It's a new year, but for parcel shippers it's not a happy time. As they do every January, UPS, FedEx, and DHL increased their rates in lockstep last month. Standard rates for ground services rose by an average of 4.9 percent, excluding hefty fuel surcharges. Domestic and international air-express rates rose by an average of 6.9 percent, which all three carriers offset with a 2-percent reduction in their fuel surcharges. The operative word here is "average": many individual rates increased by a much higher percentage, and most surcharges increased as well.
Shippers can try to hold down parcel shipping costs through rate negotiations, of course, but there are other ways to attack rising prices, says Jeffrey Haushalter, an associate with Chicago Consulting, which specializes in supply chain management for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. The consulting firm has identified a number of tactics its customers can use to control parcel shipping costs. What follows are some examples of those techniques, most of which apply to shippers that send multiple pack- ages to a single consignee:
These tactics aren't for everyone, Haushalter acknowledges. Low-volume shippers, for example, might not find they're worth the effort. But for high-volume shippers, the payoff can be substantial: Haushalter reports that one of his clients used these strategies to cut $2 million from a $25 million parcel shipping spend.