Flat rate shipping is becoming a buzzword that has the whole industry talking. But what exactly does it mean, and how can you make best use of flat rate shipping in your business? Here at P2Pseller we believe that information is king. This means that if we can inform you about the basics of flat rate shipping, both domestic and international, that will give you the tools you need to succeed in a competitive market. Read on to discover some basics about shipping that can only help you going forward.
Flat rate shipping is exactly what it says on the tin- shipping at a flat rate. The most popular form is flat-rate boxes offered by many major couriers such as USPS, where so long as your item fits inside the box, it ships for a single flat rate no matter its weight. This can be an incredible boon for merchants selling heavier or denser products, such as jewelry, electronics, or anything made out of metal or wood. Merchants selling lighter products like those made from fabric, paper, or light plastic may want to double-check to make sure they’re not paying more for a flat-rate box when a mailer calculated regularly would ship for cheaper.
In this day and age, if you want to know how much it is to send a package, the simplest way to find out is to quickly check the website of your preferred courier partner. These sites will inevitably contain no end of shipping rate tables to help you determine how much you’re likely to spend on an individual package, and some sites even have tables for multiple packages at a time. This means that you don’t have to spend valuable time and energy sitting in front of a computer screen, calculator in hand, doing complicated forms of addition and multiplication.
Not only will most couriers’ sites have tables for domestic delivery, you’ll also typically see an international shipping calculator so you can make sure that you get the best deals possible when it comes to fulfilling for your international customers. Be aware that many delivery companies will provide better rates to business customers who ship packages with them again and again. This means that it may be more cost effective to pick one company and stick with it as opposed to jumping around to whomever has the cheapest rates at the time. These companies may even be able to provide shipping labels and other packing materials for you without too much hassle or extra cost. However, there are arguments for both approaches, so you’re free to run the numbers yourself and see which is best for you.
It depends on the courier, as well as other metrics such as weight, dimensions, and whether it needs to be treated as a fragile or dangerous material. Domestically USPS will often have the best rates, especially for simple letters and flat mailers. Once you get into larger packages, though, things begin to get a bit more tricky. Packages under one pound start from just under 3 dollars at USPS, and start from 7 for over a pound. But this of course all depends on whether you’re electing for priority mail, first class mail, media mail, or retail ground mail. Commercial rates for priority mail express start at almost $23 a package (!) but come with up to $100 in insurance. Normal commercial rates for priority mail will run you a far more reasonable $7.16, and comes with $50 in coverage.
UPS offers multiple flat-rate shipping items for ecommerce merchants, which can be an excellent convenient choice if you don’t feel like spending time calculating and generating multiple types of shipping labels. UPS will charge 7-14 dollars for small-ish items such as t-shirts or books. Large items, however, can start at $23 and climb upwards for merchandise that’s particularly large or unwieldy. FedEx also provides a number of flat-rate options. To mail a stack of papers or something similarly flat, the charge will be just under $9. Packages large enough to fit a few books, on the other hand, will run you anywhere from ten dollars. If you have an extra-large box to ship, meanwhile, that will cost you in the low 30s. This represents a large diversity in shipping fee rates between the carriers, which naturally will have a strong effect on your bottom line.
International ecommerce strategy is both somehow more and less difficult than the average merchant might expect. Yes, there are a number of pitfalls, such as dealing with VAT, import fees, and no end of paperwork. There’s a number of troubles that might be discounted by the average seller that can compound into big issues in the blink of an eye. How does one offer consistent two-day shipping, for example, when cross-border shipping and delivery times can be so unpredictable? The Covid-19 pandemic has only made these issues more present and difficult to avoid than ever before. Unfortunately it’s difficult to offer a hard-and-fast answer about how much international shipping costs, as these prices are constantly changing in accordance with exchange rates, oil prices, and other indicators. By shipping all your business through a single carrier, though, you’re likely to be able to nab a considerable discount for your cross-border shipments.
The average price per pound is $1.35, but this depends strongly on location, the type of delivery selected, and whether it’s being transported at personal, commercial, or freight rates. A freight cost calculator will quote far lower prices than USPS for instance, because international marine transportation is far more efficient and involves far fewer fuel and personnel costs than traditional ground or air transport. As a result, your average freight container shipping cost calculator is likely to quote a price of only a few dollars per kilogram.
Not only is marine transport cheaper than other forms of carrying merchandise from point A to point B, current studies suggest that it’s far more environmentally friendly as well. Indeed, first and last mile transport makes up the vast majority of fuel emissions to begin with, but even ignoring that, it simply costs a lot less to sail a boat over the sea and take advantage of ocean currents than it does to drive large trucks or fly an airplane.
The cost it requires to get your products onto the doorstep and into the hands of your end customer is highly variable depending on the size, weight, and dimensions of the item in question, as well as the distance you need to send it and any relevant exchange rates. The major three courier companies all offer different prices and flat-rate options, but for sheer efficiency of price it’s difficult to beat marine freight. All of this can be quite confusing to wrap your brain around, especially if you’re new to the world of ecommerce fulfillment. Luckily, P2Pseller has your back. Instead of leaving you to flounder, we offer a number of calculators and even the use of our own business account so you can get better rates than you might be able to get going to these courier companies as an individual. We’re ecstatic to help you smash sales goals and grow your business bigger than ever before. Register a free account with us today to browse the full measure of our offerings without any commitment required on your end. We’ll see you there!