Ship Products Faster and Cheaper: 4 Services
BY Em Maier
These four companies are helping small businesses navigate the perils of shipping.
STOCKED UP: Shipping can be a huge expense for small companies. Here's one solution for getting your products to your customers without breaking the bank.
Shipping products can be a hassle of sorting through carriers, postal rates, and address labels. If only an Orbitz of shipping existed…
Well, not quite, but four services are making it easier for small businesses to simplify postage with rate comparisions and other features.
The Silicon Valley company helps businesses print labels and stamps to ship with USPS. They do have an API, which, with a little coding of your own, can be integrated in your own company. Tucked away in one of their packages is software that can compare rates with different carriers--but it requires an account.
Cost: A monthly fee that varies depending on the services chosen
Launched recently, it answers that main question: "What does it cost to pack and ship ___?" The friendly interface features shipping services, with the added bonus of both packing and shipping calculators. The site allows pick up and delivery from remote locations, making it a relief for companies with several locations. An API is in the near future, CEO Jeremy Bodenhamer says. He highlights the one-click shipping quote button, not unlike Amazon's one-click: if ShipHawk knows the item, the user will get instant prices and shipping options without inputing the specs.
Cost: The only price is that of the shipping itself (it commissions other businesses, like UPS to do the heavy lifting). They've also made plans for a promotion that encourages retailers to recommend friends, resulting in a "ship free" reward.
With roots in Austin, the API (available in Python, Ruby, and PHP) welcomes customers to a wonderland of shipping: labels, tracking, rate comparison, address verification, etc. It now uses five carriers to deliver packages.Two of its innovative features are the "Will it Fit" code and shipping time predictor--the former will tell you if all of your items can be packed into one box, while the latter predicts the delivery time--something generally not available for small businesses.
Cost: Monthly, based on the number of shipments and API calls
Like Postmaster, the Californian API compares rates and delivery times across USPS, FedEx, and UPS.The code, which comes in four languages, can also create labels, verify addresses, and buy postage.
Cost: A measly 5¢ per label, the founders mandated that the service have no setup or monthly fees