When your business involves shipping products, it’s all too easy to watch packaging and shipping costs eat away at your profit margins. But what is the alternative — passing along the costs to your customer?
In the age of ubiquitous free overnight and same-day shipping, charging too much for shipping can be a real deterrent to sales. But you don’t want to eat the cost, either. This is where an expert packaging and shipping partner can deliver real value.
We recently worked with Carma, a rapidly expanding transportation technology company, to come up with an innovative packaging solution to solve for exactly this challenge. At the end of the day, our custom packaging saved Carma $64,000 in postage over the first 9 months. If you’re facing a similar packaging challenge, download the full Carma case study and read the four steps we took to meet Carma’s needs in a cost-effective, creative way.
Step 1: Understand the USPS® Requirements You’re Working With
Whether you’re shipping products or sending marketing mail, the USPS has postal standards that must be met, and they vary depending on the type of mail you’re sending. For example, postage for bound printed matter is charged by the half-pound, whereas with a service like Commercial Mail Parcel Select, any fraction of a pound is considered a whole pound and priced as such. This might not seem like a huge difference, but when you’re shipping 50,000 units, those dollars and cents add up!
In the case of Carma, our goal was to ship a small Bluetooth device as a flat. Shipping as a flat is much less expensive than shipping as a parcel, but the USPS has strict requirements for flats, including a maximum thickness of 0.75”. We took a look at Carma’s product and, knowing the full requirements for flats, knew we would be able to make it work with a little creativity.
Step 2: Consider the Protection Your Product Requires
Are you sending something that’s breakable? Even if it’s not exactly fragile, your package will sustain some bumps and bruises while making its way through the mail system. This is just a fact of life, and it’s better to plan for it ahead of time and make sure your product is protected.
Since we were able to ship Carma’s product as a flat — learn how we did it here — we actually had to design a tray for the Bluetooth device as part of the packaging, another USPS requirement. With a custom package designed specifically for Carma’s product, we knew every Bluetooth device would arrive safe and sound.
Step 3: Don’t Forget About Fulfillment
How many orders do you expect? How quickly do you need to turn them around? How will you receive and fulfill them?
With Carma, we knew we were expecting tens of thousands of orders right off the bat, and those orders needed to be shipped out within 24-48 hours. We set up a streamlined online ordering system so that orders placed through Carma’s website were instantly pushed to Varispark’s systems for immediate fulfillment.
Step 4: Find a Partner Who’s Willing to Get Creative
Before coming to Varispark, Carma’s Vice President of Operations, Katy Emerson, had spoken with multiple vendors who told her that her Bluetooth device, with standard packaging, would not be able to go in the mail as a flat. Finding the right solution took some creative thinking. Not only did we rely on our decades of shipping expertise, but we also collaborated with our extensive network of partners to find a truly innovative solution — one that had a huge impact on Carma’s bottom line.