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Clothing is a huge seller for e-commerce stores, so these small business owners need a cost-effective way to get those clothes to their sellers. There are so many shipping options available that it can be confusing to figure out which one is the best for your situation. Should you use flat-rate shipping, first-class service, ground shipping, expedited shipping, or some other method? Just like with other items, the size and weight of the package will affect how much it costs to ship clothes. So, what is the cheapest option? Keep reading as we give you the details on the cheapest way to ship clothes plus offer some packaging tips and ways to save money.
Cheapest Ways To Ship Clothes
Thankfully, clothes are not on the restricted or prohibited items list, so you should have no trouble shipping clothes with any of the major carriers. If you are shipping just a few clothes, then USPS will probably almost always be the cheapest way to ship a package. However, if you ship clothes in bulk, then UPS or FedEx might work out better. Below we will explore the options available with each carrier as well as discuss the prices.
The weight of the clothes that you need to ship will play a big role in how much it will cost you to ship through USPS. If you are shipping a single, lightweight item, then first-class mail service will probably be the cheapest option. If you can fit the item into an envelope and it weighs less than 13 ounces, then you can ship it for about $2. Even if you use a small box, the package will ship for about $4 if it weighs less than 13 ounces.
Once you exceed the 13-ounce limit, then you will need to use USPS Priority Mail or Parcel Select service. Parcel Select service is the cheapest of the two, but it does not provide for delivery as quickly. Priority Mail will have your item delivered in 1 to 3 days, and it provides full tracking information. Prices start around $7 for Priority Mail, so this is still a cost-effective shipping method.
UPS Ground is another common method that people use to send clothes. UPS Ground prices are usually a little more expensive for small packages, but their prices are often the best when it comes to large and heavy packages. For example, sending a one-pound package only a short distance will cost you at least $7. However, increasing the weight to 20 pounds only increases the price to $17. This shipping service also gets your item delivered promptly as most all packages are delivered within five business days. If you need a faster delivery time, then you could choose from UPS 3 Day Select or UPS Next Day Air. These are premium services that guarantee delivery by a certain time, and they are quite expensive. Most people will not choose these options for shipping clothes unless the items are needed in time for a specific event.
FedEx is another common shipping company used by businesses and individuals alike. FedEx Ground usually does not provide the cheapest shipping option, but they offer great service for online stores and business owners. Their prices are typically higher than the post office and UPS prices. Sending a one-pound package of clothes through FedEx will cost about $10, while the price jumps to around $24 for a 20-pound box. Like UPS, they also offer express overnight service, but the shipping costs on those services are pretty high.
Flat Rate Shipping Options
All three major carriers offer flat-rate options when it comes to shipping clothes. These flat-rate mailers can be great shipping solutions because they have almost no weight limit. If you can pack the item inside, then it will ship for the same price. This even includes long distances, like all the way across the country! Let’s examine the flat rate options offered by each carrier.
When it comes to USPS shipping, there is no flat-rate option for USPS First Class Mail. However, you do have the ability to send a flat-rate box or envelope using Priority Mail. There are several different sizes available, from a small box to a large box. A small flat-rate box would be great to stuff a couple of t-shirts inside. This is often the cheapest way to ship a shirt. You could even include packing materials like tissue paper and not worry about the additional weight. If you opt for the large box, you could ship bulky and heavy items. A small flat-rate box costs only $7.95 to ship, regardless of the weight.
UPS has recently added flat-rate shipping to their list of services as well. They offer small boxes all the way to extra-large boxes. These are simple cardboard boxes that you could fill with clothes or even other items. This is a great cost-effective way to ship a box of clothes using reliable ground service. An extra-small box from UPS costs $8.80, so the cost is a little higher than the postal service.
Finally, FedEx has joined other shipping carriers and added flat-rate boxes to their service list. They also offer a variety of size options. You could even opt for a poly-mailer or Tyvek envelope-type mailer. These flat-rate envelopes start at $8.80 and can easily hold a couple of clothing items like t-shirts. If you need a box, the price for a small box is $9.95. If you’re willing to pay $32.35, then you could get an extra-large flat-rate box and stuff it full of as many clothes as you can fit inside.
How To Pack Clothes For Shipping
Since the shipper is responsible for ensuring that their items are packed appropriately, you might be looking for some tips on how to properly pack clothes when you ship them. So, how do you ship clothes? Thankfully, clothes do not generally need much cushioning. Most clothes are not fragile, so if the package gets dropped, there will be no damage done to the clothing. However, you want to make sure that the clothes stay free of stains or other harm that could occur.
The best way to ship clothes is to pack them inside a plastic bag before placing them into the box. If using a bubble mailer, this is unnecessary, but it is still wise for extra protection. You can even buy special shipping bags for clothes if you ship clothing frequently. When you ship boxes of clothes, it is possible that the box could get damaged. Grease or dirt from the shipping facilities might make its way onto the clothes if they are not packed inside a bag in the box.
If you are shipping a delicate item, like a wedding dress, then you need to take some special care when packing it. You will want to choose a box size that allows plenty of room for the item and packaging materials. You do not want to squish the item inside the box, as that can damage delicate lace or decorative stitching on the clothing. Make sure that you include enough packaging material to cushion the item to help prevent damage during shipping. Lastly, you could consider marking the item as fragile with your carrier. While you might incur a fragile surcharge, it would be worth it to know that your item will be handled with care during the shipping process.
Properly Weighing Your Clothes For Shipping
Before you ship packages of clothes, you need to know how much they weigh. This is especially true if you are printing your own shipping labels, as discussed in the next section. So, how do you weigh clothes accurately? First, the weight that is needed by the carrier is the full weight of the package. This includes the clothing, box or envelope, and any packing materials that you included. So, go ahead and get everything packaged together and ready to send before attempting to get the weight of the package.
For heavy items, a digital bathroom scale is the best option. If your item weighs more than a couple of pounds, then this is the way to go. Simply place the entire package onto the scale and wait for the reading. If your scale displays a decimal point, then you should round up to the next highest pound. For instance, a package that weighs 9.2 pounds would be rounded up to 10 pounds.
For smaller items and envelopes, you should use a digital kitchen scale. This can give you a precise measurement — even down to the ounce! This might be critical if you need to decide between first-class shipping or Priority Mail. Again, you should round up to the next highest ounce or pound, whichever unit you are using for your measurement. You should place the whole package onto the scale and center it as much as possible. This will give you the most accurate reading. When you ship items, you do not want to put the wrong amount of postage there and have it returned to the sender!
Printing Your Own Shipping Labels
Printing your own labels can save you lots of time and money, especially if you ship a large volume of items. USPS, UPS, and FedEx all allow you to print your own labels directly from home. The best part is you can use your regular home printer and regular paper to print the labels if you’d like. If you prefer to make things easier, then you could make a small investment in a Dymo label printer. These machines will make labels just like you get from your carrier. They are adhesive, so you can peel and stick them directly onto your package without worrying about any tape.
If you are wondering how to print shipping labels, the process is easy! The only things you need to print your own labels are the shipping address, your return address, the size and weight of the package, and a printer. You can print labels directly from USPS.com, UPS.com, or FedEx.com. Consider signing up for an account with your carrier so that you can get volume discounts if you ship a lot of products. There is also shipping software that you can integrate directly with your e-commerce store to automate label printing for you. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to do business if you own an online shop that requires shipping clothes or any other items.
Shipping Large Volumes Of Clothes
Most clothes are not that heavy. A single t-shirt, for example, generally weighs less than a pound. So, shipping single items is generally the cheapest when you use USPS. If you generally ship just a few items in each order, then USPS is probably your best choice. You should sign up for a commercial account with USPS as this can save you a considerable amount of money on shipping costs. Not only will each label you print be cheaper, but you can also get discounted rates on flat-rate shipping boxes as well.
If you ship large volumes of clothes at once, then UPS should be the carrier you select. They can handle packages that weigh up to 150 pounds. Many online shops need a carrier for international shipping as many clothes often come from China or other countries. If you are looking for a carrier to handle your international packages, then DHL is worth a look. They specialize in international shipments, and they often have the best rates when importing or exporting goods.
The Bottom Line
Since clothes are usually lightweight, the cheapest way to ship them is usually the U.S. Postal Service. Their first-class package rates start around $4, and you can send items through Priority Mail for about $7. If you need to ship several items at once, then UPS is usually the carrier of choice. Once a package reaches the 5-pound mark, UPS often becomes cheaper than USPS. Just make sure that the clothes are packed appropriately and select the carrier that works for you based on your specific needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it cheaper to ship UPS or USPS?
For small packages, USPS is almost always cheaper. As the package weight increases, UPS begins to catch up with USPS pricing. Once the package weight exceeds about 5 pounds, you might find that UPS offers cheaper shipping options. You can easily check the rates for both carriers directly on their website to find out who has the cheaper service through the UPS Rate Finder or USPS Postage Rates page.
How much does it cost to ship clothes?
It depends on the carrier, package size, package weight, the distance the package must travel, and how quickly the package needs to be delivered. For packages under 13 ounces, you can use USPS to send them for about $4. It could take up to 8 days for the item to reach its destination. If you need to ship a wedding dress overnight, UPS or FedEx might charge you $150 or more to send a large box containing a fragile wedding dress.
Do I need to buy insurance on my package when shipping clothes?
It depends on the value of the clothes. Most USPS Priority Mail shipments automatically include at least $50 worth of insurance, and UPS and FedEx shipments have $100 worth of insurance. If the item is worth more than that, then you should talk to your carrier about purchasing additional insurance to cover it.