How to Save Money When Shipping Products

Learn how to save money when shipping products while providing customers with a fantastic packaging presentation.

Inefficient shipping is one reason why businesses lose money. Brands dive head-first into product shipping without understanding how shipping works and what materials to use. This results in items getting damaged while in transit. It also harms the environment as unused products—especially unrecyclable ones— make their way to landfills.

Businesses also have to consider the impact that inefficient shipping has on their branding. They have to make sure that their customers have a positive shipping experience. Otherwise, they'll rub their customers the wrong way. It'll look like they don't care enough to ship their products correctly.

In today's post, you'll learn how to save money when shipping products while providing customers with a fantastic packaging presentation.

Understanding the Challenges

The first step to fully understanding product shipping is to go over the challenges you'll face as a brick-and-mortar or e-commerce business. Only then will you learn how to save money when shipping products.

Identifying Your Options

You need to determine all your options to keep shipping costs low while getting the best value for money. There are a lot of factors to consider including what type of packaging to use and which shipping method to use.

Packaging Options

Figure out what packaging to use, especially if you're not using third-party logistics. It's up to you to determine which type is most suitable for your product.

There are many factors to consider. You want a balanced weight. The size of your packaging should also be correct. More importantly, you need adequate protection.

When looking for packaging options, keep these in mind:

  • Customization — You want the ability to customize the size of your packaging to keep products secure during transport.
  • Branding — You want to be able to upload or create your own designs to keep branding consistent across all your marketing materials.
  • Sustainability — You want to use sustainable materials so customers can reuse or recycle your packaging afterward.

Shipping Aggregator Services

Shipping aggregator services work with different courier companies and put them in their database. Businesses can then use that database to find couriers that offer shipping at lower prices. 

Using a shipping aggregator service saves retailers from researching suppliers and negotiating for better pricing. There are shipping aggregator services that offer ways for businesses to integrate with their system for a more seamless experience.

Popular shipping aggregator services include and Pirateship.

Shipping aggregator services are convenient but they have downsides. 

These services aren't free. So even if you find amazing deals, the money you save might only go toward paying for these services. Some services can't scale up with you, especially those that only work with a handful of couriers. 

Try researching couriers manually first before working with a shipping aggregator to see if you can find cheap ones that meet your standards.

Shipping Methods

It's important to consider what shipping methods your customers prefer. The methods you offer customers can have an impact on your shipping budget.

For instance:

Customers might abandon their carts if you don't offer free shipping. But adding this option means increasing your prices or shouldering the costs. 

Other popular shipping methods include:

  • Standard Shipping — Customers receive their products within the week.
  • Expedited Shipping — Customers pay more to get their orders within 3 days.
  • Priority Shipping — Customers receive products within 2 days.
  • Next-Day Delivery — Customers receive their products the following day.
  • Same-Day Delivery — Customers receive their products the same day they order. This offer only works if the destination is close to your storage facility and customers place orders before the cut-off time.
  • International Shipping — Customers have their orders shipped to another country. This can be an expensive shipping method unless customers pay for shipping.

If you operate a brick-and-mortar shop, consider a store pickup option. It saves you and your customers from paying shipping fees.

Shipping methods aren't all about speed. Some customers are comfortable with longer turnaround times because of lower shipping costs. 

Third-Party Logistics Services

Third-party logistic (3PL) service providers help businesses with their shipping needs. Working with 3PLs means they handle inventory management, warehousing, and order fulfillment. All you do is make sure they always have your products in stock. 

This is an excellent option for e-commerce sites because it lets these businesses focus on marketing, customer service, and product development.

Using 3PL helps you save money because you won't need a large warehouse to store your products. You don't have to pay for warehouse staff either.


When customers place an order, 3PLs will pack and ship products on your behalf. 

Possible downsides include communication challenges, loss of control over shipping and handling, and system integration. 3PLs will charge a fee for their services. You'll have to weigh whether outsourcing your logistics is worth it. 

Developing a Shipping Budget

Developing a shipping budget is important because it affects your product pricing. You lose money if you end up undercharging for shipping. But it's crucial that you don't overcharge either or you won't be as competitive as other players in your category.

Factors that affect shipping include:

  • Package Weight and Size — Packages that weigh less are typically cheaper to ship.
  • Courier Fees — Couriers charge businesses to ship products.
  • Shipping Method — Businesses or customers can pay more to ship products faster.
  • Quantity of Items — Couriers can offer discounts for businesses that frequently use their services.
  • Product Type — Certain products cost more to ship. For example, perishables need to have cooling elements like dry ice.
  • Destination — Shipping products outside state lines or to international destinations will cost more.

Continuously monitor your shipping costs and try to bring them down. You can negotiate with couriers to get better rates. Experimenting with packaging options will help you control your budget from eating your profits.

Handling Different Shipment Quantities

You need to understand the logistics of shipping different order quantities. Small businesses can handle orders as they trickle in. However, shipping larger product quantities becomes a challenge as businesses scale. If you add more people to handle orders or begin working with 3PLs, your shipping costs will rise. 

In addition:

You'll have to order different packaging materials to accommodate different order quantities. Shipping boxes are great for bulk orders but you'll need smaller packaging such as mailer boxes or poly mailers for single-item purchases.

Setting Good Expectations for ROI

You won't see if your shipping strategy pays off right away. It'll take some time before you get a better sense of whether it's working or not. So you should give it time even if you don't feel like it's ineffective.

Key Insights and Strategies

Here are the things you need to know to save money when shipping products.

Designing the Unboxing Presentation

Saving money on shipping doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your presentation. A product unboxing can still be fun even if you're on a budget. All you need is a bit of imagination.

Your packaging design plays an essential role in keeping your packaging presentable. Make your boxes look extraordinary by using complementary colors. Add text and illustrations to engage customers. 

Mailer Boxes by The Wooden Hook Store
Mailer Boxes by The Wooden Hook Store

Use consistent designs if you're combining multiple box types. This gives your packaging a harmonious look that's pleasing to the eyes. 

Candle Boxes by WK Creative
Candle Boxes by WK Creative

Combining packaging materials can make your presentation even better. Sometimes, a simple mailer box and custom packaging tape are all you need to make your packaging stand out. 

Jewelry Packaging by Nikki Jewels
Jewelry Packaging by Nikki Jewels

Minimalist packaging also works. You can order affordable product boxes and use simple designs to make them stand out. 

Minimalist Boxes by Whipped Bath Co.
Minimalist Boxes by Whipped Bath Co.

You don't have to spend much to make your shipping packaging look great. A great design will impress customers and promote your brand.

Measuring the Contents

An accurate product measurement will save you from overpaying for packaging. Smaller packaging costs less and protects your products better during shipping. 

How do you measure products for packaging?

  1. Lay your product flat on a surface. 
  2. Get your product's measurements with a ruler or measuring tape.some text
    1. Get the length by measuring the longest side of your product.
    2. Get the width by measuring your product's shortest side from one end to another.
    3. Get the height by measuring the product from top to bottom. Height is also referred to as depth in some cases.
  3. List each measurement for reference.

Use these measurements when you order your custom boxes.

Key things to remember:

  • Consider any paperwork, instruction manuals, and other materials you intend to include in your packaging. You need to include those in your measurements to get the right fit.
  • Use packaging fillers to fill in any gaps, especially if your products have an odd shape. You'll need to factor fillers into your measurements if you're going to use stiffer ones like styrofoam.
  • Weight your products. This is information you could use to confirm that your packaging can support your product.

You should also calculate the volume of your box. This information will help couriers figure out the logistics of shipping your items. 

To get your volume, you only need to multiply the length, width, and height:

Length x Width x Height = Volume

If your measurements are in inches, your volume will be in cubic inches. 

Example: 12 in. x 12 in. x 25 in. = 3,600 cubic inches

Determining Appropriate Packaging Options

Here are some of the best packaging materials you can use to ship products without breaking the bank.

Poly Mailers
Custom Poly Mailer by Gia Design Co. 
Custom Poly Mailer by Gia Design Co. 

Poly Mailers are self-sealing pouches that you can use to ship non-fragile items like clothing, books, and dried food. These are lightweight which should keep shipping costs down. But as you'd expect, they're less durable than boxes.

Mailer Boxes
Custom Mailer Box by Sundrop Studios
Custom Mailer Box by Sundrop Studios

Mailer boxes are smaller compared to traditional shipping boxes. However, their unique look makes their content feel more premium. That's the reason why subscription businesses use them. Mailer boxes are an excellent option for retailers that don't ship in huge quantities.

Shipping Boxes
Custom Shipping Box by Curly Cue Design Studio
Custom Shipping Box by Curly Cue Design Studio

Shipping boxes are large and robust. They're perfect for shipping products to customers. You can use them for e-commerce product shipping or brick-and-mortar stores. Use them to ship bulk orders or larger items. 

Labels and Stickers
Custom Labels by Belugabee
Custom Labels by Belugabee

Labels and stickers help seal your packaging and provide additional information that couriers and customers need. They come in all shapes and sizes. You can also use stickers as giveaways. Give customers a couple so they can promote your brand.

Packaging Tape
Custom Packaging Tape by Ash + Stone Skincare
Custom Packaging Tape by Ash + Stone Skincare

Packaging tape is an affordable way of sealing shipping boxes. You can create custom ones that feature your business name or logo. 

Testing Shipments

You can perform simple tests to make sure your products will be safe as they make their way to customers. 

These include:

  • Vibration Testing — Checks if your packaging can handle vibrations during transport.
  • Drop Testing — Confirms if your packaging can survive drops caused by mishandling.
  • Compression Testing — Lets you know what happens to your packaging if placed under a heavy load.
  • Environmental Testing — Shows what happens to your packaging if exposed to different environmental factors like changes in temperature or humidity.

Some companies offer package testing services if you want to have it done professionally. Not only do they have all the equipment for it, but they also do their testing in controlled environments. They also perform more extensive tests besides those already mentioned such as distribution testing, incline impact testing, horizontal impact testing, and cold chain testing.

Testing the integrity of your packaging is important because any damage to your product will mean increased costs.

Measuring Performance

You'll want to keep your eyes on key performance metrics. This gives you a better idea if your investment in proper packaging is reaping the rewards. 

What keyword metrics should you look out for?

  • Order Accuracy — Make sure your customers get the exact items they ordered. Unforced errors like this will increase shipping costs and bad customer reviews. Having someone on your team check all packages leaving your facility for accuracy is important.
  • Delivery Rate — Check how many customers get their packages on time. Plenty of factors affect delivery rates like weather conditions, traffic, and bad scheduling. 
  • Delivery Duration — Track how long it takes to deliver products to customers. The average time will tell you if there's a flaw in your delivery process. You might need to find better routes or use large-capacity vehicles to fulfill your orders on time.
  • Delivery Cost — Calculate how much you spend on labor, facility rental, courier fees, and other related expenses to deliver a product. It will be different for every customer but the average delivery cost will give you a broader sense of whether you're making money or if you need to adjust your strategy.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) — Have someone launch an NPS campaign. NPS is a metric that shows how customers feel about your business. The more satisfied they are, the higher the score. While NPS covers a lot of ground, you can use it to see if customers are happy about your shipping. Customer feedback will also show you what areas you need to improve.

Deciding on Void Fill

Void fills are a necessary expense in most cases. They keep items from moving inside their casing and absorb impacts to prevent product damage. These are also known as packaging fillers.

Custom Tissue Paper by Karolitarte
Custom Tissue Paper by Karolitarte

Here's a list of the most popular void fills used today.

  • Packing Peanuts — Small, lightweight styrofoam void fills that are great for filling gaps because of their size and shape. 
  • Air Pillows — Inflatable packaging void fills that absorb impact effectively. 
  • Tissue Paper — Paper-based void fill that you can add your branding to. It also protects products from dust, fingerprints, and dirt.
  • Fabric — Reusable cotton, polyester, or linen bags that pair well with specialty products.
  • Packing Paper — Crumpled or shredded recycled paper that offers adequate protection.
  • Bubble Wrap — Water-resistant and lightweight. These are more flexible than air pillows.
  • Styrofoam — Rigid void fill with thermal insulation properties. Most are non-biodegradable though.

We discuss the benefits of void fill and how to choose the right ones for packaging in another blog post, What Are Packaging Fillers?

Success Stories

Many brands have succeeded after tweaking their shipping and packaging strategy. Take the story of Inspire Me Korea, a subscription business that used to ship their boxes to customers manually. 


The Inspire Me Korea team would pack boxes and send them to the local post office. It was time-consuming and impractical. So, the business looked for an e-commerce shipping and fulfillment provider so their team could focus on product sourcing, development, and marketing.

Your time is valuable. So it is possible to save money by outsourcing order fulfillment to third-party providers. In Inspire Me Korea's case, they might have ended up hiring more people to handle all their orders as the company received more orders. 

And it could have required renting a larger facility — something a new business may not afford.

A brand refresh can also help you save money on new packaging. Doing a brand refresh helps growing companies. It gets new eyes on products and reinvigorates the business. And it doesn't have to be expensive. All you need to do is find suitable packaging materials and update your design.

Temple Candles refreshed its brand which made its candle boxes more stylish and appealing. The design studio it hired didn't change the logo and color palette because existing customers were already familiar with those. However, it did change its typography to make the brand more refined.


The new typography is available across Temple Candles' marketing materials and website.

These examples prove that you don't need to spend as much when improving your product shipping and packaging.

Benefits of Implementation

There are benefits to developing a comprehensive shipping strategy. Below are just a few of them.

Measuring the ROI of the Choices You Make — Shipping Costs

Researching proper product packaging and shipping options will give you a better sense of how to reduce shipping costs. It also helps you understand how to measure your ROI based on your decisions.

Customer Experience Measures

Your strategy to lower shipping costs will also benefit customers. Packages will arrive on time and in great condition. Customers will have a better unboxing experience and more shipping options to get their orders faster.

Product Loss/Damage Measures

Finding the right packaging solutions for your business will result in fewer or no product damage. That means you won't have to spend as much replacing damaged goods. This will help you save a lot more money and generate more sales.


The first step to saving money when shipping products is understanding the challenges of product shipping. You must understand all your shipping options including which shipping materials to use and shipping methods. 

You should also develop a shipping budget, learn how to handle different shipment quantities, and measure your ROI.

Businesses don't have to spend much when designing their packaging. You can even go with a minimalist design and still impress customers. 

However, you must measure your products correctly to protect them during transport. The tighter the fit, the more secure your products will be. There are a lot of packaging materials to choose from including mailer boxes and poly mailers. 

You'll want to test your packaging before shipping products. Some companies offer testing services but you can do this yourself to save money.

Use void fill to prevent products from moving inside their casing during shipping.

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