For companies that ship to residential locations, it may behoove them to take advantage of the U.S. Postal Service, which can still provide cost-effective shipping despite the recent rate increases. That was the message of Alicia Berry, COO of DVD Empire, a Web-based DVD retailer, at a session during the recent National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Schaumburg, Ill.
“The most important thing you can do to control costs is to figure out where each of your packages is going and how much it costs — the daily numbers,” she said. “That way, you’ll be able to take advantage of what the USPS has to offer. You’ll also be able to get a handle on how costs are trending, and understand how to fix sudden spikes in costs when they happen.”
DVD Empire ships 50 percent of its goods (mostly DVDs in jewel boxes) through USPS Media Mail, 15 percent through Priority Mail and 35 percent through UPS, Berry explained. A company can use the Postal Service cost-effectively by employing some of the following strategies:
1. Manifesting. Excellent for multiple shipping methods with different weights, Berry pointed out, and it also provides confirmation information that will enable companies to do their own reports. She noted that since DVD Empire has started using manifesting, it has cut down on customer service contacts due to such problems as misdirected shipments, among others.
2. USPS boxes. For Global Priority Mail, shippers can use flat-rate boxes. And if a shipper has a high enough volume, the Postal Service will print a company’s logo or other design on the box at no extra charge.
3. Presorting. If a shipper doesn’t mind adding about a day to shipping times, presorting will save money, Berry said. If the volume is high enough, a shipper can qualify for five-digit discounted rates. If a company doesn’t ship enough to qualify for five-digit presorting, then perhaps it can find another company that ships similarly sized items to get the discount by shipping together.
4. No postal insurance. For companies that ship more than about 10 packages a day, Berry said, the insurance offered by the USPS isn’t cost-effective. Private insurance is more cost-effective but might not make sense, depending on what a company ships.