How to Get Your Postage Costs Right Every Time

18 August 2014

If you’re running your own small business, you’ll know how time-consuming and complicated shipping can be – especially if you don’t have the resources to use a logistics provider. Postal charges and courier costs are forever changing and if you don’t keep up to speed, you’re liable to end up underpaying when you send out an order. If that happens, your customer will have to foot the bill for the remainder and they’re unlikely to be impressed.

A small difference in postage could cost your business a lot more if customers shop elsewhere next time. To make sure you don’t lose out, it’s vital to get your postage costs right every time you send out an order. Here are five ways to ensure you deliver satisfaction to your customers.

1. Keep a list of up-to-date prices. Royal Mail has a handy printable pricing chart so there’s no excuse for not keeping up with the latest postal tariffs. Make a list of anything you regularly send out in the post – from goods to invoices – and mark current prices alongside the items. That way you won’t have to keep checking the same information. If you use a specific carrier, make sure you stay up to date with their latest prices and regulations. The best way to do this is to sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media.

2. Weigh everything accurately. You can’t afford to guess when it comes to weight-based postal tariffs and standing on the bathroom scales with a package under your arm won’t serve you well either. Unless you’re only sending small letters by mail, you’ll need to buy proper postal weighing scales. Spend a bit more to ensure you get a good set of scales – most carriers charge by weight and size so it’s important to be as accurate as possible. As well as traditional scales, you can also use a digital franking machine to measure and weigh your letter or package at the touch of a button.

3. Check your carrier’s shipping requirements. Each carrier has its own specific rules for how they charge according to size and weight. For example, Royal Mail has a maximum length, width and thickness, as well as a maximum weight, for parcels and letters. As charges are higher for large letters, you should consider folding A4 documents in half so that they fit into a C5 envelope – that way you’ll save money. Royal Mail also has a sizing charge guide template that is worth buying to keep in the office. Considering that every time you underpay on an item, you’ll be charged a £1 fee plus the difference in postage – paid by your disgruntled customer – this is well worth the small investment.

4. Only use the packaging you require. The weight and size of your mail item will depend not only on what you’re sending but how you package it. Don’t wrap things up in multiple layers unless your item is fragile as every extra layer will add to the weight and cost of your item. While cardboard boxes can offer added protection, they also weigh more than padded envelopes. You need to strike a balance between ensuring your mail is properly protected en route to its destination, and spending money unnecessarily. To keep the cost of packaging as low as possible, buy in bulk to receive a discount.

5. Don’t forget to update your franking machine. Investing in a franking machine can make life much simpler – but only if you remember to update it when Royal Mail changes its tariffs. This information should be supplied by your franking provider but if you handle a lot of mail items, you’ll want to know as soon as changes are announced to calculate the additional cost to your business. Once new rates come into effect, don’t send anything out without updating your machine first.

By knowing the correct weight and size dimensions of your item and franking it with the latest rates, your customers will receive exactly what they’ve ordered and you’ll receive nothing but praise.



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