Reducing postage & packaging costs
For small items, Royal Mail undoubtedly offer the best postage costs. While they get a lot of bad press (and have a few archaic quirks) they actually provide one of the cheapest and most reliable postal services in Europe. For larger items it’s generally cheaper to use a courier service such as ParcelForce or DHL.
If you take the items in person, you’ll pay counter rates which can be very expensive, so look at getting an account (either direct, or via a franking machine). With couriers, it can also be worth shopping around online for a consolidation service such Parcel2Go.com who offer more competitive postal rates.
Thinking about weight
As a general guide, anything under 2kg is likely to be cheaper with Royal Mail than with a courier, unless you require it signed for or tracked. Since Royal Mail’s prices are weight based (both for counter service, franking machines and account holders) then reducing the packed weight can also provide some savings. For instance, some items that could go out in a small box, might be just as well protected by bubblewrap and a strong Jiffy bag. Even if the difference is only 40g, over 100’s of orders this can add up.
As an account holder with a courier company, postage costs are generally not based on weight, so this is less important for larger items than is for lighter ones.
Another option for reducing weight (and increase protection) is to use a lightweight void-fill. Those based on air are usually the best, though the equipment can be expensive (we don’t like loose fill chips or ‘peanuts’ as they make a mess when you pack, make a mess when the customer unpacks and aren’t too environmentally friendly). A small machine might cost around £1000, but will produced a ribbon of air filled bags from a roll. This means you can reduce your storage space too, as you only need to produce what you need for the day.
We use commercial machines - not only does it produce a lighter fill, but also reduces void fill costs by up to 50%.
While we all like to think our parcels are handled with the utmost care on their journey, there is always the chance of some rough treatment along the way. At Six, we recommend that any package should withstand a drop from 1m on to a concrete floor and so that’s what we pack to for our clients. Surprisingly the heavier the item, the more likely it is to be treated carefully - the lightweight packets that most people don’t think too much about getting beaten around the most in the mail system.
Sending a lot of the same thing?
If you’re regularly sending a lot of the same item, it’s probably worth getting a quote for custom sized packaging to fit your item. Many people don’t even consider this, but if you’re sending more than 200 units every few months, then the cost of a customised box can actually be less than a standard one as it’ll only use just the right about of board (prices of which have risen around 10% recently). It’ll also reduce the amount of time to pack and the amount of void fill required. We supply and store a number of custom packaging solutions for our clients.
Outsourcing to a fulfilment warehouse is another option for reducing postage costs. We have large accounts directly with Royal Mail and ParcelForce to get the very best rates for our clients, which can save a considerable amount of money - in many cases this is more than the order picking fee. If you’re looking to grow your business and would like more free time than outsourcing to a 3PL is an option worth considering.
Any questions or problems you’d like help?
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about postage and packaging costs or what we do then just ask it here in the forum, or you can contact us directly if you’d prefer at sixworks.co.uk. We deal with all manner of issues on a daily basis and hopefully can offer some advice.
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