Seven Common Shipping Mistakes

A quick rundown of the most common shipping mistakes and how you can avoid them
Frustrated with shipping mistakes

Have you ever heard the expression, “The devil is in the details?” When it comes to the shipping business, that saying couldn’t be more true. Shipping items can be costly and time-consuming if you don’t do it correctly…and to be real with you, most businesses aren’t! We don’t want you to fall into that same boat, so we’ve listed seven common shipping mistakes that people make below. These are the seven deadly sins of shipping, and we’re here to help you avoid them!

1. Bad Boxes

Believe it or not, bad boxes are one of the most common shipping mistakes that we see. You’d be surprised how often it happens (and how easy it is to prevent). Here’s a simple rule to follow: ALWAYS use new, sturdy boxes that won’t get crumpled under pressure during transit.

Speaking of boxes: If you’re an E-commerce business owner shipping out small boxes under 20 pounds, you should ALWAYS ship them Priority Mail Cubic. Priority Mail Cubic is a special mail class where the price of postage for your package isn’t based on its weight, but its outer dimensions—so you can fill those bad boys up without worrying about weight!

Priority Mail Cubic is BY FAR the cheapest way to ship small packages up to 20 pounds, but it isn’t something that USPS offers to the general public. The good news is, there’s free USPS shipping software called Pirate Ship that lets you ship Priority Mail Cubic with no hidden markups or contracts!

2. Incorrect Packaging

Did you know that improperly packaged items have a much higher chance of being damaged when they reach their destination? It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Some carriers will even deny damage claims due to improper packaging. Therefore, it’s extra important to make sure you’re preparing your package properly!

3. Wrong Address Information

This continues to be one of the most common shipping mistakes, and it’s so easy to avoid! If you think you’re immune, don’t get cocky. It happens to the best of us. The best way to avoid this is to double-check that your destination address is correct, including the zip code. If it’s not, your shipment could end up at the wrong address or returned back to you. Speaking of returns: USPS actually offers free returns for undeliverable packages, but UPS and FedEx will both charge you a fee for this. Be kind to yourself and make sure you get it right the first time!

4. Inaccurate Shipping Weight

Imagine that you’re in line to buy a plane ticket. If you were informed that your ticket price was based on how much your suitcase weighed, would you guess or make sure the weight you gave was accurate? That’s what we thought. Believe it or not, a lot of shippers guess when it comes to the weight of their shipment! This often results in too much or too little postage.

Your package will still be delivered if you haven’t purchased the correct amount of postage. However, don’t be surprised when you’re billed for the difference in postage at the full retail rate after the ship date! Don’t play the guessing game. Make sure you always take the time to weigh packages accurately. A simple bathroom scale should do the trick if you don’t have a shipping scale.

Pro Tip: If you’re an E-commerce business owner shipping out a lot of packages, paying full retail price for postage adds up fast. The good news is, Pirate Ship lets you take advantage of the best USPS discounts immediately! To be frank, buying postage at discounted rates is the only way your small business has a shot at competing with the big guys.

5. Choosing the Wrong USPS Class

The USPS divides mail into different services, called “classes.” Each USPS mail class has different features, postage prices, and pre-sorting requirements. For most shipments, the contents of your package and postage will determine the class of mail you choose. Choosing the wrong mail class can delay your package and can even leave your recipient having to pay for the difference in postage…and no one wants that. To help you figure out which mail class you should go with, we’ve outlined some below:

  • Priority Mail Express
  • Priority Mail
  • Parcel Select Ground

Pro Tip: Choosing the wrong mail class can also cause you to spend unnecessary amounts of money! For example, one of the biggest mistake a lot of shippers make is shipping Priority Mail Regional Rate instead of Priority Mail Cubic.

The Two Different USPS Pricing Tiers

USPS offers two pricing tiers within the different mail classes, which we’ve listed for you below:

  • Retail Pricing: What you’ll pay if you walk into your local Post Office or at USPS.com.
  • Commercial Pricing (formerly known as “Commercial Plus Pricing“): The most deeply discounted shipping rates available.

Pro Tip: Most online shipping software solutions will say they offer Commercial Pricing rates, but don’t be fooled! Almost all of them will nickel and dime you with hidden markups, monthly fees, or per-label costs. Pirate Ship is the ONLY shipping software that offers true Commercial rates with NO additional fees or volume requirements. Every single account gets access to Commercial Pricing rates for all USPS services. That means you get the deepest shipping discounts possible so your small business actually has a shot at playing in the big leagues.

6. Incorrect Package Dimensions

Make sure you’re using the correct dimensions for your package! Some of the carriers include dimensional weight into their pricing equations. What’s dimensional weight, you ask? Dimensional Weight Pricing (or DIM, for short) is a form of pricing on larger packages where the price is based on the package’s height, width, and length in addition to its weight. If you’re not using the correct dimensions or if you’re using too much packaging, DIM costs can be high. Those costs can sneak up on you fast and hit you right where it hurts: your wallet.

Pro Tip: Speaking of package dimensions, you can also save money by being mindful of your dimensions when shipping Priority Mail Cubic. If you need a push in the right direction, Pirate Ship has a Smart Cubic Calculator that helps you get the most bang for your buck out of your package dimensions. Type in a few different combinations of dimensions and see for yourself!

7. Ignoring Carrier Changes

Like anything else, shipping rates go up—and they go up often. All the major carriers raise postage prices every year, and unfortunately, it’s unavoidable no matter what. One of the most common shipping mistakes is not keeping up with the most current pricing, but you can avoid it by staying on your toes!

When pricing changes, it might make sense to adjust your shipping strategy if a different carrier can offer you a better deal. For example, UPS and FedEx both have a tendency to charge fees during peak season, while USPS doesn’t. Just saying.

Don’t Regret It—Prevent It!

We’re all human, and some shipping mistakes are bound to happen here and there. However, you can do your best to prevent them! Double-checking ALL the details of your shipment is the best way to avoid these common shipping mistakes. It may take a little extra time, but in the shipping business where mistakes cost you money, it’s completely worth it.

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