Five Common Shipping Mistakes Made by Small Businesses

There is no reason to make a product if you aren’t going to sell it. And in order to sell it, you have to get it to your customers. Unfortunately, shipping can quickly become confusing and potentially costly if you are unfamiliar with the process. Here are five common shipping mistakes small businesses make:

Using the cheapest shipping method possible

We all appreciate a good bargain, especially when running a business. But cheaper isn’t always better. Regular mail costs less than other shipping methods, but it doesn’t allow easily for tracking and has been known to be slightly less reliable. When shipping larger quantities of products, the same problem exists: some carriers or logistics companies that are cheaper may not provide the same level of service as those who charge a bit more. So when you are choosing how to ship your products, make sure to factor in the potential costs involved with sub-par service if you decide to pay less up front.

Failing to completely understand the shipping process

On the surface, getting a product from one place to another doesn’t seem all that difficult. Depending on how you’re sending it and where you’re sending it to, it may be harder than it looks. If you are shipping something to, from, or through California, there are numerous rules that must be followed based on their air-quality regulations. If you need to move something oversized, you may need an escort, a police escort, or even permission to shut down certain roads or overpasses. Do you know what type of truck your product needs to be shipped on? There are several. It’s often cheaper to ship by rail, but do you know how much longer it will take, and can you wait that long? Are you familiar with hours of service laws that affect how long a driver can be on the road and subsequently when your product will arrive at its destination?

Incorrectly estimating the shipping cost

Do you think that a big box of feathers will cost less to ship than a small box of rocks? You’re not alone. Many people think the heavier the box is, the more it will cost, but that’s not always true. Dimensional weight – the size of the box – also comes into play.

Unknown and potentially confusing costs also exist in larger shipping situations. The cost of shipping the same amount of your product the exact same distance can vary drastically based on where it is being picked up, where it is being dropped off, and what time it needs to be delivered.

Thinking international shipping is the same

It’s not. There are a lot of additional costs and customs can be very hard to navigate. Certain countries have additional taxes and duties that you can end up paying if you don’t know about them beforehand and make arrangements to have the receiver pay them. And obviously, unless you’re shipping to Canada or South America, any international shipping has to be done by air or overseas. So your products will most likely be on a truck, then on a plane or boat, then back on a truck before they reach their destination, which makes for some complicated logistics.

Not verifying information

Everyone is busy, and it can be tempting to rush through the shipping process just to get your products on their way. But not double-checking your shipping information can make it take even longer to get your product where it needs to go. So make sure the address is correct, make sure you have requested the right type of truck and have a qualified driver, make sure you know whether your shipment is being quoted in pounds or kilograms, make sure you know when the dock will accept your shipment. Taking a few extra minutes to confirm this information can end up saving you hours in the long run.


Keeping all of this in mind will make your shipping go smoother and allow you to focus your concern on other parts of your small business.