When starting out with your business, how often have you heard the phrase ‘E-commerce is simple’? At least once, that’s for sure. There are even some who hear variations of the same phrase on a regular basis, such as ‘E-commerce is easy’, or ‘All you need is a good product’. In reality, running a small business in the eCommerce sector is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s nowhere near as glamorous as the marketing pages would have you believe. It entails weeks and months of near-constant hard work and perseverance, a keen intuition, and quick decision-making skills. That’s how you successfully get started with your small business.
Even then, however, there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. The world is changing, and there is economic uncertainty everywhere. In a world dominated by large companies, keeping costs low by making use of cheap shipping solutions is the real challenge. In such situations, what’s an entrepreneur to do? How do they find a way to survive amidst tough competition, satisfying their customers, paying their employees, and earning a sustainable profit all at the same time?
The answer might be obvious: they need to cut down on costs without compromising on quality. But it’s a very delicate balance to strike, and it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds. Today, we’ll be taking a look at all these questions and figuring out how to navigate through financial challenges as a small business.
Why Small Businesses are Important?
First things first, why do we need small businesses in the first place? Why would a customer go for a lesser-known platform when they have the massive collections of Amazon and Flipkart at their fingertips?
The reasons are multifaceted- small businesses provide jobs, grow the local economy, and help people discover niche products that might not be sold by large corporations. Most newer businesses are set up by budding entrepreneurs that aim to establish a stable and healthy work-life balance, a balance that is sorely missing from corporate jobs.
As we can see, small businesses have a very important role to play in the e-commerce sphere as well as in society at large. They are quite literally the ‘backbone’ of the economy. As such, it is of the utmost necessity to ensure that they receive the required support to keep themselves upright and support the local community. Our main focus shall be on the availability of cheap shipping facilities for small businesses.
Importance of Cheap Shipping for Small Businesses
While e-commerce has changed the way businesses operate, businesses themselves have also influenced the e-commerce ecosystem. Advantages of this mutually beneficial relationship include increased business reach, increased sales, use of automation, and so on. Using eCommerce shipping solutions allows businesses to keep their operating costs low and take advantage of new and developing technologies such as AI. Lastly, they give customers more choices while buying products, and help establish a meaningful connection with the brand.
No matter how many precautions you take, the game is more or less rigged in the favour of the big players. Almost every sector is dominated by an oligopoly, and large companies can easily use their capital to crush competitors through strategies of predatory pricing. Unless they have a unique or innovative business model, small businesses find it hard to survive in such hostile environments.
Furthermore, most well-known logistics firms or third-party platforms mainly cater to these large or medium-sized companies, and their pricing options reflect that viewpoint. As a result, small businesses are often left out in the cold. This results in them shutting down and the local economy suffering as a result. It doesn’t take much to figure out that in order to prevent this from happening, cheaper options are required. That is what we shall focus on next.
Cheap Ways to Ship for a Small Business
As small business owners, many people would like to know how they can cut down on their shipping costs. We have some tips and strategies that you can start using today to significantly reduce the shipping costs for your small eCommerce business and further grow it further.
1) Build Shipping Costs into the cost of your product
If you feel extra shipping charges would scare customers away or be detrimental to your business, you can include a portion of the charges in the cost of the product itself. Even if you cannot cover the entire cost, even a small amount would help drastically. The caveat is to make sure the shipping charges do not influence the product price too much.
2) Use Reliable Shipping Solutions
Instead of spending time and resources discussing or negotiating with individual carriers or shipping partners, you can sign up with an integrated shipping solution platform that will do the work for you. Many such platforms usually have agreements with carriers to provide discounted rates, so you can take full advantage of that as well.
3) Do Prior Research
Before choosing a shipping service, you need to do your research and figure out what suits your small business the best. There are a variety of factors to take into account- order volume, weight, speed, and distance. Make sure to select the service that is most in line with the needs and requirements of your company, and provides all the facilities that you might need.
4) Examine the Packaging
The packaging of a product can very well be the difference between cheap shipping costs and expensive ones. If you feel your costs are too high, take a good long look at the way your products are being packaged, and ask yourself whether they are efficient or not. In most scenarios, changing the product packaging, for example reducing the box size or cutting down on padding without compromising on safety, can prove to reduce your costs by a wide margin.
5) Take Sustainable Initiatives
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, you can take advantage of old and discarded materials to help you with your shipping needs. For example, when an order is returned, you can re-use the packaging for a different order. If you find piles of unused materials, send them for recycling so that they can be used for different purposes in the future.
Following the above-mentioned tips consistently while going through your shipping will undoubtedly help you to cut down on your costs and start off with cheap shipping services. This will allow you to better compete with larger companies. Next up, let’s take a look at some shipping platforms that are known for being affordable.
Cheap Shipping Platforms for Small Businesses
Now that we have a pretty good idea about how to reduce shipping costs, it is time to list down some cheap shipping platforms. Here we have listed down some of the popular options that have a good repute and are generally seen as versatile, reliable, and stable.
Sendle, an Australia-based platform, is a great choice when it comes to keeping costs low. Their shipping options are 100% carbon neutral, further reducing prices. It is best suited for shipping smaller-sized packages, so it is best for businesses that are just starting out or do not ship many large products. They also offer discounts based on order volumes or when ordered in bulk and offer free integration with Shopify &WooCommerce.
A relatively well-known shipping carrier, DHL is an extremely reliable and stable option for small businesses that have some prior experience. Their costs vary depending on a number of factors such as speed, distance, and package size. They also have specialized resources to assist small businesses with international shipping in particular, so if you’re looking to send your products across borders, DHL is a solid option.
3) India Post
Probably the most affordable option on this list, India Post provides extensive nationwide coverage. It is a body owned by the Government of India and is hence heavily subsidized for common people as well as small businesses. It is very reliable even when it comes to delivering in remote locations where other carriers typically do not go.
When all else fails, it does good to fall back on reliable options like FedEx. They have a variety of shipping solutions to choose from at competitive rates. Their services are relatively quick and simple, and they also offer a number of discounts to reduce shipping prices further, as well as discounts on printing and other services. Most importantly, FedEx helps small businesses set up their shipping process and grow their company.
We took a look today at small businesses. We learned why they are important, and how they are being affected by unhealthy competition as well as the economic climate. We then came to know about some tips and strategies that small businesses can use in order to cut down their shipping costs and maximize revenue. Finally, we looked at some shipping platforms that offer cheap shipping options for small businesses. Evidently, there are many real challenges that such businesses are facing, but also equally as many creative solutions that can be employed as a response. Hopefully, this article provided some insight into those solutions, as well as how shipping, in general, can be made more affordable.