“Say it with flowers,” is the advice that marketing expert Elmer Wheeler gives to businesses in regards to product packaging. The idea being that your packaging has an impact on influencing customers and connects people to your product through showmanship. Basically, the way you package your product adds integrity to what you’re selling.

So, how attractive is your packaging? Could it be improved? When it comes to packaging there are two very important things to consider: cost and design. You want your package to stand out visually, but when you’re shipping hundreds of thousands of items per day, the cost of attractive packaging is significantly high. Still it’s important to stand out, so how does a business ship attractive packages in a cost-effective manner?

The following lists four ways you can significantly reduce shipping costs. Managing shipping costs is essential, which is why some businesses forgo attractive, custom made corrugated boxes for their products. Shipping is already so expensive, but you don’t have to sacrifice visually attractive packaging to save money. By reducing shipping costs, you can apply more funds to package design and have both an attractive package without a hefty price tag.

1. Invest in a Box Sizer System

Packaging automation isn’t something that’s outsourced. You don’t send your products to a company to be wrapped and shipped. Instead, packaging takes place in-house using an automated box sizer, which efficiently sizes the packaging, thus reducing costs. Tension Automation’s Intelligent Random Box Sizer System is designed for distribution centers where single, multiple, loose, or group products are packaged in cartons for shipping. It’s fully automated and is able to intelligently measure the empty volume of a filled carton and shrink and seal the package to reduce voids, which in turn saves a lot of money on shipping costs.

That money can then be applied to labeling or printing on the package to make it more attractive. Or, you can stamp the packages with your company’s logo. Alternatively, you can use colored boxes or other methods to enhance your brand awareness.

2. Negotiate Shipping Rates with Shipping Companies

The more you ship, the better position you’re in for negotiating rates. You’re spending more than the average shipper and this gives you leverage. Both UPS and FedEx offer incentives to businesses, and you can call around for quotes and offer these quotes to competitors. Keep negotiating until you get the absolute best rate, and don’t be afraid to cast a wide net. There are shippers beyond these two powerhouses who may be more willing to lower their price to secure your business.

3. Avoid Carrier Fees

Once you’ve selected a shipping provider, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with all of their fees. You don’t want to get caught up overpaying on a shipment you’d wrongly assumed would be affordable. Zone-based pricing does add a bit of transparency to shipping costs, but not all providers offer this (especially if you’re shipping huge quantities).

Make sure your carrier understands that you expect the cheapest mode of transportation, such as shipping by ground only. Compare pricing in regards to your shipper’s tariff schedule. Make sure that they understand you want to avoid expensive zones, and that you’re looking for the most cost-effective delivery method. You can also work with your customers; offer the cheapest method of shipping for free, but give them the option to pay for more expensive and faster shipping, such as air or overnight delivery.

4. Take Advantage of Shipping Refunds

Have you audited your shipping costs lately? If not, have a financial expert or human resources person have a look at your shipping company’s money-back guarantees. It’s important to audit every single shipment because somewhere between two and 10 percent of the time the major carriers don’t meet their guarantees, and that’s money in your pocket.

Once you’ve lowered your shipping costs, you can apply the savings to creating an attractive package. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune; in fact, something as simple as an attractive font or colorful wrapping can make a world of difference. The point is that your packaging can be something more recognizable than the standard brown bag or box.

By Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science. Professionally a professor in one of the top B-Schools of Asia and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a regular contributor of Business Fundas and a frequent author in research platforms. He is widely cited as a researcher. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.