It’s guest post week again. Today we’ll hear from Marian Sparks with some tips for how to save money on packaging and shipping costs at your small business. Here’s Marian:
If you run a business—no matter what your product is—you will need packing supplies. It doesn’t matter if you ship products to customers on a daily basis or you occasionally send out recognition gifts to your employees—having the right packing supplies on hand will save you time and money.
The key to saving money is to plan ahead and buy in bulk whenever possible. Don’t buy one box or one padded envelope or one container of shipping peanuts. Look back over the previous year to see how many boxes (or containers) you sent out. You can use that number as a baseline to order this year’s shipping supplies. Make sure you have a storage closet where you can keep the supplies dry and intact until you need them. And always ask for a bulk discount. It can’t hurt.
And remember, if you get the discount, make sure to mention it during your performance review. Bottom line: Quantifiable discounts are meaningful accomplishments.
If your company regularly sends out breakable items, make sure you stock up on bubble wrap, peanuts, and newsprint paper. (Newsprint paper hasn’t been printed on. Since newspaper ink can rub off, many people don’t like to use it. If you do end up using newspaper, make sure your breakable item won’t absorb the ink.)
For extra security, and if your item is small enough, double box it. For example, if you send out glass picture frames, first wrap in newsprint and bubble wrap. Then place the wrapped frame in a box that is just large enough to fit it. Wrap that box in bubble wrap and place it inside a slightly larger box with packing peanuts. That should protect it.
If you regularly send oversized items, it’s best to take them apart and wrap each individual piece carefully before packing into a mailing box.
If you can’t reduce the item in size, you might want to invest in custom boxes. If boxes are manufactured specifically for your product, then there will be less room for shifting around in the box and possibly breaking.
If custom boxes aren’t in your budget, invest in boxes that are slightly larger than the item you’re shipping. You need to make certain that there is room for bubble wrap and cardboard reinforcement, if necessary. Assume your item is breakable and pack it accordingly. (After all, everything is breakable at some level.)
Employee Recognition Gifts
If you run a business that isn’t customer-driven, you still have employees. And every once in awhile, you probably send out employee recognition gifts. Whether these are company mugs or paperweights or even tins of popcorn with your logo, if you’re sending them out yourself, you’ll want to have enough boxes to send to each employee. (Make sure you have a few extra boxes just in case you forgot the recent hires.)
Again, having the right sized boxes on hand will save your lots of aggravation.
Or maybe your company isn’t the kind to send out key chains or company-branded Frisbees, you’ll still need to mail out employee information. New employees might need a company handbook and depending on the size of your company and all your policies and procedures, it might be more than can fit in a letter-sized envelope. Make sure to invest in larger manila envelopes that can hold all the necessary information without tearing.
Don’t forget that boxes and padded envelopes are available from the Post Office. These may work for some of your needs, but remember that they aren’t branded with your company information—and they do require that you use a specific level of mail service.
While the free items from the Post Office are handy and budget-friendly, ask yourself if this is the business image you want to project. Would it be better to invest in padded envelopes or boxes with your company’s logo? It’s an easy and effective way to advertise your brand.
If you are a brand-new business or a start-up on a tight budget, there’s nothing wrong with recycling boxes. Take mailing boxes you’ve received, clear off the old label and anything that associates it with another company.
If you’re creative, you can use the recycling to your brand’s advantage. Your customers and employees will appreciate what you’re doing for the environment, so make sure you call it out.
Make sure to do your research because there are many package and box suppliers out there. Ask yourself a few questions in order to find the one that’s right for you.
- Do I need more than one type of box?
- Is my product breakable? Do I need plenty of bubblewrap on hand?
- Do I want labels to show my company logo?
- Do I have the resources to pick up the supplies or do I want them delivered?
- Will I be ordering online or going to a brick-and-mortar store?
- Can I order tape in addition to boxes?
- How much weight can the boxes hold?
So, no matter what type of business you run, saving money on packaging supplies will help your bottom line. And ordering those packaging supplies in bulk and having them on hand will make you more effective.
Marian Sparks is a freelance writer and a warehouse employee from Los Angeles, California. With her expertise in corporate merchandising, packaging supplies, and warehouse duties, she has acquired the knowledge to publish informative articles to avid readers in the industry. During her free time, she enjoys learning, researching new topics, and writing.
And don’t forget to support me as I rappel down the side of a 35-story building in downtown Chicago to raise money for minority and female entrepreneurs!