When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your balance sheet? Whenever it was, you probably noticed that shipping costs were eating up a large amount of money month over month. Across the board, eCommerce merchants are always looking for ways to optimize their operations and save money on logistics costs.
In this article, we’ll explore why businesses turn to flat rate shipping and the advantages and disadvantages it affords in terms of cost and brand management. Of course, working with a shipping company like Easyship is one way to take the guesswork out of the equation. Using the rates at check gives you real-time insights into real-world shipping rates, so you’ll never make a costly package-size blunder.
What is flat rate shipping?
Flat rate shipping is a means of standardizing shipping at a standard rate, as the name suggests. In technical terms, it is when a single rate is charged for shipping a package, regardless of weight or size as long as the package weighs less than 70 pounds.
Experienced shippers will recognize that is not how the game is normally played. Typically, shipping couriers charge different shipping fees for different products depending on their. size, shape, and weight.
So if you’re frequently shipping packages that weigh less than 70 pounds, it can be an effective cost-saving measure. Commonly-used couriers like FedEx, USPS, and UPS offer the service. What’s more, flat rate shipping boxes are provided for free from couriers, further positioning it as a cost-saving measure, as packing materials themselves can add up over time. Alternatively, if merchants want to use their own packaging, a shipping platform like Easyship offers Flat Export Rate services which are based only on the weight of the package, giving merchants of any size more flexibility with their packaging.
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Cons of flat rate shipping
Flat rate shipping seems like an attractive option on paper, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for every business’s needs.
Difficult to breakeven
While flat rate shipping may look attractive on paper, it’s not exactly a cure-all solution for financial woes. For businesses, calculating the break-even point to figure out cost savings requires a very complicated comparison of package volume, weight and distance. Often, businesses will find that it’s not so simple to break even.
Loss of branding opportunities
If you’re working with USPS or FedEx, you must use the flat rate boxes provided by the courier. While this may seem like a win due to the cost-cutting nature, it is, on second glance, a missed opportunity for branding.
When using a featuring a courier’s branding courier instead of your own eCommerce businesses, you lose a vital built-in marketing opportunity. While this may seem innocuous, it can hurt you in the long run, as you miss out on a chance to make impressions and drive awareness on not only your customer but people who might see the parcel in transit.
No matter how much your package weighs, the rate remains the same — flat, if you will — as long as it is sub 70 pounds. This is a bargain for heftier packages. For lightweight goods, however, things have the potential to get expensive.
In fact, lightweight packages, when sent in flat rate boxes, can actually be more expensive than shipping them as you typically would. If you frequently ship lightweight packages, a shipping rate calculator may come in handy as you determine the best option for your business.
Pros of flat rate shipping
Flat rate shipping can help business owners save on time and money without having to stress about purchasing packaging, package weight and other logistics calculations.
Simple pricing model
Flat rate shipping depends on a fixed, easy to understand system. The prices are not affected by the shape, size, and weight of the package, but depends on the size of the boxes used. Send packages weighing up to 70 pounds without worrying about the shipping cost — that doesn’t change. This makes things easy for the business and for customers to digest.
That said, there are different price points across small, medium and large boxes. As intuition suggests, large shipping boxes cost more than medium and small. Across the board, though, the maximum shipping weight shouldn’t surpass 70 pounds.
Packaging from couriers
One of the most obvious perks of flat rate shipping is saving on packaging materials. When shipping with USPS, packaging materials are provided by the courier. This, in the long run, saves on costs for materials.
Cheaper for small, heavy products.
Conversely to points raised above, if your business frequently sends heavy, small products, flat rate shipping is actually a cost-shaving solution. As rates are kept standardized below 70 pounds, it’s a great option … as long as you’re not shipping anvils or baby grand pianos.
Use your own packaging
While some couriers, like the USPS, require you to use their flat rate boxes, that’s not always the case. But with Easyship’s flat export rate you can get the best of both worlds — low, standardized rates and the ability to use your own packaging. This is not only cost effective, but is also business savvy.
Keeping aesthetics and the post-purchase experience in mind, Easyship allows you to remain in control of your aesthetic — and your customer’s first impression upon unboxing their prized package. Think of each package you send as a tiny billboard and harness that blank canvass to market your business with engaging packaging design elements including modern colors, your brand’s logo, and other relevant imagery.
Flat rate shipping isn’t the right solution for every business. But when it works, it works. If your business ships small and heavy products, fulfills orders individually and has a point of sending from a coastal location in the US. Plus, when you ship with leading vendors like Easyship, you can get competitive flat rates and use your own box, allowing you to showcase your eye-catching package design.
Easyship simplifies flat rate shipping by partnering with major global couriers, giving online merchants access to 250+ shipping solutions with discounted rates of up to 70%.
Sign up for an Easyship account today to see which shipping option works best for your company!