Running a business from home can be stressful, especially when business begins to boom and you quickly reach the point of asking, “Is it time to ask for help? Can I afford it?”
In this post, we're looking at the cost of shipping from your home business. At what point is it time for you to stop running to/from the Post Office like a mad woman and start managing your shipping like a traditional business?
The general rule is that if you're spending $50 or more a month on shipping, you can save both time and money by using shipping tools. So, what can you do make your shipping-from-home processes more cost-effective?
1. Use a Postage Meter.
Postage meters represent the traditional method of saving money on mailing and shipping. They work by weighing your mail and printing an indicia or postal marking on your mailpiece or parcel. (Indicias are considered by most to look more professional than actual stamps.) By weighing mail, you're able to meter the exact amount of postage required for the weight of the piece and in some cases, the distance it will travel to be delivered. In fact, a study shows that using a postage meter instead of guessing the weight of mail and how many stamps are required can save small businesses up to 20% a year in postage costs.
2. Use PC Postage and Ship Online.
These days, more small businesses are forgoing trips to the Post Office and opting to print their own postage at home – in the exact amount they need, when they need it. This means business owners aren't stuck with a pile of unusable stamps when there's a postage rate increase. And when you combine this with using a mail scale, you can weigh your mail and know exactly how much postage to apply. A number of affordable online postage services exist for buying and printing stamps online.
3. Use USPS Priority Mail® Flat Rate Packaging.
When you buy Priority Mail® flat-rate envelopes and boxes, you pay one predetermined postage amount based on the packaging used. Since the amount you pay is fixed, this option is great for home business owners who ship heavy packages or send parcels great distances. The best part? You can order the packaging online at usps.com and have it shipped to your home for free.
4. Enjoy Free Carrier Pickup.
Don't have time to run to the Post Office to mail your shipment? Your postal carrier can pick up your shipment when he/she delivers your mail if you’re shipping “expedited” services such as Priority Mail and Express Mail. Or, if you need pick up on a specific date and time, the Postal Service will pick up those packages for a nominal fee – definitely worth saving you a trip to the Post Office! You can schedule pickups on usps.com or even via your online postage system.
6. Add Email Marketing to Your Repertoire.
This is obviously the more modern tip of the lot. Many businesses, especially small businesses, are keeping their mailing costs (i.e. design, production, and shipping costs) low and going green by communicating with customers digitally. You can target emails to specific customer segments, test marketing messages and easily post your emails to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. There are a number of affordable CAN-SPAM certified email marketing services for small businesses that help you make emails professional, personal and effective.
By using one of the above methods to help cut down the cost of shipping from home, you can better manage your resources and be more budget friendly.
Spending less time running around town for postage stamps means more time for your work-from-home business and more time for nurturing relationships with customers and family – you know, doing the things you created your home business for in the first place.
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Written by Shayna Burns of Pitney Bowes Small Business Postal Equipment, which specializes in postage meters, online postage stamps and email marketing solutions.