Shipping heavy items cheaply and efficiently: a how-to

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
May 24, 2022
4 min read
Shipping heavy items cheaply and efficiently: a how-to

Cheap shipping rates are something that ecommerce sellers are always on the hunt for, and for good reason. Finding the cheapest way to ship something can make the difference between barely being able to keep up with the costs of doing business and making a healthy profit. Thankfully, more and more courier partners are doing their best to entice customers by offering deals. Flat-rate mailing is at an all time high, with the three major US shipping companies, USPS, UPS, and FedEx, all offering some system where anything that fits within one of their standardized boxes qualifies for the same flat price.

This is all very well and good for smaller, lightweight items such as books, articles of clothing, or small electronics. But what about shipping large items across country borders or even domestically? Large item shipping can involve a number of problems and complications that simply aren’t considered when dealing with their smaller counterparts. The difficulty involved in dealing with things that are heavy or unwieldy translates into a bigger bill for you at the end of the day. If you’re curious about how to ship heavy items the right way, or expect to have to deal with this question in the future, read on for a few tips, tricks, and best practices from someone who’s been in the game for a little while.

So, how to ship large items without breaking the bank?

You may think that you have no choice but to pay through the nose for shipping large boxes. After all, the media mail weight limit is far too small for your purposes, and you doubt you can get it delivered through carrier pigeon in this day and age. Thankfully, there are a number of unexpected solutions that you might want to consider. First of all, if you’re sending items in bulk, cheap freight shipping costs a fraction of the price as first class mail and can be insured for only a fraction of the cost. This means that if anything is damaged or lost in transit, you have recourse to be reimbursed. Freight shipments can operate with fewer boxes than you might think, as well, thanks to the use of LTL (or less than truckload) shipments.

But what if I have just a few or even only one heavy box?

If you’re just starting out, or have only a few products in your inventory that are large enough to demand special consideration, the best way shipping can proceed is by shopping around with courier companies to see which ones have the best rates. It can often be worthwhile to maintain a commercial account with just one company, as frequent customers can get excellent deals and negotiate rates that one-off customers don’t have access to. On the other hand, other merchants enjoy the flexibility and convenience of being able to select whichever courier service has the better deals at any particular time.

How much can I expect to pay?

It depends not only on the weight of the package, but occasionally on how far you need to send it. If you need to ship boxes to another state or even another country, that might cost a decent amount more than it would if you only needed to send it two towns over. If you can reduce the number of zones your package has to travel across, that makes a measurable difference in the price you’ll need to pay.

Rates can vary significantly between the three major players. USPS offers very competitive rates for any package under 70 pounds. FedEx has commercial discounts with a similar 70 pound weight limit. UPS, on the other hand, has a heavier limit, accepting packages that weigh more than twice as much up to 150 pounds.

Where do I find big boxes for shipping?

Although you technically can reuse boxes from large items such as refrigerators or furniture, it’s not really an ideal solution. First of all, you personally as a seller aren’t likely to have enough appliance boxes lying around to be useful. Second of all, when you’re shipping heavy items, it’s important to have an especially solid, sturdy box to send them in. This prevents the items from shifting or ripping through their container and somehow becoming damaged- or damaging anything else. You can, of course, save money by palletizing items and sending them in bulk, which is an excellent solution for high-volume shippers. If you’re just starting out, however, you may not want to pay for a pallet for just a few boxes. The best option is to consult closely with professionals. Your fulfillment or courier partner is likely to have far more in-depth advice on exactly how you should take the best possible care of your merchandise, and may even offer a set of guidelines to follow.

In conclusion

Overweight, large packages can be a hassle for even experienced merchants to get a handle on. They’re simply more expensive and take longer to deliver than boxes of a more traditional size. This doesn’t mean that they’re impossible or even overly difficult to deal with, however. With a little bit of research and preparation, you can go from zero to hero and make every part of the fulfillment process of your oversized products as efficient as humanly possible.

But how do you find professionals who are equipped to handle these kinds of products? It’s simple. P2Pseller offers an open, democratized marketplace chock full of experienced partners who can help you grow your business bigger and better than ever before. Register a free account with us today to browse our offerings without any need for commitment on your end. Zero stress, zero phone calls, zero hidden fees, and all prices up front. We’re ecstatic for you to join the ecommerce revolution and to build a business that’s truly awesome.


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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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