Should You Consolidate Packages?

four packages vs one bigger box

Have you noticed that when you order multiple items at the same time, they sometimes come in the same box and other times they may arrive in different boxes? If you’re a company whose business includes online sales, you’ve likely noticed this because you’re doing the packing and shipping. So how do you determine when to consolidate items in one box and when not to?

The answer is more complicated than simply seeing if all of the items fit into one box. You must understand the cost-effectiveness of shipping multiple items in one box versus shipping them separately. The price tag for multiple boxes may be bigger than you think.

To consolidate or not to consolidate?
What exactly is package consolidation? It simply means shipping multiple items for one order in the same box. For small products, package consolidation is the default option. For example, if you order three t-shirts from a company, you expect them to arrive in one package. However, if you sell bulky, fragile, or heavy products, shipping multiples together isn’t always the best choice.

Consolidate items?
The better choice for shipping is to consolidate items as often as possible. First, it creates a positive experience for the customer to receive their order in one box at one time. Especially, if the items are meant to go together. Plus, it allows customers to keep track of just one box, rather than stress over multiple packages, which could arrive at different times. Second, consolidating items is more cost-efficient for your business, assuming the items generally weigh and are shaped about the same. If the items are large, bulky or heavy, that’s another story.

When is it best to consider package consolidation?

  • When you sell certain items together regularly. For example, someone may order inline skates and a helmet, along with elbow and knee pads. You might sell the helmet separately, but almost everyone will order a helmet. You might offer all items together in your online store.
  • When small accessories can ship in a box with a bulky product. If you sell large, bulky items with accessories, you can likely ship the smaller items in the same box as the large, bulky item. For example, if you sell kitchen items, you may have an order for a cookware set of pots and pans, but the order may also include a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons. If you can fit the small items in the box that you’re shipping the cookware set in, they ship for free. Of course, when you add small items to a box containing an oversized item, you have to make sure all the items can ship securely.
  • When the consolidated shipping charge may be lower than the cost to ship separately. This depends on the weight and size of the items, as well as where it’s going such as to a home verses a business or if the address is in a remote area.

Ship items separately?
When is it best to ship items separately?

  • When consolidating items can result in dimensional weight charges. DIM weight calculates a “weight” based on the dimensions of the package. Oversized items are often subject to dimensional weight, or DIM weight, charges. If putting two items together in one box will cause the dimensional weight to be greater than the actual weight, you might want to ship them separately. In some cases, you might save on shipping with package consolidation, even with the DIM weight charges. This situation requires careful consideration. Your shipping carrier can help you decide which to choose.
  • When the combined package will weigh more than 50 or 70 pounds. The major carriers add overweight charges for packages that weigh more than 50 pounds, and there are additional surcharges for items weighing more than 70 pounds. You might also incur extra fulfillment charges if you ship overweight packages.
  • When the items you’re shipping are fragile and would get damaged if shipped with other items. You might not want to pack a glass cup in the same box as a much heavier item. On the other hand, if you put the cup in a sturdy box that fits it tightly, you might be able to add that box to a consolidated package.

Counting the Shipping Cost

There are many factors to consider when calculating shipping costs. The key is to analyze shipping costs for your items, both consolidated and shipped separately, to determine which options provide the lowest cost.

As you talk to your shipping partner, be ready to share details about the size and weight of the items you sell, which items are bulky or heavy, what cities/zip codes they ship to, how often they’re ordered, etc. Also, be ready to ask a lot of questions to be sure you understand the process and get the most cost-effective, efficient shipping plan for your business.

Your shipping carrier will let you know costs such as per-package base charges, fuel surcharges, shipping rates, DIM (dimensional) weight charges, and other surcharges that may apply. They’ll also suggest changes to make your packing more efficient such as using smaller boxes or trying different packing materials.

Express Courier can help run the numbers and work with you to create a cost-effective, economical way to ship your orders. Let us formulate a plan for you today. Get a FREE QUOTE!


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