Running a small business involves a number of responsibilities: formulating an idea, generating a product, and marketing it to customers. Shipping is just as important as any of these steps, and the effectiveness of your shipment can make or break a customer’s opinion of your work. So, naturally, you’ll need to make a choice about which shipping service will best suit your business’ needs. There isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all response, and it will largely vary depending on your package’s destination, size, and weight. However, as you’ll come to see, you’ll find that some couriers offer superior service in certain arenas. So with that, here is a breakdown of the best shipping options for small businesses in 2021.
Best for Small Packages, Best Overall: USPS
In terms of best service, relevant to small businesses, USPS offers a number of great options. They offer some of the best shipping rates for small business, the ability to pay, print, and ship online, and even options for direct advertising to potential clients.
On top of overall quality, it’s often bandied about that they’re the best small package service provider. USPS First Class Mail offers the most competitive rates for lightweight packages (under 1 lb). For those less weighty media shipments (DVDs, books), you can use USPS Media Mail, specifically.
Allowing for slightly heavier packages is USPS Priority Mail, which is still reputable for excellent pricing. You can also utilize their Priority Mail Express option for quicker shipments to your customers, more in line with traditional overnight shipping.
Let’s not forget USPS Flat Shipping Envelopes, which, if you’re shipping out something domestically that adheres to standard sizing, can save you a pretty chunk of change. These shipping materials can be ordered and delivered to you for free.
Aside from these types of shipments, USPS also offers additional resources that can really push a small business to the next level:
- The USPS Priority Mail Starter Kit is a free resource, designed to get small businesses up and running. It even helps set up a PO Box for your company!
- If you’re working from home, consider their Home Pickup service, which enables quick and easy delivery from your residence at no extra cost.
- USPS offers a certificate of mailing for the majority of its services. This is an excellent resource for a small business and can illustrate reliability to your customers. It surpasses the standard tracking number because if there’s ever a dispute about whether or not you mailed your item, you can produce your certificate as evidence.
- With USPS you can build up loyalty credits and receive discounts using their services.
Best for Large Packages: UPS
Anything above 5 pounds and up is considered a large package, and UPS is able to offer the best shipping for small business in this category. More specifically, their UPS Ground service can take your money the extra mile, allowing you to ship larger packages in 1-5 days.
Delving further into their options for small business owners:
- The UPS Small Business Program is catered specifically to small companies to help maximize their shipping solutions. You can schedule a free virtual brainstorming session with one of their specialists to help cut costs and reduce your growing pains.
- They provide business discounts for small business owners and they provide rewards for continued service.
- UPS allows users to schedule pickups at their convenience. If you have a last-minute package to ship or something of a time-sensitive nature, your entire day shouldn’t be lost to waiting around for the delivery van. Schedule a delivery pickup for ground, air, or international shipments.
- Their online platform, WoldShip, helps reduce costly mistakes, ensures your compliance with customs, allows for the printing of shipment labels, tracks your deliveries, and much more.
Best for Quick Delivery: FedEx
FedEx is often cited as being one of the fastest programs for small business owners. As they do shipments every day of the week (including Saturday and Sunday), they’re able to get deliveries out faster. Additionally, with features like scheduled pickups and temperature-controlled shipping, you can feel confident your shipment will arrive to your customers as-intended and in a timely manner.
Some services that small business owners might find helpful include:
- FedEx Small Business, which is geared towards companies that need help with their shipping solutions. To help cut costs, this program offers a rewards program. There’s also the Packaging Help Hub, which can educate participants on different packaging options, and allows them to calculate pricing ahead of time.
- A very exciting opportunity for Small Business Owners is the FedEx Small Business Grant Competition. Help annually, the first place winner will receive $50,000 to put towards their small business.
Best for International Shipments: DHL
As one might expect, DHL takes the lead on delivering exceptional international service. If your business has expanded outside of the confines of your home country, DHL is going to be an excellent resource for you.
Delivering to more than 220 countries and territories, they’re able to ship great distances in a timely manner, most often somewhere between 3-8 business days, worldwide. While it can be scary to release your package out into the world, you can rest in the knowledge that they provide real-time tracking to monitor your package.
Given that their services vary so widely, it’s difficult to provide a consistent price estimate for their shipments. You can use an online shipping calculator to see their rates stacked against competitors, or you can use their own price estimate tool on the DHL website to better set expectations.
Some of their small business services include:
- Provision of guidance on navigating customs, so your packages don’t get holed up in some German warehouse, gathering dust.
- They’re able to offer insurances specific to your type of shipment (freight, cargo, etc).
- DHL provides lots of helpful resources to businesses and they work hard to provide you with as many instructions as possible to better understand the international shipping experience. They also provide a primer on international trade, with basics about customs, importing, and exporting.
All in all, these four companies are working to provide the best shipping for small business. Take the time to recognize which options are going to propel your shipments to the next level, and get your product out there!