Providing customers with fast shipping options is vital to success, but for items on the heavier side, this can end up costing you an arm and a leg. Small packages? Those are easy to ship, and major carriers often give you nice discounts on them. But what about the big stuff?
When it comes to the shipping process, big carriers have come prepared to efficiently manage the logistics of oversized shipping. USPS and FedEx can even have heavy items delivered by the next business day. But at what cost?
Well, there’s a blueprint that you can follow to cut heavy package shipping costs down significantly and avoid unwanted expenses. If you trim the costs down from all around, the result is noticeable savings.
How to Ship Large Items
The right packing method ensures the safety of your large items. Here are four shipping strategies for oversized products:
Use Sturdy Boxes
Naturally, heavier and larger items need sturdier boxes. Always use new boxes when shipping large items because secondhand boxes may have some wear and tear on them.
If you can’t find double-walled or reinforced boxes, pack your original box in a larger box to add extra protection layers. Make sure to add extra cushioning with bubble wrap or packing peanuts between the boxes to minimize movement during transit.
Seal With Heavy-Duty Packing Tape
Don’t be cheap by using duct tape or masking tape. When sealing boxes containing large objects, always use heavy-duty packing tape to seal every seam of your box so it won’t break open.
Calculate Package Dimensions and Cost
Oversized shipping can be expensive, so calculate your package’s weight, length and girth before going to the mail carrier. Once you have the package’s dimensions, you can calculate a shipping estimate and know how much money to prepare.
Consider Dividing the Shipment if Possible
Sometimes, sending your items in several boxes is cheaper than sending all of them in one box, even if there’s only one recipient. Consider dividing your shipment if the cost of shipping several boxes at once is cheaper than sending all the items in one box.
What to Consider When Shipping Heavy Items
When it comes to shipping heavy items and figuring out how to cut costs, you first need to ask, what am I being charged for? Knowing what factors count towards the shipping rates helps you direct your attention towards trimming these costs.
The concept of dimensional weight was introduced around 2015, and it differs from your package’s actual weight. Dimensional weight is a theoretical weight that factors into your package’s dimensions. Shipping companies adopted this model because they lost money on large packages that weighed less.
How does this concern you? Well, when your shipping partner calculates the shipping fees, they will take the greater of the two weights – dimensional or actual – into account. If your package weighs less than its dimensional weight, that’s what you’ll be charged for – so this is important to look into beforehand.
Fragility of Items
If the goods you are having delivered are damaged during the shipping process, then that’s going to send your costs sky-high. Damaged goods mean expensive returns and refunds, which you really want to avoid. So if you’re looking to ship items that need extra care, find a carrier that offers commendable fragile shipping services.
Origin and Destination of the Package
Big or small, the shipping fees you pay on a package will always incorporate the shipping zone into the calculation. This means that if the package travels a long distance to reach the customer, it will cost you more.
How can you cut these costs down? Opt for a distributed inventory! You can dramatically reduce shipping costs with distributed fulfillment centers in strategic locations.
Carrier Being Used
The shipping costs you pay also depend on which carrier you’re using. Some are more generous when it comes to shipping oversized or fragile items, while others aren’t so much.
Type of Service Being Used
Shipping fees also depend on the shipping services you’re going for. Is it a 2-day delivery? Is it next-day delivery? Does the product need to be shipped internationally? Also, the price increment for shipping zones varies with the type of service. So, your zone-to-zone shipping fees for 2-day delivery may not increase as much as for overnight delivery.
Saving Money When Shipping Large Items for Small Business
As a small business owner, shipping large items can be expensive. Here are some top tips to try the next time you’re sending oversized products:
Reduce Package Weight
Heavier packages are more expensive to ship. While you can’t reduce your product’s weight, you can use lighter packaging to cut shipping costs.
Some good ways to reduce package weight are:
- Pack items in corrugated cardboard boxes.
- Use lightweight cushioning like air pillows and bubble wrap.
- Design custom lightweight packages that fit your products perfectly.
Reducing your package weight may only save you a few cents per package, but the savings add up, and you’ll save hundreds of dollars in the long run.
Buy Appropriately-Sized Packages
Many businesses adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to packaging, where they buy a lot of big boxes and use them to ship everything. While convenient, using large boxes to ship small products means paying more because of the bigger packages.
Instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, you can buy several types of boxes that perfectly fit all your products and use them appropriately. This approach cuts down your average package size, meaning you’ll save on shipping costs.
Choose Flat-Rate Shipping
Flat-rate shipping means the delivery cost is always the same, regardless of the package’s dimensions. If you can get a reasonable flat-rate shipping cost, you don’t have to worry about selling oversized products anymore because you’ll be charged the same regardless of package size.
Provide Local Delivery and Pickup
If your business sells locally, you can provide local delivery or curbside pickup to people in your area. Since you can assign staff to deliver products or have buyers come to pick their purchases up, you can reduce or even eliminate the cost of shipping.
Best Way to Ship Large, Heavy Items
Major carriers have their own prices and services for shipping heavy and oversized items; one carrier isn’t necessarily better than another across the board. You need to determine which carrier specifically offers you the best package for what you’re shipping.
Carriers such as USPS, UPS and FedEx provide services to small businesses and even individuals, so they put their prices up in the open for you to see easily. But freight carriers such as DHL and FedEx freight that focus on serving large businesses don’t have their prices up publicly, so you need to contact them for a quote.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a carrier to ship oversized items:
- Package dimensions: Your package’s size is the first thing that determines your shipping rates. Choose a carrier that offers reasonable rates for large packages.
- Item fragility: If you’re shipping fragile items, choose a carrier service renowned for delivering fragile shipments safely.
- Services offered: Depending on your client base, you may need specialized services like next-day delivery or international shipping. Choose a carrier that provides all the services you need.
Shipping Services for Large Items
Many carriers offer large item shipping solutions for your business, but each offers different benefits. Here, we look at three of the best large item shipping companies available today:
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the largest carrier, so it should be no surprise that they offer pretty diverse shipping solutions to cater to different needs.
Priority Mail: 1-3 days
The USPS Priority Mail option is available for items that weigh 70 pounds and under, and the packages range from small envelopes to large boxes of around 1 ft x 1ft x 6 inches. If you’re looking to send a heavy item that is small or medium-sized in a reasonable amount of time, then the Priority Mail option is a good choice. While it’s not the fastest option, the delivery service gets the items to your customers within 1-3 days, which is great.
Priority Mail Express: Overnight
The Priority Mail Express is USPS’s fastest shipping option, where orders are guaranteed to reach your customers by the next business day. For packages under 70 pounds, the Priority Mail Express option is good if you can fit the item into the flat rate shipping envelope. Otherwise, the prices are pretty high for larger packages, and you might be better off with a different carrier.
Media Mail: 2-10 days
Media Mail is a niche-specific shipping option from which select eCommerce businesses can benefit massively. With Media Mail, media items such as CDs, DVDs and books can be shipped at extremely affordable rates – the best rates you’ll find. So if you’ve got some heavy media items that need to be delivered, Media Mail is your best bet.
Ground: 2-8 days
If your package is too big to fit in the Priority Mail flat rate box, then enter the Ground shipping option. This option still limits you to 70 pounds, but the size limits are less restrictive.
As you can see, the trade-off is that Ground shipping is a lot slower than Priority Mail. The prices are calculated depending on the shipping zone and weight.
Since we’re discussing major carriers, it should be no surprise that FedEx made it to the list.
Ground: 1-7 days
FedEx doesn’t offer you the same guaranteed speed options as USPS, but they make up for it by offering you more liberal weight options. Unlike USPS, which limits you to 70 pounds, FedEx is far more generous, giving you the option to ship items as heavy as 150 pounds. They’re also more relaxed about package sizes – letting you ship items as large as 108 inches long or 165 inches for length plus girth.
So if your items are too big or too heavy for USPS, then head on over to FedEx.
Freight: Priority or Economy
If you’re shipping heavy items in large volumes, FedEx’s Freight option is one of the best picks. The prices vary immensely, depending on the product’s size and the shipping zone, but you’ll get an exceptional rate if you’re shipping a lot of oversized items.
Need international shipping taken care of effectively? Enter DHL, one of the best freight shipping carriers out there.
DHL’s Air freight option has your goods delivered through flights that are scheduled along major routes. The best part about the Air freight service is that there are many options to choose from depending on your needs.
Need door-to-door, airport-to-door, or door-to-airport delivery taken care of? DHL will manage all three. If speed is a priority, then Urgent Air Freight will have your delivery taken care of in just 1-2 business days. If you’re not in a rush, then Air Economy takes care of shipments within 5-7 days. If you have special cargo or temperature-sensitive items, DHL has options for those too, including delivering shipments in temperature-controlled environments.
Similar to the Air freight option, the Ocean freight service is great for shipping heavy items in bulk, except overseas rather than by air. The two main options are Full Container (FCL) and Less Than Container (LCL), but they offer special options for freight shipments like temperature-controlled environments and transportation facilities for liquids.
Our advice? If you’re looking to send big, bulky items in large quantities, then freight shipping is the way to go.
What to Do Before Shipping Large and Heavy Items
Before shipping large and heavy items, it’s important to ensure they are properly secured and in packages of the right dimensions. This involves using the right amount of dunnage where appropriate, and if you’re shipping fragile items, opt for something like bubble wrap to keep it safe. Large and heavy items are usually more costly, so you really can’t afford to have them damaged in shipping.
What’s an Oversized Item?
A package is considered ‘oversized’ when it’s either too large, too heavy, or a combination of both. Carriers traditionally consider packages oversized if the item’s length and girth are greater than 165 inches, if the goods weigh more than 150lbs, or if the length is greater than 108 inches. However, many carriers now limit the combined length to 130 inches. Let’s see what each carrier considers ‘oversized.’
USPS classifies items as oversized if they have a length of 108 inches and no more than 130 inches combined length and girth. For this range, businesses pay a standard Parcel Select oversized fee which is reasonable. Beyond these dimensions, though, you’ll have to contact USPS for a specific quote. USPS specifies oversized items by dimensions but not weight.
UPS has three criteria for classifying an item as oversized; if its weight is more than 150lbs, if the length alone is more than 108 inches, or if the combined length and girth exceed 165 inches. If your package dimensions or weight fall under these conditions, then you will have to pay UPS’s Over Maximum Limits charges subject to DIM.
FedEx classifies items as oversized if the length exceeds 96 inches or 130 inches in length plus girth. Dimensional weight calculations apply to oversized product calculations, and there is a minimum 90lbs village weight charge too. While FedEx still lets you ship oversized products by ground, there is an oversized shipping charge of $90 per parcel. Also, during annual peak shipping times, an additional charge called the oversized peak surcharge ($37.5 per package) is applicable too. So, FedEx may not be the most cost-effective option.
DHL classifies an oversized item as one that exceeds 70kg (around 155lbs) in weight or has any one dimension that exceeds 120 cm (that’s 47.24 inches). So, for oversized classification, DHL considers all the dimensions rather than the length. The oversized package cost is $89, but they have different services available that you can contact them about.
How to Ship Large or Oversized Items
When it comes to shipping your large or oversized items, there are two things to prioritize; 1) keep the shipping fee as low as possible and 2) minimize the risk of damage. The steps themselves are quite straightforward:
1. Package Your Item Properly
This goes without saying, but we’ll mention it anyway – make sure that your items are secured in place and with great care.
2. Take Measurements
Remember how we discussed the dimensional weight pricing model earlier? Well, when getting your items ready for shipping, look for the most efficient packaging option. This will not only help you score a lower shipping fee but is also important for keeping the goods safe. If your package dimensions are off relative to the items inside, then they might get tossed around during shipping and consequently damaged.
3. Weigh Your Package
Weigh your package beforehand so you know exactly what pricing options it falls under. Is your package too heavy to be shipped by USPS’s conventional options, for example? Weighing your package is an important part of determining the right carrier and shipping option.
4. Calculate Rates
Calculate the rates that you will have to pay depending on the options available to you. Can you afford to go for the express options, or will that cut your profit margins down? Is one carrier giving you a better rate for your product’s dimensions?
5. Book and Pay
Now that you’ve worked out which option is best for shipping your package, go ahead and book it!
6. Print Your Shipping Labels
Print your shipping labels out and fill the required details in – where is the package going to, how much does it weigh, etc. Different carriers have different shipping labels, so fill them in as required.
7. Label Your Package
Put the labels on your package so that they’re ready to go!
8. Send the Package
All that’s left now is to send your package and wait for your customers to receive it. Hit the go button!
Let ShipHero Handle Heavy Item Fulfillment
Heavy item fulfillment can be quite tedious, and not every business is equipped to manage oversized shipping efficiently. There are so many factors involved – calculating the weight, comparing weight vs dimensional weight, getting the right package sizes, figuring out which categories your packages fall under and more. So if this all seems too much for you, consider outsourcing the load to a competent third-party logistics partner.
ShipHero is a powerful warehouse management solution that many leading third-party logistics providers rely on. ShipHero also offers eCommerce merchants outsourced fulfillment options – we’ll take the hassle of heavy item fulfillment off your hands and perform all the calculations and leg work for you.
Distributed Fulfillment Centers
Remember how shipping zones were a big factor in calculating shipping fees and how a distributed inventory can help combat this problem? Well, ShipHero has you covered here too. Don’t have your own distributed fulfillment centers? That’s fine; you can have your inventory distributed amongst our own, ultimately reducing shipping distances.
Save on Shipping Costs
An experienced logistics partner like ShipHero can help you make major savings on oversized shipping costs. With distributed fulfillment centers cutting delivery times and shipping costs down, powerful software solutions and an experienced team handling the technical stuff, ShipHero is the logistics solution that can help you slash unnecessary costs.
Shipping Heavy Items FAQs
How much does it cost to ship 100 lbs?
This depends on what carrier you are using. For example, FedEx considers a 100 lbs package oversized, so a $90 oversized fee will apply. However, carriers like DHL and FedEx may not consider this package oversized, so that shipping costs will be lower.
What is the cheapest way to ship heavy items?
There is no single cheapest way to ship heavy items. Many factors come into play, including the package dimensions, package weight, dimensional weight, the type of items and whether or not you have a distributed inventory. A reliable logistics solution partner can help you find the most cost-effective way to ship heavy items.
How do you ship heavy items cheaply?
To ship heavy items cheaply, you need to reduce as much weight as you can. That’s why large items must be properly packaged in boxes, parcels or containers of the right dimensions. The packages need to be weighed and measured so that you can determine the most cost-effective way to have them delivered. Correctly labeling packages before shipping them off is vital to make sure they reach the right destination.
How much does it cost to ship a 25-pound box?
This depends on many factors, including the carrier, the shipping option you are using and where the box is going. For example, let’s look at USPS’s Parcel Select Ground option, which is one of the slowest and most cost-effective delivery options. The 25-pound box can cost anywhere from $25 to above $70, depending on the shipping zone it’s headed.
Shipping heavy and oversized items involves far more complications than you might have imagined. The worst part is that if you don’t take the time to perform the necessary calculations and consider all the important factors, your business may incur significant losses. You’re all set if you have a dedicated team with a skill set that can optimize your heavy item fulfillment.
If oversized shipping seems daunting and beyond what your business can comfortably handle, look no further than ShipHero. Outsourcing your fulfillment process to us means that we’ll work all the technicalities out for you, and find the most cost-effective way to ship your heavy and oversized products.