There are many ways to reduce the costs when shipping in Europe. Having the right information can help you be aware of the most common shipping pitfalls and, more importantly, save money.
In order to explain to our readers how to avoid extra charges when shipping, we went for a nice coffee and talk with Rok Jarc, Logistics Manager at Eurosender. Rok gave us precious tips on how to cut the expenses when shipping across Europe. If you don’t know how to save money when shipping in Europe, check the article that we prepared for you.
Blog: Can you give us any advice on how shippers can start cutting the costs right away?
Rok Jarc: First of all, it is important to divide shipping into two different categories – standard shipping of packages/boxes and suitcases and the freight transport, including the shipping of pallets.
Let’s start with the first one: boxes! A box has to be easy to handle. It is not enough if it has the right dimensions, but if the box weighs 40 kg, it can be really difficult to handle it. An unspoken rule says that if the customers cannot handle the package themselves, they cannot expect that the driver will be able to do it. So, always keep this in mind.
When it comes to a suitcase, make sure it is a hard shield one, not a duffle bag. The suitcase has to be wrapped in stretch plastic foil, the type of stretch foil used for aliments and that can be found at the supermarkets. After wrapping it with the stretch foil, it is important to add many layers of tape. If it is not properly done, two situations may arise:
- The collection of the suitcase will not take place – the driver will reject the suitcase since it is not properly packed.
- The driver will not notice that the suitcase is not in accordance with the rules, he will collect it and the pickup process will run smoothly! But, when the suitcase will arrive at the logistics terminal, the problems will start appearing… Suitcases and packages are sorted in the local courier’s facility, this being the time when they are checked to see if they comply with the packaging requirements. In such cases, the courier company may decide to move forward with the delivery, but only after charging additional costs. The other case is that the suitcase will be returned to the sender, making you lose the money you’ve already paid for shipping.
If for some reason you don’t have a hard shield suitcase and need to ship a soft cotton bag, be sure to protect it properly.
Blog: How to ensure a good protection of a soft cotton bag then?
RJ: The proper way to protect a soft bag is to place it inside a cardboard box. There is no any other way to safely protect a cotton bag. If you cannot find a box, try to improvise. Take a couple of small boxes, put them together, close them with a lot of tape and finalize with stretch plastic foil. Make sure that everything is totally protected.
If the duffle bag is not protected and gets damaged during the transportation, the insurance company will not cover the damage and, of course, you will lose money.
Blog: And in the case of pallets? How can a person or a company avoid extra charges when shipping a pallet?
RJ: The golden rule of a freight shipping is that the pallet has to have the exact same dimensions and weight you inserted on the webpage when ordering the service. Let’s imagine this situation: you ordered a shipping for a pallet with a height of up to 1 meter and in reality, the pallet is 10 cm higher. “But can only 10 cm actually cause a problem?”, you might wonder… Well, yes, it can, because the total volume and volumetric weight of the pallet will increase because of those 10 cm. If it is just one small box on the top of the pallet that measures 10 cm more, the courier company actually counts the whole volume of the pallet including the empty space. So, in the end, you will pay for an empty space and this is not a good idea, right?
A really important thing to avoid extra charges for freight shipping is that your pallet has to be stackable. Stackable pallets are specially made to keep stability and to save space in the lorry. Many freight forwarders charge extra costs for non-stackable pallets because they leave unused space in the truck. It is important to always stack the pallet in clean and equal columns to ensure maximum stability. For detailed information about how to stack a pallet, you can always visit this page.
Blog: What could be the other reasons for extra costs when shipping?
RJ: Additional costs can be charged for problems that occur at the collection or delivery time. For example, if the driver of the courier company arrives at the address stated in the order and no one is there to hand or to receive the shipment, this may cause extra costs especially if it is a freight shipping.
With freight shipping, the logistics company will always contact the client to agree on the time of the pick-up. If the driver arrives there with a forklift to collect the shipment and there is no one to hand the goods to him, the logistics company will charge extra for any new collection attempt.
Another important detail is that, when placing the order, the address submitted has to be 100% clear, with all the necessary information. It happens sometimes that the street is narrow and the lorry cannot drive on it. Or maybe the pickup location is a new address to which the consignee has never received any package in the past. Or perhaps the collection location is a place with many buildings (a group of many different companies, for instance) and in the order, it is simply written “building D” – but no one knows where building D is because there is no sign.
Blog: And if the person who wants to send a package lives in a remote area? For example, a place with no easy access and far from a courier’s hub? What could be the solution to avoid extra costs?
RJ: An option for a person who lives in a remote location is maybe to leave the package to be collected somewhere else. If you believe your location is considered remote (meaning if you’ve never received any mail to that address before, for instance), arrange the pickup from a place which is easily accessible, such as a hotel reception, a school, a commercial building, even a bakery nearby. Any place where the logistics company will not have problems finding it.
Blog: Some readers ask us if it is cheaper to send multiple packages or one pallet? What do you think?
RJ: The cost calculation depends on the volume of the shipment. One example: you have ten huge packages with the maximum dimensions allowed for a standard shipping. The total cost for sending these parcels would be, let’s say, 200 EUR. However, if you wish to place those packages on a pallet, the calculation will then include the volume. And the price wouldn’t be less than the one you got before that was calculated by the quantity (not by volume) of items. In this case, sending a pallet wouldn’t be a good idea.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of small boxes and when using the standard shipping, they will be treated like “numerous individual packages”, the stackable pallet, with a lower volume, would be a perfect solution to minimize the costs of your shipment. Why is the stacked pallet such a good option? Because it is indeed a safer way to send your goods anywhere.
Blog: What would be the right solution for a small business that wants to save money on shipping costs?
RJ: It can become extremely hard for small and medium companies to get optimal contracts, competitive prices and a perfect solution directly from the courier companies. By having a contract with only one logistics provider, the company is limited to the services they offer. If tomorrow your company from Ireland, for instance, will start doing business in Spain and needs to ship to that country, this can lead to an extra cost if your contracted logistics partner offers the shipping service to only two countries. Shipping to a different country can lead to a staggering increase in costs, which will no longer be convenient for your small company. It can also happen that by no means, the logistics provider will be able to offer the service in Spain, in which case you will have to sign a contract with another freight forwarder just because of that “one-time” situation.
The takeaway from all the things that we have mentioned is to always stay focus on your personal or your company’s shipping needs and stick with the weight and dimensions that you submitted when placing an order. That is the best way to avoid surprises and, consequently, extra charge.
In order to avoid an extra charge when shipping, we prepared more tips that will help you keep the costs down when you plan your next delivery. Take a look:
Stick to the shipping details specified in your order
Always double check everything when placing the order. By doing that, you won’t need to change any details on your order later on and run the risk to be extra charged.
Get the extra costs for any special services beforehand
It is extremely important to gather information in advance about all extra costs (like the use of a forklift, for instance) that might occur during the process of sending a package or freight.
Use the payment methods that are the most suitable for you or your business
Some courier companies issue the invoice at the end of the month. For late payment of the invoice, the company will charge extra for each additional day. Others, on the other hand, charge for each shipment individually.
Eurosender offers the option to pay with user credits which gives an additional 10% off on every order.
Other companies offer discounts when people use a specific payment method (for instance a credit card), as a way to make that payment method more popular among their customers and encourage them to use it.
If the recipient doesn’t want to receive the package for some reason and the shipment is marked undeliverable, the shipper might be charged extra because this will require extra handling on the courier company’s side.
Re-use old packaging materials
Reducing your packaging cost will certainly help you reduce the total expense of your shipping. What about reusing the packing material (bubble wrap, packing peanuts, boxes etc.) you got from other shipments and that you already have it at home? By being a one-man-band company, this can significantly decrease your expenses. You can even ask the small market in your neighbourhood if they have some used boxes to give you. Why not?
Zone skipping is a consolidation service where you gather all the packages that have to be delivered to a distant region and send only one LTL freight shipment to the consolidator in that zone who will then ship the packages from their distribution centre to the final destination. But, of course, for a small business with a low volume of goods to be sent this might not be a good option.
Check for websites on which transporters bid for the shipping of your items
There are a few websites out there where transporters can bid for the costs of transportation. People write what they need to ship and others (even an individual who owns a truck) offers a price for the transportation. The customer then chooses the cheapest option. In this way, you can find a good bargain but certainly, you need to spend some time to play this game, without being100% sure about the risks.
Consider booking the services through a parcel or freight broker
If you use the service for shipping goods from three or four different logistics companies in Europe you will never be able to profit from discounted prices since the total volume of shipments will be diluted and distributed among them. This is why you should choose one courier company and concentrate your volume in only one place. In this way, you will be able to negotiate better rates and also, take advantage of their loyalty programs, like the one offered by Eurosender.
Are you ready to start saving money on your next delivery?
Last modified: March 23, 2018