Navigating the Potential UPS Strike: How to Protect Your Supply Chain

May 25, 2023 at 2:09 PMLeah Palnik
Navigating the Potential UPS Strike: How to Protect Your Supply Chain

In today's interconnected business landscape, small businesses heavily rely on efficient and reliable shipping services to maintain their supply chains and meet customer demands. With the potential UPS strike looming, it is crucial for small businesses to understand the implications and take proactive measures to safeguard their operations. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of the potential UPS strike, why small businesses should care, and provide actionable steps to protect their supply chains during this uncertain period.

Understanding the UPS Strike

Negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters, the union representing UPS employees, are ongoing and have reached a critical point. While it is uncertain whether a strike will occur, it is essential for small businesses to be prepared for such a scenario. The Teamsters and UPS have until August 1 to reach an agreement. The impact of a UPS strike can be significant, disrupting supply chains and causing delays in deliveries, which can have far-reaching consequences for businesses of all sizes.

Implications for Small Businesses:

  • Disrupted Operations: Small businesses heavily reliant on UPS services may face disruptions in their day-to-day operations, such as delays in receiving inventory, shipping products to customers, and meeting delivery deadlines. This can lead to dissatisfied customers, decreased revenue, and potential damage to the brand reputation.

  • Increased Costs: In the event of a UPS strike, small businesses might be forced to seek alternative shipping solutions, which could come at a higher price. Exploring other shipping carrier options and securing competitive pricing now will be a necessary lifeline.

  • Supply Chain Bottlenecks: A UPS strike can cause a ripple effect throughout the entire supply chain. Suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors relying on UPS may experience delays in receiving raw materials or components, leading to production slowdowns and potential stock shortages. Small businesses need to proactively address these bottlenecks to mitigate the impact on their operations.

Protecting Your Supply Chain:

  • Diversify Shipping Partners: Small businesses should consider partnering with alternative shipping providers such as FedEx, DHL, or regional carriers. Research and negotiate discounted rates with these providers well in advance, ensuring they can handle the business's shipping volume during a UPS strike.

  • Plan Ahead: Developing contingency plans and forecasting potential disruptions is crucial. Small businesses should communicate with suppliers, manufacturers, and customers, informing them of potential delays and seeking alternative arrangements if necessary. Implementing buffer inventory or safety stock can help mitigate supply chain disruptions during this period.

  • Explore Local Sourcing: In case of a UPS strike, small businesses can explore local sourcing options for raw materials or components. This reduces the reliance on long-distance shipping and minimizes the impact of any potential disruptions in the transportation network.

  • Optimize Inventory Management: Efficient inventory management becomes paramount during uncertain times. Small businesses should analyze their inventory levels, streamline their procurement processes, and leverage technology solutions to track and manage inventory in real-time. This ensures the availability of essential products and reduces the risk of stockouts during a UPS strike.

  • Communicate with Customers: Proactive and transparent communication with customers is crucial during periods of disruption. Small businesses should keep customers informed about potential delays, set realistic expectations, and provide updates throughout the process. Customer loyalty can be maintained by offering alternative shipping options or discounts during this challenging period.

  • Control Your Costs: One effective way for small businesses to safeguard their supply chains and keep costs under control during a potential UPS strike is by exploring discounted shipping options. PartnerShip works with over 130 associations to provide members with substantial discounts on FedEx services through the FedEx Advantage program. By signing up for the program, businesses can mitigate the financial impact of a UPS strike while maintaining reliable shipping services. These discounts can help offset any potential increase in shipping costs and ensure that businesses can continue to fulfill orders and meet customer expectations without compromising their bottom line. Contact our team to find out if you qualify for the FedEx discounts and how to get started.

From Disruption to Resilience

While the potential UPS strike poses challenges for small businesses, it also presents an opportunity to reassess and strengthen their supply chain strategies. By diversifying shipping partners, planning ahead, exploring local sourcing options, optimizing inventory management, and maintaining open communication with customers, small businesses can navigate through potential disruptions and emerge stronger. Being prepared for contingencies ensures business continuity and safeguards the customer experience, even during challenging times.

Forget Boxes: When to Use Poly Mailer Packaging

April 5, 2023 at 3:04 PMJen Deming
When to use poly mailer packaging

If you’re a retailer, you probably know that there is a wide variety of packaging options available to ship your customer orders. In addition to traditional options like boxes, poly mailers are quickly becoming the preferred choice of many shippers. With perks like low supply costs and quick assembly, poly mailers sound like a rock star solution, but how can you be sure they are right for you? Looking at some very specific scenarios can help determine when to use a poly mailer.

Scenario 1 - When you need assembly to be fast and efficient

No one wants to waste time packaging shipments - and poly mailers are a great option when you want to streamline your shipping process. Unlike boxes, which require assembly, tape, and internal elements like foam core, poly mailers are ready to use right off the shelf. Once you select which mailer style to use, all you need to do is insert the item, seal the mailer, and add the shipping label. 

An added bonus is that poly mailers can streamline and simplify storage for your packing materials. They take up less space, which means you can store more of them in your warehouse. If you have limited storage space, and a smaller team to manage your shipping, these efficiencies can be a lifesaver. 

Scenario 2 - When you want to keep shipping supplies costs low

Keeping shipping supplies on hand can get pricey, especially if you need to order custom-sized items like boxes for packaging. If you’re looking to save money on supplies, poly mailers are a great option. They are typically less expensive than boxes -  on average they cost $0.25 a mailer compared to $1.25 for a box of a similar size. For extra protection, you can find bubble mailers, which have padding built in. Bubble mailers don't require additional packing materials like Styrofoam peanuts, so you're saving some money there. All types of mailers are able to be purchased in bulk, which helps with cost savings.

Another perk you get with poly mailers is that if your supplies unexpectedly run low they are easy to find at places like office supply or grocery stores. While it’s always best to keep an appropriate amount of packaging on hand, if you’re in a pinch, finding more won’t be difficult or break the bank. These factors all add up to significant savings over time, especially if you ship a moderate to high volume of products.

Scenario 3 - If you want to avoid high DIM weight charges

As many retailers know, small package carriers use dimensional weight (DIM weight) pricing to calculate shipping costs. Carriers do not like to waste space on their trucks, so shipping large, lightweight packages is a no-no. These bulky packages will cost you, and this is a significant expense that quickly adds up for many retailers. A smart way to offset these high costs is to make sure you are minimizing wasted space, and that’s where poly mailers come in. 

Poly mailers are small, thin, and flexible - they can be folded and resized to best fit the product inside. These small, dense packages allow for greater efficiency for the carrier, and will cost you less in the long run. 

Scenario 4 - When you want a specific type of protection

Poly mailers are economical and convenient, but they are not suitable for all types of products. If you’re shipping fragile items, or those too large and heavy to fit securely in a mailer, you may need to use a different type of packaging. 

When to use poly mailer packaging

Poly mailers are ideal for soft goods like clothing, bedding, purses and backpacks, and some accessories like belts or scarves and knit hats. Padded mailers that offer additional lightweight protection are great for books and printed materials, DVD and blu ray discs,  some jewelry, cosmetics and skincare items, and select types of home goods like flatware.

If you’re shipping the right items that are not easily damaged, poly mailers can offer excellent protection. They are made from durable materials that can withstand normal handling during shipping. They are tear resistant, and also offer dirt and weather protection that is ideal for small items going to residential mailboxes.

Scenario 5 - When eco-friendly shipping is important

Finally, if you’re committed to eco-friendly shipping practices, poly mailers can be a great option for your business. They are often made from fully compostable or recyclable materials. You can often drop off poly mailers at the same places that would recycle plastic bags and containers. Poly mailers are also generally lightweight compared to boxes, which is more energy efficient for carriers.

How to recycle poly mailers graphic

Most significantly, poly mailers are often completely reusable. Many options have a secondary adhesive strip that allows them to be used for return shipping of orders, or even reused by the consumer for other shipping purposes. Even those without a second strip can be folded over at the opening and secured with tape - their durable material can withstand multiple journeys through a shipping network. These factors combined make poly mailers a great choice for retailers who want to reduce their environmental impact by reducing packaging waste.

Poly mailers are a great option for retailers - when it’s the right product

Poly mailers are a versatile and cost-effective option for small package shipping, and work very well for many ecommerce retailers. They can help streamline your order fulfillment process, enforce brand awareness, and help avoid high DIM weight costs. You may be able to save even more on your small package shipping if you belong to an association or chamber that works with PartnerShip. Contact our team to find out what options are available to your business.

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Time-Saving Shipping Tips Any Small Business Can Try

March 1, 2023 at 11:54 AMJen Deming

If you're a small-business owner, you know that shipping your products can be a time-consuming and frustrating task. When you have limited resources and staff, every wasted second counts. But it's time to take action - there are ways to make small package shipping easier, and faster, for you and your business. 

If You're Shipping Clothes, Don't Sleep on These Pro Tips

February 20, 2023 at 1:07 PMJen Deming
If You're Shipping Clothes, Don't Sleep On These Pro Tips

The online apparel industry is kind of a big deal. In fact, apparel and accessories accounted for 29.5% of all ecommerce sales in 2021 in the US alone. While shipping clothes seems pretty straightforward, you must master packaging, item weight, returns, and more to be successful. We’ve compiled the definitive list of unique tips for clothing retailers that will help ensure you’ll have the competitive edge.

Tip 1: Keep costs low with flexible packaging options 

Apparel shippers have a unique advantage over other ecommerce retailers: more packaging flexibility. This ability to use a variety of different packaging types allows greater cost control. Malleable items like clothing are tougher to damage than rigid, breakable items such as home goods, for example. Because of this, many apparel retailers can ship in alternative packaging types like poly mailers, envelopes, or recyclable bags instead of boxes, which can cost less and also offer greater customization options.

Another unique advantage of clothing is that it can be adjusted within the package to avoid higher shipping charges due to dimensional (DIM) weight. Most lightweight items are at an increased risk, but pliable fabric items like clothing can be folded and fitted to reduce extra space more easily. Whatever you can do to avoid wasting space will help you out in the long run.

Tip 2: Use apparel’s high return rate to your advantage

Retail returns are a particularly impactful affliction when it comes to the apparel industry, especially with online shopping. In fact, 88% of customers have reported returning clothing in the past. Sizing, color, fit, pricing, or something as simple as buyer’s remorse may encourage a customer to return their product. The key to navigating returns starts with shifting your perspective on them in the first place. Returns actually give you an opportunity to further engage with customers, and can convert online-only shoppers into brick-and-mortar customers. Your customer may initially prefer the quick refund of an in-store return, but after checking out your products in person, they may be more likely to exchange or accept a store credit for later use.

Shifting your attitude away from returns as a necessary evil to a more impactful part of your business strategy as a growth driver is essential. When used correctly, returns can actually result in higher net sales from your most profitable customers. Receiving excellent customer service during a return will increase confidence in a brand. Helpful measures such as adding return packaging and instructions, or sending follow-up emails to assess the buying experience, can strengthen the customer relationship and keep them coming back for more.

Apparel ecommerce data

Tip 3: Offer free shipping more successfully with scalable threshold strategies

With free shipping as a major expectation amongst consumers, ecommerce retailers can struggle with how to implement a strategy that is viable. Apparel retailers have it a bit easier than other shippers, due to the variety of options available. Implementing free shipping by using a threshold (“minimum order”) strategy often is the easiest way to give customers what they want while remaining a profitable business. 

First, you must figure out what your minimum threshold should be by looking at gross profit margin and average shipping costs. After you come up with that figure, consider offering the following value-centric options so that it’s easier to hit a specific order amount:

  • Product bundles - consider bundling options of most commonly-purchased items that customers go for in multiples, and pricing the bundle at your threshold. Example: 6 pairs of socks for $25
  • BOGO offers - offer BOGO deals that will get your average order value up and hit the minimum. Example: buy a pair of jeans for $40, get the second pair half off to hit a threshold of $60 
  • “Shop this outfit” - spotlight entire outfits, from basics to accessories. Make the price of each item clear, and display in virtual showrooms grouped by theme, like a season or occasion. Customers love to visualize how to put pieces together, and clearly breaking down the price for each item will help customers do the mental math to get to that threshold.

If you do offer free shipping, you cannot over-communicate the minimum order amount. It’s important that the shopper knows how much they must spend during every step of the order process. That way, they don’t reach the checkout and abandon their cart due to shipping frustrations.

Tip 4: Take advantage of shipping discounts exclusive to clothing retailers

No matter what industry you’re in, you should be aiming to keep your shipping costs low. Optimizing your packaging, ensuring you have accurate shipping details, and leveraging returns can all help, but checking into discounts is always smart.

Some carriers may offer limited-time promotional pricing or volume-based discounts, but your business needs reliable discounts that don’t have an expiration date. Many association groups and trade organizations within the retail industry offer shipping discounts as a member benefit. PartnerShip works with over 130 groups to provide members discounts that can offset daily shipping costs. Contact our team to see what’s available to you.


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Why Offering Free Shipping for Your Business is Easier Than You Think

December 13, 2022 at 10:14 AMJen Deming
Why offering free shipping is easier than you think

As a consumer, the words “free shipping” can create a huge incentive that pushes you to purchase. The expectation for most shoppers is that there will be some sort of free option. However, many retailers are still hesitant to offer free shipping, or stuck on how to make the choice available to consumers while still protecting their bottom line. Let’s take a look at the three most common misconceptions about offering free shipping, and how you can implement strategies to make it work to your business’s advantage.

Misconception #1 – Absorbing shipping costs will cut into my bottom line

If we’re really being honest here, it’s important to note that free shipping isn’t really “free”. Transportation services require time and effort from the carrier, so someone has to pay for it. If it’s not your customer, then it will have to be you. If not addressed correctly, you will have to absorb costs, and this will decrease your margins, overall.

The good news is that offering free shipping to your customer can have a major positive impact on your sales because it’s viewed as a huge value-add. In fact, most consumers are willing to spend up to 30% more online if they know they won’t be paying for shipping. As a top incentive, a further 93% of shoppers say they will take action to qualify for free shipping by adding more items to their order. By offering free shipping, you are going to boost sales and increase your average order spend. In time, the increase in revenue will ideally offset your shipping costs.

Pro tip: Set a minimum amount threshold to qualify for free shipping. 

To make free shipping a viable strategy, it’s probably not smart to offer the service on just any order that is placed. Because shipping costs fluctuate, it can be hard to predict consistently. By setting a minimum order amount, you’ll help ensure that the revenue from the sale will offset the costs of transportation. Determine your minimum order value in advance, and be strategic about communicating that minimum amount during every step of checkout.

Misconception #2 – Building shipping cost into product price will scare customers

Why offering free shipping is easier than you think

To counter the cost of shipping, it may make sense to increase your product price. But this can sound like a scary notion. Raised prices turn off customers and decreases your competitive advantage, right? The truth is, by increasing prices even minimally, while offering a high-value service like free shipping, you will see a boost to your net margin. 49% of all cart abandonment occurs due to sticker shock at the shipping point of checkout, not due to product price. Moderate price increases are generally justified by the customer, as long as fulfillment expectations are being met.

Pro tip: Product pricing should match what your customers are willing to spend and the type of customer you are trying to attract.

When building shipping costs into the price of your products, it’s always important to keep in mind who your target consumer base is. For example, a premium, brand-name shoe retailer can get away with a higher minimum price point than a book seller. Adding the cost of shipping into product price is a legitimate tactic that ensures you're covering your bases, just keep your price points fair and realistic.

Misconception #3 – The demand for free shipping isn’t there for my business 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that free shipping has pretty much become the industry standard. Thanks to large ecommerce companies like Amazon, consumers expect shipping to be fast, free, or a combination of both. No matter whether you’re selling t-shirts or toolkits, the demand for free shipping is there for any industry. In fact, 66% of consumers want free shipping on all orders, regardless of the total, and 88% expect it when their order exceeds a certain amount. Even more alarming, 61% of shoppers say they are “somewhat likely” to cancel their order if free shipping isn’t offered – that’s a big old ‘yikes’. In short, when the majority of your consumer base expects some type of free shipping, it’s time to stop stalling and decide how to offer the service instead.

Pro tip: Explore ways to “test out” free shipping with offers and promotions.

You don’t have to jump right into a committed strategy right off the rip – dipping your toes in can help determine which tactics work best for you. Consider offering new customers, or rewarding existing ones, with a free shipping promotion. Implement VIP or loyalty programs that allow your customers to sign up and receive free shipping as an incentive. You may even benefit from offering free shipping on select items (perhaps those with a higher price point). By testing out different methods, you can really look at the shipping costs you incur, what your minimum order threshold should be, and refine your strategy from there.

Discounted shipping options help you and your customers

No matter which tactic you decide is best when offering free shipping to your customers, it’s extra important to keep your shipping costs low. You might not know that there are often shipping discounts available through memberships within trade associations, chambers, and industry groups. PartnerShip works with over 130 groups to provide their members with discounts on FedEx services. Contact our team to find out if you qualify.

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Your Essential Guide to the 2023 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

December 6, 2022 at 11:35 AMLeah Palnik
The essential guide to the 2023 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

FedEx and UPS will be increasing their rates by an average of 6.9% in 2023. That’s a heavy statement for a couple of reasons. First, this is the highest General Rate Increase (GRI) the carriers have taken in recent years. And second, your actual shipping costs will likely go up more than 6.9% in the new year. Oof. Unpacking the new changes is complicated, but essential if you want to understand how your costs will be affected and what you can do about it.

Here's your guide to the FedEx and UPS rate increases for 2023. Jump to:

A look back at the FedEx and UPS GRIs 

FedEx and UPS have a long history of mirroring each other’s pricing. They typically announce the same GRI and appear to have very similar pricing strategies. Bottom line, published rates aren’t a major differentiator between the two carriers.

For 2023, both FedEx and UPS are pointing fingers at inflation as a contributing factor to the higher-than-usual rate increase. 2022 already saw an uptick with a 5.9% GRI, thanks to all of the supply chain disruptions and surges in demand that resulted from the pandemic. For several years prior to that, both carriers had been raising their rates annually by an average of 4.9%.

Some important quick facts about the new FedEx and UPS rates:

  • The new FedEx rates take effect on January 3, 2023, while the UPS rates take effect a week earlier on December 27, 2022.
  • The 6.9% average doesn’t take surcharges into account - many of which are increasing by more than 6.9%.
  • How much your costs actually go up in 2023 will depend on several different factors. The services you use, your shipment dimensions and weight, and how far your shipments are traveling all have an effect.

Important changes

So you already understand that FedEx and UPS rates are going up in the new year. What does that look like exactly? First, you'll want to review the released service guide previews: 

If all of those tables and numbers are making your head spin, you're not alone. But there are some key takeaways. Let’s take a look at a few of the general observations from the base rate changes:

  • Across all services and weight breaks, longer zones are getting hit with higher increases than shorter zones. Many of those increases are higher than the announced average. 
  • For Ground services, many of the rates for shorter zones are lower than the 6.9% average increase.
  • For each service, the rate increases are similar across most weight breaks. Zones are the biggest difference-makers this year. 
  • For the 3 Day services, you'll see a higher increase from FedEx than UPS. However, the actual rates are comparable. That is because UPS took a larger increase with this service the previous year. 
  • Both FedEx and UPS have increased their Ground Minimum charge to $10.10

When you are reviewing your shipping costs, you can’t look at the base rates alone. Surcharge fees often make up a significant chunk of the amount you end up paying. Here are a few noteworthy surcharge updates:

  • Fees for larger, more difficult to move packages continue to rise to hefty prices. You could be paying an extra $1,150 for a shipment that qualifies for the Unauthorized Packages fee by FedEx or the Over Maximum Limits fee by UPS.Common FedEx and UPS Surcharges
  • Both carriers are increasing the late payment fee from 6% to 8%.
  • FedEx created a Remote Delivery Surcharge. Almost 4,000 zips will now incur a $13.25 fee. UPS originally introduced a fee for this in January 2022.
  • Many common surcharges are increasing, with a significant amount increasing by more than 6.9%.Common FedEx and UPS Surcharges

There are also a couple of other changes that are important to be aware of:

  • UPS announced that it will be renaming “peak surcharges” to “demand surcharges”. Several years ago FedEx and UPS started implementing these fees to address the increased demand the holiday season brings. Then, the pandemic hit. Both carriers have struggled to meet the surge in demand amid all of the supply chain disruptions and decided to use peak surcharges in response. The decision by UPS to rebrand these surcharges signals that it is viewing them slightly differently. Instead of implementing fees based on seasonal predictability, “demand surcharges” suggests usage anytime there is an uptick in demand. In short, they’re likely here to stay.
  • The list of zip codes for zones is changing. Depending on where you’re shipping, you may have to pay based on a longer zone than before. It’s changes like these that make budgeting for your annual cost increase very challenging.

How the FedEx and UPS rate changes will affect your costs in 2023

You can’t take the announcement of a 6.9% increase at face value, unfortunately. You’ll need to determine what services you use the most, how far your shipments travel on average, and how much of your invoice charges can be attributed to fees.

Many shippers will see their costs go up over the announced 6.9% average. With that in mind, let’s look a few factors that could put you at risk for higher-than-average cost increases:

  • If you’re shipping larger packages or your packages require special handling. For the past several years, FedEx and UPS have been raising these fees at an alarming rate. Any shipment they can’t run through their normal systems costs them more time and money, and these fees are a way to discourage those types of shipments from entering their networks.
  • If you ship a higher percentage of residential shipments. Residential shipments cost the carriers more because they require more stops and are a less efficient use of their driver’s time. Residential fees continue to climb because of this.
  • If you ship a lot of low density packages. The pricing structure that FedEx and UPS have put in place punishes lighter shipments that take up a lot of space. The carriers prefer denser packages that take up less space because they’re able to fit more packages on their delivery vehicles.
  • If a high percentage of your shipments go to longer zones. It’s always been true that the further your package travels, the more expensive the rate. This year that’s especially true. Longer zones are seeing more increases above the announced average than shorter zones.

What you can do to mitigate the effects of the FedEx and UPS rate increases

  • Right-size your packaging. While FedEx and UPS rates are based on weight, that’s not actually the whole story. If your dimensional weight is higher than the actual weight, your package will be rated using the dimensional weight - meaning you’ll be paying more. This makes any excess space within your package extra costly. Focus on packaging that allows space for the items you’re shipping and the necessary cushioning and nothing more.
  • DIM Weight Calculation
  • Consider opening or using a new distribution center. Shipments with the longest distance to travel cost you the most every year. But in 2023, this will be even more important as the longest zones are seeing the highest increases. Getting closer to your customers could be a great strategy for keeping those costs down.
  • Take advantage of discounts available to you. Many trade associations and chambers of commerce will offer FedEx or UPS discounts to their members. Oftentimes the annual cost savings from those discounts more than make up for the cost of joining. PartnerShip works with over 130 groups to provide their members with discounts on FedEx services. Contact our team to find out if you qualify.

Wrapping your head around all of the changes for 2023 FedEx and UPS rates can be challenging. But, using this guide to understand what's behind the announced average and published service guides is a good first step. Use this information to properly budget for the new year and set up any mitigation tactics that work best for your business.   

FedEx and UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2022

October 21, 2022 at 9:10 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for FedEx and UPS

As you prepare your store for the influx of orders that come with the holiday season, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the shipping deadlines. Both FedEx and UPS have announced the last dates you can ship your orders and make it in time for a Christmas delivery.

It’s important to note these deadlines because demand surges this time of year. The carriers' networks are already strained, and it’s only going to get worse the closer we get to the holidays. To keep your customers happy and set the right expectations, we recommend clearly communicating the shipping cutoff dates and adding in extra days in case of delays.

FedEx has published a complete visual list of the last days to ship. Here are some highlights for domestic shipments:

  • December 8 for FedEx Ground Economy
  • December 14 for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery
  • December 20 for FedEx Express Saver
  • December 21 for FedEx 2Day and 2Day AM
  • December 22 for FO, PO, SO, and Extra Hours
  • December 23 for FedEx Same Day

UPS has also created a list of the last days to ship for Christmas delivery. Unfortunately, one thing that is missing is a specific cutoff date for Ground shipments. You will need to get a quote on the UPS website instead. For domestic UPS air shipments, the dates are as follows:

  • December 20 for UPS 3 Day Select
  • December 21 for UPS 2nd Day Air
  • December 22 for UPS Next Day Air services

It’s also important to note that service guarantees are currently suspended for both FedEx and UPS ground services. It's also suspended for select air/express services. The main takeaway? You’ll want to encourage your customers to order early and do what you can to add in extra days when setting delivery expectations.

If you're looking for any additional guidance or need a way to lower your small package costs, PartnerShip can help. Contact our team today.

Ranking the Top 3 Retail Shipping Mistakes

May 5, 2022 at 11:14 AMJen Deming
Top 3 Shipping Mistakes Blog Post

Successful retailers have to be next-level multitaskers. However, with so many operating as small businesses, a large portion are running things without a dedicated shipping department. Doing this may be necessary, but it’s easy to make costly mistakes. By looking at what errors are the most important to be wary of, retailers can better sort out the correct way to manage their small package shipping. Let’s take a look at the top three retail shipping mistakes to avoid, starting with #1.

Mistake 1 - Giving inbound shipment control to your vendors 

When you’re receiving inbound shipments, oftentimes the shipping is arranged by vendors. This may seem like the easy way to go, but you could be overpaying on each shipment from every vendor, compounding cost and other challenges that may affect your business. When the vendor arranges your shipping, they choose the carrier and control the cost of transportation, making this a very common retail shipping mistake.

Why choose inbound collect over vendor prepaid?

Choosing inbound collect shipping over vendor prepaid can give you better control over what you’re spending on your shipments and which carrier is used. You can also control which services your business needs, such as specialized equipment or accessorials like liftgates. Additionally, being invoiced directly by the carrier may eliminate any handling or markup fees your vendor could add into the total charges. 

PartnerShip can help simplify the process

While managing your inbound orders may seem like a lot of work, partnering with a 3PL can help reduce the amount of effort you have to put in. A quality 3PL like PartnerShip can provide you with competitive pricing and determine if switching from vendor prepaid to inbound collect makes for your business. Inbound experts at PartnerShip can also help create routing instructions and review and enforce vendor compliance. 

Mistake 2 - Ignoring DIM weight pricing

Dimensional (DIM) weight pricing is a strategy implemented by carriers to offset the cost, time, and energy spent on moving large or bulky shipments through the small package network. This pricing structure focuses on the amount of space your shipment takes up in relation to its actual weight. Overlooking the impact of DIM weight pricing on your total costs is a crucial retail shipping mistake.

Your DIM weight is determined by the dimensions of your shipment. To cut down on time wasted in your already-packed schedule, we have created a DIM weight calculator. If the figure you calculate is higher than your actual weight, then that is what you will be billed on. 

Luckily, there are some strategies that retailers can use to help limit DIM weight charges:

  • Right-size your packages by minimizing wasted space inside boxes
  • Consolidate orders to reduce the total amount of packages being sent

ECommerce Shipping Stat

Why retailers need to be mindful of DIM weight

Retailers ship a lot of small packages, whether you’re receiving orders from suppliers or shipping purchases out to customers. In fact, a large component of retail sales are comprised of ecommerce. Due to the sheer volume of packages being shipped, costs can multiply rapidly, especially if your packages are subject to DIM weight pricing. Retailers must be strategic about how orders are packaged.

Mistake 3 - Not taking advantage of shipping discounts

The worst shipping mistake that retailers can make is assuming the current rates you’re getting are the best available to you. While large retailers may be able to negotiate substantial discounts directly with FedEx or UPS, it’s more challenging for smaller businesses, especially when many of the discounts are based on volume or may just be promotional. 

Small businesses can succeed

Smaller retail businesses can still obtain discounts through their affiliations. Trade associations, chambers of commerce, or other organizations will oftentimes offer discounts to businesses. By partnering with a variety of service providers, your membership dues can be offset by the benefits and discounts you receive.

PartnerShip works with over 130 trade associations and other groups, including several well-known retail organizations, like NSRA and NAMM. By leveraging carrier relationships and industry connections, we help make exclusive FedEx discounts available to retailers, no matter the size of your business or shipping volume.  

Avoiding mistakes is the first step to successful small package shipping

Small package shipping can be challenging for any team, especially for smaller retail businesses who may not even have a dedicated shipping department. Retailers must keep in mind that they have a few extra important shipping mistakes to avoid that could cause you to pay more for shipping than necessary.

No matter the size of your retail business, avoiding these common pitfalls can ensure smooth shipping and lower costs. PartnerShip can help with every one of these challenges, including obtaining competitive pricing. Get in touch with the small package experts at PartnerShip to learn more.

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How to Save on Shipping While Reducing Packaging Waste

April 11, 2022 at 11:22 AMJen Deming
Packaging Waste Blog

We love shopping online. Nothing beats the convenience of delivery, variety of product options, and satisfaction of adding things to a virtual cart and clicking ‘buy now’. Unfortunately, the perks of ecommerce do have a flipside - the environmental impact of shipment packaging waste. Ecommerce shipping actually has about four times as many touch-points as regular retail. This means more packing and unpacking individual orders to customers – leading to even more packaging waste. Savvy e-retailers are minimizing their environmental impact by using eco-friendly shipping tactics and by using less wasteful packaging procedures. Even better, reducing your shipment packaging waste is a sustainable practice that is both eco-friendly and a smart way to lower shipping costs, through these three easy tips.

Online order touchpoint graphicTip 1: Reduce the amount of your packaging 

If you’re a shrewd retailer, you know that your choice of packaging can protect your product, prevent damage, and enhance the value of your brand through the unboxing experience. But not every product ordered online needs to be shipped within layer upon layer of branded boxes and plastic packaging. Taking a “less is more” approach can help balance both cost and structural integrity, in addition to lowering packaging waste. 

Box versus mailer graphic

When you’re considering what types of shipment packaging to use, retailers have a ton of options. Packaging materials include paper, plastic, or chipboard boxes, foil or poly envelopes, bubble mailers, jute, vinyl, or cotton bags, and many other options. Dunnage, or the internal “protective” material inside the shipment can be Styrofoam, cardboard, kraft paper, soft or rigid plastics, and bubble wrap. Each option has its own cost, key benefit, and impact on the environment. Research what types of shipment packaging make the most sense to adequately protect your product, and then eliminate the use of unnecessary extra materials. Always keep in mind that you can reduce your initial cost and environmental impact by choosing simple, but effective shipment packaging that makes sense for your product and consumer.

Tip 2: Reduce the weight and dimensions of your shipment 

It’s clear that wasteful packaging procedures can drive up initial costs, but keep in mind that any unnecessary materials can also affect your shipment rates due to weight and density. Your parcel rate is determined in large part by region, distance traveled, and weight. Heavy shipments put more strain on trucks and utilize more fuel when hauling loads. As a result, carriers will charge you more for added weight.Trucking C02 emissions graphic

Another factor that can affect your shipment cost is dimensional weight. DIM weight pricing is used by carriers to offset the cost of moving large and bulky shipments in their network. This pricing strategy focuses not just on the actual weight, but also the amount of space your shipment takes up. Your DIM weight is determined by the dimensions of your shipment. If the calculated DIM weight is higher than the actual weight, your shipment will be rated on that.

Elaborate packaging with multiple components inside runs the risk of wasted interior space, so making sure that you right-size your package is important. Ensure that there is no empty space within your shipping box after the product and protective materials are added in. Reducing wasted space within your shipment can lower your final bill, and greatly reduces packaging waste that can be harmful to the environment. 

Tip 3: Encourage your customer to use your packaging for returns 

With more people preferring to shop online, the need for convenient returns options increases. Being intentional in how you approach your returns can help lower reverse logistics costs while remaining environmentally conscious.

Every online shopper knows that preparing to ship a return can be a pain.  No one loves rummaging through a garage of broken-down boxes hoping to find one adequate for use. It’s not as simple as grabbing an empty box - the package must be structurally sound and free of pre-existing labels to avoid hiccups on the road. 

Do your customers (and yourself) a favor, and make this process even easier by utilizing return-ready packaging for your orders, including resealable boxes, envelopes, and mailers.  Include pre-printed shipping labels with return addresses and packing slips to help make the process even simpler. By providing return-ready packaging, you’re ensuring that the package is right-sized for pre-paid shipping labels and services. As a retailer, you’re taking steps to avoid possible damages or loss by providing packaging options that securely protect your product while in transit. 

In short, by providing return-ready packaging, you’re taking back control of return shipments by managing several variables that may lead to costly surprises and packaging waste. 

Reducing packaging waste benefits everyone

Retailers have a unique opportunity to improve the eco-footprint left by their businesses. Environmentally friendly shipping practices can help lower emissions on the road, reduce packaging waste headed for landfills, and lower costs. To further improve your environmental impact, consider working with a sustainably minded shipping provider, like PartnerShip. We elect to work with carriers that prioritize energy efficiency in trucks and facilities, minimize air-pollution, and offer transparency through data about fuel usage and impact. Optimizing your packaging is a smart place to start – learn how with our downloadable, free white paper.

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2021 Year-End Planning for Your FedEx and UPS Shipments

November 15, 2021 at 9:43 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Year-End Planning for Your FedEx and UPS Shipments

The end of the year is usually pretty hectic for a lot of businesses, but 2021 is proving to be one for the books. As you navigate the holiday season and prepare for the year ahead, you’ll want to heed our warnings for your FedEx and UPS parcel shipments.

Ship early
We can’t stress this enough. Delays are becoming more common and will likely get worse the closer we get to Christmas. The FedEx and UPS networks are very strained right now. Fueled by the pandemic and all of its ripple effects, demand for parcel services is at an all-time high. Both FedEx and UPS have suspended service guarantees for their ground services and some of their air/express services, which means you can’t leave things up to chance. Ship early and build in plenty of extra time where you can so you don’t run into major disruptions.

Review holiday shipping deadlines
For retailers, this is especially important. As customers place their orders for holiday gifts, they’ll want to know that they’ll receive them before the big day. FedEx and UPS have released their shipping deadlines, so make sure to review them and plan accordingly. That way you’ll be able to manage expectations appropriately and keep your customers happy.

Prepare for the 2022 rate increases
Don’t sleep on the fact that after you make it through the holiday season, your FedEx and UPS rates will be going up. Both carriers announced that they will be increasing their rates by an average of 5.9%. It’s tempting to take that announced average and budget for your costs to go up by that much, but unfortunately it’s not that simple.

How much your rates will go up in the new year will largely depend on which services you use, your package characteristics, and where you’re shipping to/from. That 5.9% average also doesn’t account for surcharges which can drive up your costs even more. If this all sounds like a major analysis that you don’t have the time to conduct, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve reviewed the updated rate charts for you. Download our free guide to see a full analysis of what you can expect.

The Essential Guide to the 2022 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases.