Salt Lake Mailing & Printing Blog

Taking the Headache Out of Shipping for Small Businesses

ShippingSending an occasional package for a small business can be a huge hassle. Tell me if this sounds familiar. When you need to ship something every month or so, you usually take the product you need shipped and walk all over the office searching for a box that it will fit in. After looking in every closet and under every desk, you finally find an old dusty box that you can get to work… kind of.

You put the item in the box and then you realize that the item is going to move around inside the box too much during transit. You look around and try to find some packing material but all you can find is a ream of copy paper. Not wanting to waste new paper, you keep searching. Finally, you locate the paper shredder and empty the contents into the box.

That’s still not enough packing material, so you pull out your pocket knife and by making a few cuts, lower the top of the box. You try to fold the corners down nicely, but since reducing the height of the box, the corners are not crisp and clean anymore. You finally get the corners respectable looking, and then you try to find the tape. You know there was a roll of packing tape somewhere, but today it cannot be found.

You find some scotch tape in a coworker’s desk drawer, but decide against it since you would need to use the whole roll in order to seal it off. You walk to the office next door and they are willing to share a roll of duct tape. Finally you get the package sealed, and using a sharpie, print the shipping address as neatly as you can.

Feeling as though you’ve just accomplished a major feat, you drive to the post office where you wait in a long line, only to get a form to fill out again. You don’t know why you need to fill out the address on their little piece of paper, when you already wrote it on the package. Finally you pay for the postage, leave the package at the counter, get back in the car and stop at the convenience store for a big 48 ounce soda to help calm your frustrations. You glance at the clock to see that it is now 4:37 p.m., and you’ve been at this since lunch. There has to be a better way.

The good news is that there are better options, and here are my favorite three:

Use flat-rate boxes. Priority shipping boxes and envelopes are free from the USPS. You can order them online, and in a few days, they’re delivered with your mail. Flat-rate boxes and envelopes take the guess work out of shipping weights, since they ship whatever fits in the package for the stated flat rate. Postage labels can be printed directly from USPS.com, and your letter carrier will take the box with her when she drops off your mail tomorrow.

Schedule a pick up. When you receive a box in the mail, save the box and the packing material. To save room, dump all of the packing material in one large box and nest all of the other boxes inside one another. When you need to find a box, they’re all in one spot, along with the packing tape. You can then go online and print a shipping label and schedule a pickup. You don’t have to leave the office.

Go to a shipping facility. If the item is extra heavy, an odd size or shape, or fragile, you can choose to take the item to a shipping company. You can drop it off with the address and they will do all of the work. They have the right sized boxes, plenty of packing material, and printed labels. You can even get insurance to cover any mishaps along the way.

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