4 Ways to Reduce Shipping Costs with Your Packaging

Shipping Supplies

Mitigate Shipping Costs with Simple Tips!

You have probably noticed a surge in shipping costs over the past few years. You are likely also very aware of how these costs are affecting your bottom line.

This surge in shipping costs has affected both domestic and international transports. In a 2021 report, the World Trade Organization (according to the FBX Global Container freight index) claims that shipping rates began to surge in May 2020, resulting in 30 percent higher shipping rates by July 2020 compared to the previous year. Additionally, a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that domestic shipping rates in 2021 increased by 21 percent from 2020 rates. Some factors that have led to this uptick include increasing demand for delivered goods coupled with a pandemic-reduced workforce. Although some of these prices may be leveling off, they are not likely to go down anytime soon.

Thankfully, there are ways you can keep your shipping costs in check by re-thinking your packaging options. Because shipping costs largely depend on the weight and shape of the item you're shipping, here are four tips to ponder when looking to reduce your shipping costs.

1) Consider the weight of the product

As package weight adds up, so can shipping costs. Exploring alternative container possibilities may be an option for your operation.

  • When shipping bulk product, consider poly drums as an alternative to steel drums. Part #26W55R, 55 Gallon Black Tight Head Steel Drum, Reconditioned, UN Rated, 2" & 3/4" Fittings, Unlined, weighs 30 lbs. A 55-gallon capacity plastic drum, such as Part #56W59B, 55 Gallon Blue Plastic Drum, UN Rated, 2" & 3/4" Fittings, weighs only 23.5 lbs. However, you will want to make sure whatever bulk material is being transported in the drum is compatible with the drum’s plastic composition.
  • Determine if lighter weight packaging is an option for your product. For example, plastic packaging generally weighs less than glass, which can add up to substantial savings when sending bulk orders. If you currently use glass as your packaging medium, you may want to determine if plastic is a viable option.

Compare these glass and plastic beverage bottles. Both bottles offer the same 12 oz. capacity and both are FDA approved. Although the individual weight of each container is not that drastically different (1.1 oz. for the PET bottle vs. 14 oz. for the glass bottle), when shipping multiple units, the cost difference will add up.

Part #68W16D

16 oz. Clear PET Plastic Tamper Evident
Round Bottle, 38mm 358DBJ

0.069 lbs. each x 50 bottles = 3.45 lbs.

Plastic Bottle Shipping Weight

Part #30WD17

16 oz. Tall Pint Glass Milk Bottle, 48mm 48-Snap


0.892 lbs. each x 50 bottles = 44.6 lbs.

Glass Bottle Shipping Weight

2) Think about the size of the product

The package’s dimensions are also a major factor in calculating shipping rates. In fact, some carriers consider dimensional weight the top factor in determining shipping costs. Dimensional weight is how much space a package takes up on the truck or airplane during transport. For instance, using a box that’s too large for a lightweight, non-breakable item may result in higher shipping costs.

  • Try to reduce the dimensions of the package as much as possible. Some delivery companies charge more depending upon the size of the box. If the item is lightweight and not fragile, there’s no reason to pack it in a huge box. In this instance, using a smaller carton can save a significant amount. If the items you ship vary in size, multi-depth boxes can be a great way to accommodate various sized items as well as reducing the types of cartons you need on hand.
  • If you sell small, non-fragile products like clothing or other foldable items, shipping orders in mailers or poly mailer bags can be far more cost effective than boxes. Not only will these packaging options reduce the space that package takes up on a delivery truck, they may also reduce the need for other packing supplies such as tape and bubble packaging film, which can save even more money.
  • Fragile items may need additional cushioning to ensure the item does not break during transit. In those instances, a larger carton may be necessary.
  • Make sure the item fits in the carton you are using. Packing a box too full can cause the carton to burst during transit.

3) Don’t forget the shape of the packaging

Consolidating your packaging and finding the ideal carton for your product can be useful ways to reduce shipping costs over the long run.

  • Combining two or more products within one package can potentially save costs. In most scenarios, it would likely be more expensive to ship two separate packages than one package that weighs slightly more.
  • Use packaging that is as close to the item shape, if possible. Telescoping boxes are excellent options for longer, odd-sized items that can vary in length, such as flat-screen television sets, golf clubs, skis, rolled rugs and more.
  • You may want to opt for square-edged bottles over round. Square-edged bottles, when placed side by side in a carton, take up less space than round bottles. This can translate into smaller carton size for the same number of bottles in a case or on a pallet. Square bottles are also easier to stack on store shelves and they can stand out among your competition when vying for consumer attention.

Part #30WP04

4 oz. Paragon Glass Jar, 48mm 48-485

Round Bottles

Part #30WFS5

4 oz. French Square Glass Jar, 43mm 43-485

Square Bottles

4) Compare your packing materials

One effective method to ship your products is using corrugated cartons. They offer a lightweight yet strong packaging option. They’re relatively inexpensive, reusable and they protect more fragile items from scratching and breaking. Here are some more ideas to save on supply costs while protecting your products during shipment.

  • For smaller items to be shipped within the same carton as a larger product, such as an assembly with multiple pieces, you may want to substitute poly bags for boxes, if possible. Non-fragile items, such as screws or other smaller items are easily sorted into reclosable poly bags. These bags provide an excellent option for organizing smaller items in shipments, add minimal weight to the overall package and generally take up less dimensional space than boxes.

We offer a wide selection of containers, bags, shipping supplies and more in a wide variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate most products you need to ship. Need a unique size or shape? We can source it for you. Give us a call at 630.629.6600 or email us at Sales@TheCaryCompany.com.