If Royal Mail’s 2013 price changes threw a spanner in the works for your business, then it may be time to look into revamping the way you send parcels. In our previous post Royal Mail’s 2013 Price Changes Made Easy, we promised a follow up article which would explore some simple solutions to counteract the associated cost increase.
After some careful thought and thorough research we have put together our top 3 tips to combat rising parcel costs. So, if you’re looking to get back on track with your 2013 business goals, here are the best options we feel are available to you.
1. It’s about Franking Time
If you’re a Royal Mail enthusiast and nothing instils nostalgic patriotism quite like those iconic red post boxes, then a franking machine is the best option for you.
Franking machines have been present since 1884, when Norwegian inventor Engle Frankmussler created a machine designed to address concerns surrounding the use of adhesive stamps. The post office faced an increased security threat as seasoned thieves would steal stamps from their envelopes! In those days the franking machine consisted of a hunk of metal, a manual crank and some printing dye. Although today the franking machine is a nifty digital device, the premise is the same – it prints stamps directly onto post at a discounted rate.
Franking machines are often associated with big businesses sending out reams of mail, but this is really no longer the case. There is a range of machines suited to businesses of any size, from basic low volume models costing as little as £500, to state of the art machines which are able to seal and frank up to 65 items per minute. They are easy to use, you can top them up with credit at any time and you are able to customise your stamp to include company logos.
Franking Machines can be bought outright, or as is often the case, leased out with a service contract included. Your monthly instalments will depend on your exact requirements, but there are some excellent offers available. At the end of the day the real question is: how much can these franking machines – big or small – save you? And this really depends on the size, weight and volume of the parcels you send.
Because we love tables so very much, we thought we would put together an easy point of reference outlining the various savings a franking machine can offer. Whether you send your parcel first or second class, recorded signed for or standard delivery, you will be able to pinpoint the exact savings available to you below.
Savings Available Using a Franking Machine
As you can see there are some significant savings to be had. The fact is, if you’re a small business sending out 10-15 medium parcels a week, a franking machine is a sound investment.
Take an example where you are posting just 10 medium parcels a week. If the parcels weigh 2kg each and you send them through first class standard delivery, you’ll be seeing a £56 saving per month. This translates to a £672 saving per year (provided you do not send anything else).
Although the potential savings can be great, it is important to factor in some additional costs which come along with owning a franking machine. Bear in mind you will need to buy ink cartridges and labels at some point, even if your introductory pack includes them. Despite these extra costs, if your parcels are less than 2kg, a franking machine is a great way to save money. However, if they are on the heavier side it may be time to look into a courier service.
2. Fight of the Couriers
For some reason we all assume couriers are way out of our price bracket – and perhaps this used to hold true. But with the rise of discount couriers, previously unattainable savings are now available to SMEs and consumers. These discount couriers bulk buy postage space from companies like DHL and UPS, sell it to you, thus passing on the concessions large businesses are able to enjoy.
Of course, if you’re sending a postcard to your Aunt Mary who lives in Thong (yes this is a real town in Kent), it’s probably going to cost you less going through good old Royal Mail. However, if you’re sending heavy, shapely objects it’s definitely worth looking into a courier. Remember, when your Royal Mail package exceeds 2kg, you’re looking at a whopping £15 per package for first class delivery!
If you would like some further guidance on where to find the best deal for various package weights, then have a look here.
As with everything in life, there are pros and cons. By using private couriers you can certainly experience decreased costs and speedy delivery. However, you may find the amount of insurance they offer is low, or you may find yourself driving for miles to a faraway depot due to a failed delivery. The point is, as with everything, make sure you do your research beforehand and go with a courier you have heard of.
3. Bigger is not Always Better
The final option is to investigate your packaging. This won’t apply to everyone, but if you have a parcel which has the potential to be classified as small, you could find yourself incurring savings – or at the very least seeing small increases on 2012 prices.
It is best to use your noggin in these instances; don’t diminish protection, but instead find practical ways to be more efficient. Obciously, if you have an item which is delicate this gives you less wiggle room, but if your product is fairly sturdy, you may be able to cut down on packaging.
In 2012 we had the luxury of being able to stuff as much newspaper and woodchips as we so wished into a box to protect our items. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, so we have to think smarter. Using bubble wrap is often more efficient than stuffing boxes with saw dust, paper or polystyrene balls. If you are able to get away without using a box, you’ll be the better for it. Of course, this being said, it is vital you consider the safety of your item first; however, as efficient and effective packaging wasn’t at the forefront of our minds in 2012, we can certainly make improvements in 2013.
To Infinity and Beyond
Whatever option suits you best, it’s time to quite literally think outside the box. With the number of online shoppers rising rapidly and as the landscape of postage evolves, your business needs to keep striving to reduce costs and increase competitiveness. Whether you use a franking machine, a private courier or just package smarter, it’s time your business takes a leap forward.
Written by Trilby Rajna, Search Marketing Assistant at Approved Index