- Is cheap shipping impossible when shipping heavy items?
- How much does it cost to ship large items?
- Is selling heavy items even worth the cost of shipping?
- Should I work with a freight broker or with other shipping companies like UPS or FedEx?
I get questions about cheap shipping ALL THE TIME.
I get it. This is new territory for many of you, and you don’t know where to turn when it comes to product and shipping protocol. Maybe you just thought of an AWESOME niche idea with the right price point… but you now realize that it’s a heavy item that can't just be shipped via USPS.
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It’s alright. You’re gonna be fine.
When I first started in eCommerce, I kind of just learned as I went. It wasn’t exactly the smartest thing to do, but I leapt at every opportunity.
How to Get Cheap Shipping on Heavy Items
If you keep reading this, you’ll see how I made some dreadful shipping mistakes that cost me tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s part of the reason I wrote this article…
I don’t want you to relive the dumb decisions I made as a drop shipping newbie. I don’t want you to be held back when searching for the cheapest shipping rates in your niche.
I know that shipping rates can be a bummer, but I promise that there’s a way to overcome it. I think this blog will stop you from singing the cheap shipping blues. Take notes, and let me know what you think in the comments!
When You Think of Heavy Items That Are Expensive…
Part of the magic behind my drop shipping method is the focus on shipping expensive items. Electronics like computers, TVs, and phones aren’t the best niches to sell in, so most folks focus on featuring BIG and HEAVY products.
What expensive products come to mind for you?
Probably desks, tables, chairs, tool boxes, book shelves…
There are thousands of heavy products that can be drop shipped. The question is…
Will shipping break the bank?
Why We All Obsess Over Cheap Shipping
Cheap shipping means better margins. It means more money made with your valiant marketing efforts, and less money spent on a necessary evil (aka shipping).
Today’s blog is a quick primer on the “shipping heavy items problem”. I’m going to talk to you a bit about my process to getting the best shipping rates when shipping heavy items.
What is Drop Shipping? Recap
Before we go on, I think it’s important to call attention to how dropshipping is misrepresented - especially in 2018.
When most people think about drop shipping, they think about cheap products from China. If folks look up “drop shipping” on Google, or if they watch drop shipping videos on YouTube, they come across people talking about selling inexpensive, low quality items.
Sure, selling cheap items is ONE way to go about drop shipping.
But it’s important to understand that drop shipping is simply a business model.
It’s a model where you (the retailer) sell products, and someone else (the supplier) fulfills the orders. Basically you sell, and someone else handles shipping.
Drop shipping does not mean Oberlo. It doesn't mean drop shipping from AliExpress, Amazon, or eBay. It doesn't mean sending over products from China. Drop shipping is just a way to fulfill orders.
As simple as it can get, here’s drop shipping in four steps:
- You list the supplier’s product on your store for customers to buy.
- The customer purchases something from your eCommerce store.
- You order that same exact item that the customer paid for from your supplier.
- Your drop shipping supplier ships this item directly to your customer. So your customer receives the item that they’ve ordered from you.
Different Scenarios for Shipping Heavy Items
So there are three situations we are going to look at for shipping heavy items:
- Supplier shipping on their account
- Supplier shipping on your account
- Using a freight broker
“Anton, what in the world is a freight broker? I don’t want to deal with anything like that! It sounds complicated.”
Well, hold on to your seatbelts kids. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Situation 1: The Ideal Situation When Shipping Heavy Items
If you work with decent suppliers, you probably won’t have to worry about getting cheap shipping deals.
More often than not, your supplier will ship on their account.
This means that it doesn't matter if the item is small, big, light, or heavy. It means that YOU don't have to worry about getting a cheap shipping rate because your supplier has it covered.
If your supplier ships on their own account, it’s because they ship more volume than you. They’ll have better shipping rates than you could ever hope to get.
This is when you know you’ve won. If this is the case, you don’t need to worry about cheap shipping, UPS rates, freight broker fees, or anything of that sort.
“Shipping on their account” means that the supplier will simply charge you a shipping fee for their services. You don’t need to provide a UPS, FedEx, or USPS account.
Situation 2: What If the Supplier DOES NOT Ship On Their Account?
Now, if your supplier doesn’t ship on their account, you have a couple of options available to you. This is true whether the items you’re shipping are small or large.
The supplier may contact you and say, “Hey, you can sell these products - we have them in our warehouse right now. But you need to ship them on your account.”
“Shipping on your account” means that the supplier will ship the item for you, but they will use your actual (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.) account for processing payment.
If the items are small, (under like 30 x 30 x 30 inches) it’s probably better to ship with something like UPS or FedEx. You’ll usually provide them with your UPS or FedEx account number, and they'll put that in the system. Again, they still ship it for you, but it will be billed to your specific UPS account (or whatever service you use).
More About Shipping Heavy Items
- Note that it’s entirely possible to have your customer pay for a portion or the full amount of the shipping cost.
- Or as a sales effort, you could even inform customers that you’re covering the entire shipping cost. Believe me, customers will love you for this. Imagine buying a 700 pound pool table with free shipping… that’s the best bargain around.
Situation 3: Cheap Shipping and Using Freight Brokers
So what if things don’t go perfectly, and your supplier isn’t willing to ship that massive stand up desk for you on their account?
You have stoves to ship! You have massive desks and boxes of wood flooring to ship out to the masses. The show must go on!
You don’t need to forgo selling in your dream niche. Here is the rule:
- If your supplier IS NOT shipping on your account, don't worry about this. I assure you, they know how to get the best shipping rates.
- However, if your supplier doesn’t ship on their account, DON’T give anyone your UPS or FedEx account for shipping heavy items. Only do this with smaller items.
Why not ship on your account when shipping heavy items?
Because it will cost you a fortune!
Absolutely DO NOT give anyone your FedEx account number, and say “ship through that” when shipping heavy products. Big and bulky items (bigger than 30 x 30 x 30 inches) won’t be shipped like smaller items - they’ll be considered “freight” by UPS or FedEx.
And freight = $$$
I love UPS and FedEx. They are smart and reliable shipping companies, but they are NOT built for affordable freight shipments.
If you want to ship freight (basically big items), UPS and FedEx are going to destroy you with charges. It's going to be so expensive that you can kiss piles of money goodbye.
If all your of money is going to go towards shipping, your marketing efforts, your niche selection, and your profits will be for nothing.
To Recap the Most Common Shipping Scenarios:
Your supplier handles all shipping on their account.
You provide the supplier with your UPS or FedEx account for shipping on smaller items.
You work with a Freight Broker for shipping heavy items.
How is it Possible to Get Cheap Shipping Rates with Heavy Items?
Obviously, people are selling these heavy items… Obviously, people are making money doing it…
But how? How do they do it? Or, the better question is, “how are YOU going to do it?”
Well, it's simple. You’ve got to go through a freight carrier!
Using Freight Carriers
If you've ever driven on the highway, you’ve probably seen a ton of huge trucks with seemingly random company names on the sides.
Well, a lot of those companies are freight carriers, aka, freight shippers.
Understand that there are more than just a few freight carriers.
You can probably name a few shipping companies off the top of your head. UPS, FedEx, DHL… that’s because there aren’t too many notable shipping companies in the United States.
But there are TONS of other companies that offer freight shipping services.
“So Which Freight Carrier do I Work With?”
There’s not a single, perfect answer to this question.
Because with freight carriers, there isn’t a fixed rate! The price varies depending on what’s being shipped, where you're shipping from, and where it's going to. The shipping rates for freight shipments are also negotiable. - which I’ll talk about in a bit.
Maybe right now you're thinking, “Anton this sounds like a ton of work.. I don't want to do all of this.”
Well... then don’t.
But I guarantee you that the people willing to learn and negotiate will be the ones to succeed.
Even though selling heavy items can seem scary, know that your competition feels the same way. Since folks are frightened of selling heavy items, your niche could be much less saturated… selling heavy stuff could actually help you in the long run!
If negotiating prices with freight brokers legitimately scares you, I recommend one of three things:
- Find a different niche.
- Give up learning drop shipping.
- Or take my course - which will provide you with tons of freight shipping information, holding your hand through the process. (Yes, I’m aware that this is a shameless product plug, but it’s worth it for those wanting to dig deeper and expedite their first sale).
Working with a Freight Broker Means Cheap Freight Shipping
Let's say you’re selling desks. You pick the niche, build the site, and you’re ready to figure out suppliers and shipping.
Next, I recommend you go through what's called a “freight broker”. Now, a freight broker is someone who will go around finding different quotes for you. They're going to give you different prices based on different companies.
FedEx & UPS
I mentioned that there are tons of freight carrier companies - I would have to assume over a hundred of them.
These freight carriers will have a system of entering your shipment details: they’ll get your cargo weight, size, address, supplier warehouse info, customer address, and all other relevant information.
Then, the freight carriers provide you with options, delivery times, and prices.
Going through a freight broker is going to get you the cheapest possible freight rate. This is Step 1.
If you stopped here, not doing anything else, that bit of research plus the quote from the freight broker will be worth it.
We’re talking three or four hundred dollars saved.
But let’s move ahead. Cheaper shipping is yet to come.
Negotiating Between Freight Brokers will Yield the Best Shipping Rates
Before, I mentioned that these prices are negotiable. This means that you can get quotes from multiple freight brokers. If you want cheap shipping on heavy products, you need to shop for the best quote. It’s the power of the free market!
Now, you want to work with multiple brokers, and you're going to want them to compete against each other for the best price.
They make commissions, so they will work to accommodate your needs as a retailer.
Let's say you (as the retailer) get an order for a desk, and you need it shipped to New York. Here’s what you do:
- You would contact multiple freight brokers - we do this via email.
- You’re going to give them the shipment information. They're all going to respond with their best prices.
- Now, gather your best broker deals. You can take the “best price” email to the other two and say “Hey, this is our best quote right now… can you beat it?” Again, I know that this probably sounds like a lot of work, but it could save you hundreds of dollars per shipment/order. This could be saving you a few hundred bucks per day. You save/make hundreds of dollars with a few emails. That’s a deal.
Once you have a system for emailing, this task can easily be outsourced to a business manager or virtual assistant. If you're moving any type of volume - even if you're shipping one thing a week - this could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. The more you grow, the more money you save.
Why I’m Sharing Cheap Freight Shipping Tips
I've been doing eCommerce since 2007.
When I first started, I didn't know the best way to approach freight brokers. I actually worked with one freight company for years. I didn’t know that approaching other brokers was the best way to get a good deal!
Then I found out that there wasn’t a fixed price in this industry. Other carriers could have beat the prices I was paying, and I had no idea.
I could have had a better shipping price. I could have saved tens of thousands of dollars if I would have known. I didn't know it was possible to work with other freight brokers, and I didn’t know that “shopping for quotes and deals” was even a thing!
If you're thinking of selling expensive items that are large and heavy - maybe you already are - you should start this freight broker process today. At least tuck this info away for the future. It's well worth it.
Working with multiple freight brokers keeps more money in your bank account and adds to your bottom line.
This is all I have to say about cheap freight shipping for now. If you want to go deeper and understand the Drop Ship Lifestyle process that over 8,500 people are using right now, check out the course.
And don’t be shy! Leave a comment. I’d love to respond or chat with you!
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My factory ships using fed ex and claims that it is the fastest easiest way to send one item at a time. As you mentioned, I thought fed ex was quite expensive so have considered shopping brokers. But when a customer is only ordering one item at a time, is it too time consuming to wait on a pickup of the item from someone other than fed ex who is used daily by the factory.
I feel like just using the factory fed ed account number and having them coordinate shipping but its $100 to ship my item from China and it’s stressing me out.
Thank you for this useful article but I still didn’t know what’s the best shipping method to dropship heavy items because you mentioned that Express is expensive. I have a product that’s 50 kg and dimensions = L145CM W92 H38 CM
What country are you doing business in?
I’ve already purchased the Blueprint, but I’m wondering: How often exactly does this negotiating need to be done? Is it only the first time you sell each item? And for each item in your store (depending on size/weight)? Or do you have to do it every time you sell anything large and/or heavy? Thanks!
Great question, Erica!
My advice is to negotiate on the first 5-10 shipments with different brokers.
That should be enough time to find one who will give you fair pricing moving forward.
Thanks much, Anton! I think I’ve almost pinned down my niche!
I actually like the idea of going with larger items that require you to negotiate with freight brokers. As Anton mentions, by building this into your store you’ve made your operation more complex. Thus, you’ve eliminated a lot of potential competition. The more complexity, the fewer competitors. So, don’t be afraid of it.
Nor should we be afraid of the leg work of negotiating with multiple freight brokers. After all, we have to negotiate with suppliers and other parties to list their products on our stores.
I think as more niches become more and more saturated, it is going to become more and more necessary to add complexity to one’s store. This is one way to do so. Why not learn how to do this now and separate your store from the herd?
As many of you already know I created Drop Ship Lifestyle after selling a network of eCommerce stores and then trying to find a community of other store owners to network with… What I found was a bunch of scammers who promised newbies they would get rich quick by following their push button systems!
This lead me create a new community along with online training that shares how to build a REAL online business.
I’d love to hear what you think… it’s 10 video training modules designed to help you drop ship profitably… all for free.
Be sure to click here to check it out and send me your feedback ?
If you go through the “What Is Drop Shipping?” mini-course and still have questions just contact me and I will help you out.