Whether you run an ecommerce business or want to send a parcel to a friend, you will naturally want to find the cheapest shipping option available.
If you live in the UK, you have at your disposal the services of the Royal Mail, FedEx, DHL, Yodel, UPS and several other shipping companies.
Which one of them offers the cheapest parcel delivery?
What is the Cheapest Way to Ship Items in 2023?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. What the cheapest way to ship a package is will depend on its size, destination, desired delivery time, and a bunch of other factors.
Price per delivery will differ on a case-by-case and courier-by-courier basis, so your best course of action is to understand the factors involved (which we are diving into in a moment), and then check out the pricing policies of the best courier services in the UK.
The Cheapest Way to Send a Large Package
The first thing to bear in mind when thinking about shipping costs is that different shipping companies will have different definitions of the word “large”. You will need to check with the couriers you are considering to figure out what constitutes a large package for them.
In general, to save money on shipping a large parcel, choose a box that is slightly bigger than the items you are sending. Also consider choosing a company that specialises in freight shipping, as their prices might be lower.
Contacting a forwarding company can also be an option, and checking if you can share a truck or a plane with some of their other clients.
The Cheapest Way to Ship a Heavy Package
If you want to send something heavy, you will again need to check with your courier(s) of choice what heavy means for them. You may find that some have defined the maximum weight they are able to ship, so you may need to do more research than with a smaller and lighter parcel.
A freight forwarding company is again an option, as is considering slower shipping. While it will take longer to deliver your parcel by sea than by air, it will also cost significantly less.
Another important consideration for shipping heavy items is the packaging. It must be able to support the items inside, but it also needs to be easy to handle. You don’t want shipping workers to accidentally damage the parcel because they weren’t able to grab firm hold of it.
FedEx and UPS tend to have the best rates for heavy international shipments, so you might want to start there.
The Cheapest Way to Ship Small Packages
The majority of parcels and packages that are shipped on a daily basis are what we would consider small. Most courier services offer various shipping options for these items, which tend to be either very fast, or more cost-effective.
As a general rule of thumb, the faster the shipment, the higher the cost, so if you are willing to extend the delivery time by a day or two, you can end up saving quite a lot.
If you often ship smaller items, you can work out a volume-based deal with a courier company. You can also work with a shipping platform that will handle the negotiations for you, but note that it can be cheaper to do it yourself.
The companies you should check out for shipping small packages in the UK include FedEx and DHL, but you can also work with the Royal Mail.
How to Find the Cheapest Way to Ship Items
Here are some general tips to help you find the cheapest way to ship your items and ensure they reach your customers (of friends and family) in one piece and on time:
Work With Multiple Courier Companies
Even if you have been working with the same company for years, approach other service providers to check their prices and current offers.
A lot of companies are ready to offer new clients significant discounts, and you may find that there is a new company out there that offers much better rates than your current one.
You should also look into using different companies for different package sizes, weights and destinations. One company will be much more affordable for sending small, local packages, while another will have better rates for heavy, overseas parcels.
Shop around at least once a year and ask for offers and estimates from as many couriers as you can find that operate in your area. Ask them for personalised proposals based on your specific needs, and go with the one that makes the most sense.
Keep Your Packages Compact
The factor that will influence the price and speed of a delivery the most is the size and weight of your parcel. Keeping both of them as low as possible is the best way to reduce shipping costs.
Sometimes the cheapest way to send a large parcel will be to send it in several smaller parcels. Always check the pricing for smaller vs. larger items, and see what the more affordable option is with a specific courier.
Carefully choose the packaging of your parcels as well. Ideally, you want them to be sustainable and eco-friendly, but their main task is to protect the items housed inside.
Consider how much protective padding (and of what kind) the item needs. If you are sending clothing, you probably don’t need to protect it like you would need to cushion a mug.
Use lightweight materials like bubble wrap or tissue, and always make sure the box is a bit bigger than the item. You can also use newspapers or other materials you would otherwise recycle.
Also try to reuse as much of your shipping materials as possible. It won’t actually cut down on the cost of shipping, but it will cut down your overall costs.
Choose a Longer Delivery Time
The cheapest way to send a parcel is to send it via the slowest possible route, as the higher the speed, the higher the cost. This may not always be possible, but try to slow your packages down as much as you can, as often as you can.
This may mean sending them by sea rather than air, or setting up a weekly parcel collection time for all of your packages. Make sure the recipients are aware of the costs of speedy shipping, or the longer delivery times. Most of them won’t mind if they have to wait a bit longer, as long as they are made aware of it.
Send Bulk Packages
Sending several parcels at the same time will often be the cheapest option. DHL for example offers better rates when you send two or more parcels together, and other couriers will also have discounts in place for bulk shipments.
Even if they don’t say so on the website, it pays to get in touch and ask about bulk shipping rates.
Save Money On Parcel Delivery
You will need to do a bit of research to find the cheapest way to ship your particular items. As the pandemic has forever changed our online shopping habits, there are more and more shipping options available, so there is one out there that will fit your budget too.
If you also receive a lot of parcel deliveries, make sure to check out our parcel drop boxes and keep all of your packages secure and safe.