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With customers expecting fast, affordable, and 2-day shipping, shipping costs continues to rise.
It’s important to offer affordable shipping, but in a way that doesn’t break the bank. One way is to take advantage of free shipping supplies from major carriers, such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
If you’re a small business, every dollar saved on shipping matters. For large enterprises, getting free supplies for large volumes of shipments will save you money in the long run.
Here’s more information on the carriers that offer free shipping supplies, plus more tips on how to keep shipping costs down.
Free shipping boxes and supplies with UPS
UPS is one of the major players in shipping in the US. With their large amount of resources and shipping capabilities, they make mass shipping easy for your business. They have plenty of locations throughout the US, so you can easily pick up shipping supplies or order online.
UPS offers the following supplies for free with a UPS account:
- Shipping labels and stickers
- Shipping forms and labels
- Boxes and packaging
- HAZMAT supplies
- Express envelopes
You can order these items for free through the UPS website. Items will arrive within a few business days.
If you need assistance on packaging guidelines, shipping requirements, or how to ship a special care item, UPS has a robust section dedicated to answering your packing questions. You can even get customized shipping advice directly from UPS.
Once you’ve secured your free shipping supplies, you can calculate the time and cost it will take to ship your package through UPS. No matter if you’re shipping within country, internationally, or via flat rate shipping, UPS has a shipping solution for you.
Free shipping boxes and supplies with USPS
The United States Postal Service offers a selection of over 55 different types of free supplies for your business. You can either order online with free shipping or pick up supplies at your local post office.
When ordering free USPS supplies, it’s worth noting that boxes typically come in packs of 10 or 25. So when you select a quantity, you’re choosing how many packs you want to order.
USPS offers the following supplies for free:
- Priority Mail Express Envelopes
- Priority Mail Express Boxes
- Priority Flat Rate Envelopes
- Priority Flat Rate Boxes
- Registered Mail Envelopes
- USPS Tracking Labels
- Global Express Guaranteed Envelopes
- Various kits, such as the Priority Mail Flat Rate Box Variety Pack
In addition to numerous free resources, USPS has a wealth of other shipping information on its site. You can calculate shipping rates for flat rate envelopes and boxes, as well as custom sized parcels, schedule a USPS package pickup, and, track packages, more.
Free shipping boxes and supplies with FedEx
FedEx makes it easy to order free shipping supplies on its site.
FedEx offers complimentary FedEx Express® envelopes, paks, poly bags, boxes, and tubes.
You can pick up the supplies at any FedEx location or order them online. When ordered online, shipping supplies are often delivered in 2-5 business days.
If customers opt for FedEx’s standard brown cardboard boxes , it will cost anywhere from $1.75 USD to $15 USD. Packing, fragile packaging, and specialty boxes are available for a greater price.
In addition to various shipping supplies, you can also create shipping labels and schedule a pickup on the FedEx site. FedEx also has an international shipping guide, an international shipping rate calculator, and customs documents on their site.
Free shipping boxes and supplies with DHL
DHL is considered the leader of international shipping. While their services may not be as expansive as FedEx or UPS in the US, their international network means you can get your products sent to just about anywhere in the world at a competitive rate.
DHL offers the following supplies for free for account holders:
- Shipping labels
- Waybill Sleeves
- Padded pouches
- Tube mailers
What to know when using free carrier packaging
To get your hands on free supplies from major carriers, there are a few ground rules to consider.
Use specific mailing services
Free shipping supplies offered by carriers often means you’re limited to a specific mailing service, such as USPS’s Priority Mail service. If you pick up a bunch of free Priority Mail boxes, you’ll be limited to only using Priority Mail to ship your products.
Use only specific carriers
A lot of times, free boxes provided by a major carrier are designed for a specific mailing service. These boxes are often free to maximize each carrier’s internal process of reading and scanning labels. So if you pick up a free box from DHL, you may not be able to ship the box through UPS.
Don’t order more supplies than you need
Since you’re getting supplies for free, you only need to order the amount needed and refresh your supply every month. If you need supplies in a hurry, you can head over to the closest carrier retail location and get additional supplies.
Top packaging options for small businesses and low-volume shipments
If you are unable to get your hands on free shipping supplies from the above carriers, there are more creative ways to get free supplies for your ecommerce business.
Reuse old packages
Odds are you have some leftover Amazon boxes sitting in your recycling bin.
Instead of throwing out boxes from your online orders, hold onto them so you can repurpose them for your own shipments. All you need to do to reuse the boxes is remove the old shipping label and adhere your updated shipping label.
Ask local stores for old boxes
When you visit your local grocery store or retailer, you might notice they have a lot of boxes ready to be thrown out.
These companies often recycle or donate their old boxes, so you can reach out to them and ask to pick up boxes for free.
Flat rate shipping boxes & mailers
Taking advantage of flat rate shipping materials is a great way to secure free supplies, but also minimize shipping costs. Flat rate shipping can help keep shipping costs low because the price for shipping is not related to the package’s weight or size.
USPS and UPS have flat rate envelopes and flat rate boxes available in various sizes.
Utilize SIOC packaging
SIOC, or “ships in own container,” is a way to bypass shipping materials altogether. If you’re shipping something that already comes in a sturdy container, there’s no need to put it in another box. You can just apply a shipping label to the item and send it via mail.
This strategy has been popularized by Amazon, but can be done by smaller sellers.
Offer affordable shipping by partnering with ShipBob
There are many ways to obtain free shipping supplies through carriers like UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL – or even procure them from local stores or from your recycling bin. Using these free materials can help you cut down on shipping costs (and can even be eco-friendly shipping options). Additionally, taking the time to order free shipping supplies from major carriers can help reduce shipping costs and avoid passing off the cost to your customers.
However, partnering with a 3PL, like ShipBob, can alleviate the burden of finding your own shipping materials. Your fulfillment partner takes on picking, packing, and shipping so you can focus on your business, not packing supplies.
Get started with ShipBob
Interested in learning more about ShipBob’s fulfillment solution? Connect with our team to get started.
Free Shipping Supplies FAQs
How can I get free shipping supplies?
Different companies offer varying degrees of free shipping material. DHS, USPS, UPS, and FedEx all offer some level of free shipping supplies
Does Ebay provide free shipping supplies?
Ebay offers several options for shipping materials for its sellers. and Shipbob partners with Ebay to provide shipping, fulfilment, and ebay dropshipping options, as well as free packaging for all of our customers.
How can I save money on shipping?
Flat-rate boxes, taking advantage of available free supplies, not ordering more supplies than you need, and working with a 3PL company like ShipBob can all be helpful in reducing shipping costs.