Size Matters: How to Effectively Size Your Subscription Box to Optimize Shipping Costs

July 10, 2018

Subscription boxes provide customers with the opportunity to try many products in a niche
category. Delivered right to customers' homes, subscription boxes offer convenience and save
time and money. Who wants to hunt for that perfect item in a crowded shopping mall when
you can open your subscription box and find the best selections right there?


Customers also receive products worth more than the cost of the subscriptions. These cost
savings propel the industry forward. Everyone wants deals. Sales and promotions, after all,
drive retail and eCommerce. Subscription box companies leverage their buying power on
behalf of the consumer while trying to provide them with a unique and positive experience.




Birchbox, for example, has made it big in the personal care products industry by providing
small samples that entice subscribers to order bigger sizes of the samples they like. It now has
400,000 subscribers. Barkbox found a fit with the dog lover's niche. This New York based
firm has seen stellar growth, gaining an astounding 55,000 subscribers in its first year.
Subscription boxes have the power to take off like wildfire.


However, exponential subscription growth and exponential profits are separate issues. For your
subscription box company to succeed in the long term, strong cost control measures must
ensure that each sale adds to the bottom line. After all, if your costs are too high, increased
sales may look good on the top line but can lead to a lower total valuation of your company.
Even if you eek out a profit despite high costs, the lack of working capital can cripple new
business development efforts and put you at a competitive disadvantage.


If you haven't focused on cost reduction lately, it's time to consider the primary expense for
subscription box businesses, shipping expenses. Many factors contribute to this expense,
including shipping methods, the box's size, and the box weight. Below are several methods
that reduce shipping costs, including maximizing box size and weight and qualifying for
lower shipping rates. These strategies, when combined with partnering with a fulfillment
company, provide value added services and the leverage to obtain prime shipping rates.



Your company can't afford to ship air


Air may be free to breathe, but when it comes to shipping, it costs big money. Packages take
up space in shipping vehicles. The basic math for shippers is that the more space they fill, the
fewer packages they can fit in each vehicle, and, therefore, the more vehicles they need to run.
That means higher expenses for them, which they pass on to their customers.


Did you know that the average eCommerce box contains 50 percent air? Considering the
dimensional weight charges UPS and FEDEX implemented in 2015, a 50 percent figure
represents a gargantuan amount of wasted money. Box resizing saves an average of 20- to 40
percent on shipping costs. Imagine what you could do with a 50-percent savings on shipping


The dimensional weight pricing is painful for many shippers because it calculates empty box
space as if it is full. To determine pricing, shipping companies take the length, width, and
height of the package and divide it by a common factor, currently 139. A quick calculation
can show you how even a small reduction in the size of your packaging can save you big.


In the age of dimensional weight pricing, dead space kills. Remember, even lightweight filler
and dunnage counts against you. Popcorn filler may weigh the same as air, but you'll pay just
the same as if the box was full of product. Consider a professional package design company.
Many of these outfits employ designers with expertise in attractive shipping containers. They
not only design for outward attractiveness, they also design for space efficiency.



USPS Priority Mail with Cubic Pricing


When your package is heavy and small, USPS Priority Mail with cubic pricing provides a
great alternative. With this pricing structure, business customers pay only for the small
package size and shipping distance. Here are the basic qualifications:

  •     Packages must be less than 20 pounds

  •     Packages must be less than 0.5 cubic feet



To calculate cubic feet, use the formula below:

(Length x Width x Height) ÷ 1,728 = cubic volume in feet


To determine pricing, USPS divides cubic measurement into five tiers, as follows:



The post office then takes these factors and generates pricing based on the distance between
zones. The closer the origin and destination zones, the lower the cost.





Often, eCommerce companies ship boxes full of air because they are unable to coordinate
their box order with their demand or their equipment. They may want more efficient shipping,
but since they have already ordered a certain container, they cannot readily switch. Also, if
they are married to a particular packing process, it may not accommodate the shipping box
size that is most cost effective.


These problems are easily solved by partnering with a fulfillment house that has many
packing lines, allowing easy adaptation of container sizes. In addition, they provide expertise
in packing that saves the customer big money. Also, a fulfillment partner will be able to take
advantage of their shipping accounts. Because they ship such massive volume, they can
leverage the relationships they have built to obtain significant discounts.


The generation of cost savings for shipping means the difference between a highly profitable
subscription box business and one that makes little, or even loses money. The dimensions of
subscription boxes have become more important than box weight. A good fulfillment partner
can reduce your shipping costs through maximization of savings according your box
dimensions and their earned shipping discounts. Subscription box business profits depend
greatly on optimized shipping costs. Reducing your overall shipping costs can maximize your
profitability and optimize your working capital, allowing your subscription box to grow into a
money-making powerhouse.




Written by Fusion Fulfillment.

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