shipping costs for packages are determined by the weight, the size of the box, and the destination. From time to time with the Postal Service to other shippers, and also look to see if you could save by shipping in a different-sized box.
- Use metered mail or print postage online. You save a small amount of money on each item you mail when you use online postage sites like Stamps.com or use metered mail.
- Pay your bills and invoices online. Instead of printings out checks and mailing them, pay as many bills and invoices online as possible. You’ll save two ways: You’ll reduce the number of checks you’ll have to buy as well as saving the cost of postage for each bill you’d mail.
- If you’re mailing a document that weighs less than an ounce, fold it to fit in a standard business-size envelope instead of mailing it flat. Postage for the business size-envelope is significantly less than the postage for mailing the same document in a 9 x 12 envelope.
- When you do send invoices by mail or ship merchandise to customers, insert ads and promotions for other products and services you sell. The ad gets to ride along for free as long as the weight of the paper it’s printed on doesn’t bump the cost of the mailing into the next rate range.
- Use standard-sized envelopes and postcards. You’ll be charged extra postage for odd-sizes.
- If your designer suggests very heavy stock for a mailing, get a sample of the paper and envelope you’d mail and weigh it and find out what it will cost to mail the piece. If the weight of the document increases postage, ask the designer to choose a lighter weight alternative.
- Send a postcard instead of a letter. Sending a standard-size postcard first-class saves about 30% over the cost of sending a first-class letter.
- While you’re sending emails to customers, include a PS at the end of the email with an advertising promotion and link to your website or a phone number to call. For example, “PS I thought you might want to know about the special we’re running this week on green and blue widgets.”
- Use bulk mail if you regularly mail quantities of letters. Bulk mail is a term the Post Office uses for both first-class and advertising mail that is sent in bulk quantities. Items sent as bulk mail require a permit and cost less per piece to mail. Check with your local postmaster to find out about costs and mail preparation requirements to determine if getting your own permit is practical for your business, or if it would be economical to use a third party mailing service to prepare and send your bulk mail.
- Consider Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). EDDM is a relatively new service from the Post Office which can save small local businesses money if they want to mail to residents in their service area. What it does is allow you to send mail to every mailing location in an area you specify, which can be narrowed down to just a mail carrier’s route, if desired. A “retail” version of this service can be used without getting a mail permit. Read this step-by-step guide for using EDDM for more information, or talk to your local postmaster.
- Clean your house mailing lists to eliminate bad addresses and duplicates. When you mail to a bad address you lose the cost of the postage and the cost of the mailing piece
- Consider Priority Mail if you want to make an impact, but don’t have to have a document or package delivered overnight. Depending on the shipping location, Priority Mail may only cost a few pennies more than regular parcel rates.
- Save on boxes and mailing envelopes. If you plan to ship an item by priority mail, consider using the boxes and mailing envelopes provided by the Post Office and other shippers. They’re sturdy and free. One caveat: weigh those boxes and envelopes. In some cases the priority mailboxes are heavy enough to bump the mailing price up to the next level, making it more expensive to use the free box than it would be to purchase a box and ship priority mail.
- If you sell information products, offer a downloadable or cloud-based version of the product or training material at a reduced cost. You’ll save the postage and handling.