Mastering Shipping: A Guide for Small Businesses

Small Business Shipping Guide

Posted on:
Mar 31, 2022

The number of consumers relying on online shopping is growing by the day. In fact, 76% of American adults shop online, and 57% shop online at least once a month. It’s safe to say e-commerce is growing massively in popularity.

Online consumers are increasingly looking for free shipping. Unfortunately, not all small businesses can afford to offer this option. When calculating shipping costs, shippers need to consider package dimensions and weight, shipping origin and destination, packaging, insurance, and fuel surcharges. Because of this, most small businesses settle with expensive parcel shipping methods.

Aside from affordable shipping methods that convert customers, small businesses need to look into streamlining their shipping strategies to enhance fulfillment speed and improve customer service. In this article, find out how to get in touch with reliable and affordable shipping vendors for your small business.

How do small businesses start shipping?

Most small businesses start shipping with popular parcel delivery companies, like FedEx, USPS, and UPS, because they’re fast, secure, and convenient. Shippers need to have their packages weighed and measured before they’re placed in the provided company packaging for most parcel shipping companies. Parcel companies can also offer expedited shipping and special handling options. If your small business currently sells a small volume of products, parcel shipping may be a good option.

However, parcel shipping isn’t a great option for businesses that want to scale up. If your business starts to ship large quantities of orders regularly, it may be a good idea to start looking into other shipping methods and companies.

Small businesses will usually scale their shipping strategies with dropshipping and less-than-truckload (LTL). If your business grows astronomically and you’re starting to receive large orders, you should consider full truckload (FTL) shipping options.

How to choose the right shipping vendor

Shipping schedule

Customers look for the quality and reliability of products and services. When you ship out orders, it’s crucial to stay on top of product inventory and the frequency of orders to ensure smooth-sailing shipping operations. Then, confirm the shipping schedules of multiple shipping companies to ensure that they meet your needs.

Shipping volume

When looking at shipping volume, shippers need to consider the size of the delivery and the total quantity of products that will be shipped. Shippers should consider if they have enough space for inventory. Most small businesses don’t have the luxury of having large warehouses, so dropshipping may be a good option.

In dropshipping, retailers send customer requests to wholesalers or manufacturers that fulfill orders from a warehouse. Dropshipping relieves you from the burden of manufacturing and delivery.


Most shipping companies follow a dimensional pricing scheme, meaning shipping costs depend on package dimensions and weight. Good shipping companies encourage packaging that is safe and optimizes its price-density ratio. Other shipping companies will also offer various packaging options, such as insulation and eco-friendly alternatives.


Small businesses that work with other small businesses can look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship. If you own a small business and would like to scale your shipping strategies, you can start by looking for suppliers and drop-shippers located near your customer base; this reduces delivery costs and ensures more efficient operations.

Tracking and analytics

As mentioned, online shoppers look for reliability and quality of services. Technology, including package tracking and data analytics, has helped improve the shipping process and customer service.

Package tracking gives customers accurate and real-time updates of their orders, making shipping companies liable for damage, delays, and errors. Increased surveillance also helps small businesses to report damaged or incorrect shipments.


Guarantees give customers peace of mind that businesses will follow through with their promises, such as “Receive-by” dates to prove business consistency and reliability.

More importantly, guarantees assure consumers of good customer service. When a problem with shipping and packaging happens, businesses will own up to the mistake and provide solutions that will satisfy the customer.

Customer support

Consistent customer technical and information support is critical for online shopping. It’s only natural that customers want to know about the status of their order. People also may have questions about the shipping process and want answers before completing a purchase. Small businesses need to look for responsive shipping partners that are easy to contact through various methods, including email, phone, and social media.

How Much Do Shipping Companies Cost?

Shipping rates will depend on the company’s pricing scheme, but most vendors charge at least $8-$10 for ground shipments. Express shipments cost $40 or more. However, several factors come into play when it comes to calculating shipping costs, including:

  • Shipping origin and destination: Most companies base shipping fees on shipping zones. The further away you send a package, the more expensive it will be.
  • Dimensional weight or package weight: Smaller couriers compute shipping fees based on weight, but other larger carriers calculate dimensional weight, which considers the length, width, and height of the package. Shippers need to check which option is more affordable for specific shipments.
  • Fuel surcharges: Additional charges typically apply to specialized or expedited shipments, like overnight or same-day delivery. Check if the shipping company offers the type of services you need.
  • Freight class: Freight class is determined by multiple factors such as dimensions, density, liability, value, and ease of handling. The more valuable and difficult a package is to ship, the more expensive the shipping rates.

What is the cheapest shipping method?

The secret to finding the most affordable shipping method is to compare the rates of multiple vendors. A multi-vendor approach to your shipping strategies will ensure that you get the best rates for every type and quantity of shipment.

Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have the time and resources to do thorough research on shipping. An online freight marketplace like will help you easily compare quotations from multiple companies. The self-service platform makes it easy to book shipping services without having to talk to a broker. All you need to do is enter your shipment details on the 24/7 online calculator, and you’ll receive quotations from the best US shipping companies near you.

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