Are you looking for the cheapest ways to ship within Canada? Do you feel like you’re getting ripped off by major carriers and their shipping fees?
Typically, the cheapest way to ship within Canada is to use Canada Post. Since it’s a crown corporation (owned by the government), costs are typically lower than those offered by private carriers.
Since the pandemic, Canadians are shopping online more than ever. Whether you’re one of many online retailers trying to reduce their operating costs or you’re just trying to find the best value to ship a package to a friend or family member, you’re in the right place.
Below, I’ll share some of the best tips for reducing your shipping costs and compare some of the top carriers in the country.
Shipping Service Overview: Best Shipping Companies In Canada
Not sure which shipping company to go with? Here’s a quick overview of some of the best shipping services in Canada.
- Canada Post: National postal service offering mail delivery, parcel services, and e-commerce solutions for businesses and individuals.
- FedEx Canada: International courier providing time-sensitive, express shipping, and logistics services.
- UPS: Global shipping company offering domestic and international parcel delivery, freight, and supply chain management.
- DHL: International logistics company specializing in express parcel delivery, e-commerce, and global forwarding services.
- DTDC: Indian-based courier company providing international parcel delivery, e-commerce, and supply chain solutions in Canada.
- Purolator: Canadian courier offering domestic shipping, express parcel delivery, and logistics services.
- Canpar Express: Canadian parcel delivery service providing reliable shipping options for businesses and individuals.
If you want to quickly compare rates side-by-side, Easyship.com is a great platform. You can enter your basic package information into the shipping calculator to receive automated quotes from major and regional carriers alike. Shippo offers a similar service, which may also be worth looking into.
How To Reduce Your Shipping Price And Save Money
If you’re looking for cheap shipping options, there are a number of ways to reduce your costs. You may receive multiple quotes to ship the same package in the same timeframe. depending on:
- The size of the box you use
- Which carrier you’re working with
- The volume you’re shipping
- The shipping materials you use
- … and more
Below, I’ll share some of the best ways to save money when shipping packages in Canada.
1. Compare Shipping Costs
Remember, major shipping companies are in constant competition with each other. This keeps rates competitive and gives consumers plenty of options.
As you compare shipping rates, be sure to look into costs, such as:
- Flat-rate vs standards shipping rates
- Cost by package weight
- Costs for expedited shipping/air freight
- Additional fees (handling, signature delivery, etc.)
As a small business, you may be able to pass some of the shipping and handling fees onto the customer. However, keep in mind that higher shipping costs may reduce the likelihood of getting return business.
If you want to run a successful online business, it’s essential to find the best shipping rates and make it more affordable for customers to shop with you.
2. Consider A Courier Service For Local Deliveries
If you have a delivery in your local city, you may be able to save on shipping costs by hiring a local courier service instead of a standard shipping service.
A courier service may offer affordable rates for same-day or next-day delivery. They may also be able to pick up the package directly from your home or office, saving you a trip to the post office.
That being said, this probably isn’t the best option if you’re trying to ship to small remote towns or across provincial borders.
3. Choose A Slower Delivery Speed
All the major carriers charge extra for expedited shipping. In general, carriers charge based on two key metrics:
- Shipping size/weight
- Shipping speed
If your package isn’t time sensitive, opting for a slower delivery speed is one of the easiest ways to reduce your shipping price. Online businesses should be wary of this, though, as too slow of a delivery could result in your customer requesting a return.
4. Save On Packing Materials
Many carriers offer complimentary packaging materials, such as:
- Bubble wrap
- Cardboard boxes
- Foam “peanuts” (for fragile items)
- Shipping labels
This is especially true when shipping large items. All of these extra packing materials can add up over time. So, if you’re already paying high shipping costs, you may as well take full advantage of any freebies the carrier throws your way.
If your carrier doesn’t offer free packing materials, you should look for bulk deals. Wholesale stores like Costco or online shipping suppliers often offer discounts when you purchase large batches of boxes, bubble wrap, packaging tape, and other everyday shipping materials.
5. Use Smaller Boxes
Aside from the shipping speed you choose, the weight of your package has the greatest impact on your shipping costs. However, some carriers may also charge you more based on the dimensions of the box.
It can be tempting to use a larger box to ensure everything fits. However, larger boxes can incur higher shipping fees.
Larger boxes can also cost more. If they’re not filled to the top, then they can get damaged in transit, as the empty space at the top of the box is liable to get crushed under the weight of other boxes if they’re stacked.
Before you ship your package, I recommend stacking the items and taking a dimensional measurement using a measuring tape. This will help you choose a smaller box that better fits your shipment.
6. Ask For Volume Discounts
If you operate a business and typically ship multiple packages or large volumes of goods at a time, then it’s worth asking your carrier if they offer volume discounts. Major carriers may offer a shipping discount based on the total volume or weight of your package(s)
For example, let’s just say that a small eCommerce business ships an average of 55 packages per month, adding up to a combined weight of 1,100 pounds (an average of 20 pounds per package).
The business owner could ask the carrier for a volume discount since they have a record of shipping large volumes. In this case, the carrier may offer them a 5-10% discount on any shipments they make over 500 pounds.
The business would pay full price on up to 500 pounds of shipments and then receive a discounted rate on future shipments made that month.
Keep in mind that this is just an example, though. Carrier locations and offices may be independently operated, so you may be able to negotiate deals with the owner/operator of the facility.
Either way, it’s worth a shot. The worst that your carrier can do is say no, in which case you can simply look for a more affordable competitor.
7. Consider Regional Carriers
You’ve likely heard of major carriers like FedEx, UPS, Canada Post, and DHL. However, smaller regional carriers operating within certain provinces or regions may offer better rates for local shipping.
These regional carriers typically have lower overhead rates than major carriers, allowing them to pass on the savings to their customers. These typically aren’t the best option if you need to ship to another province or across the border, but they can help you save money on local deliveries.
8. Shipping Software For Small Businesses
If you operate a small business, you can save time and money by using shipping solutions offered by eCommerce platforms like Shopify or Magneto. For example, Shopify allows shop owners to print out shipping labels and estimate shipping costs with its built-in shipping calculator.
This saves time you’d otherwise have to spend getting your carrier to print shipping labels. Printed labels are also more accurate than handwritten labels, which ensures that your packages arrive to the correct destination.
9. Consolidate Shipments
If you’re shipping across the country or border, consolidating shipments is a great way to save money.
For example, let’s say that a small manufacturing business operates in B.C., but its primary customer base is in Ontario. If the manufacturer shipped each package individually, they’d pay high shipping costs.
However, if they consolidate several days’ worth of shipments into a single delivery order, the carrier may give them a bulk volume discount. Some companies adjust their prices and offer cheap shipping for customers that ship in bulk.
- Related Reading: The Best Package Forwarders In Canada
10. Analyze Shipping Data
If you run a business, it’s vital that you calculate shipping costs at the end of each month. Go through your shipping receipts and take note of:
- How much your business spent shipping items out
- How much of the cost was paid by your customers vs your business
- How shipping costs cut into your total revenue
- Whether or not customers were satisfied with the shipping time/price
All of this data will help you streamline your operation, reduce overall shipping costs, and help you find the quickest, most cost-effective option for your customers.
How Do I Calculate Shipping Costs?
Thankfully, most carriers offer shipping calculators that help you estimate your shipping price before you send a package. This is the best way to compare rates and find the best value. Here’s the most straightforward way to calculate your total shipping costs:
- Enter the shipping destination: The farther the distance, the higher the shipping cost will be. Costs also differ for domestic and international shipments.
- Measure your package dimensions: Shipping providers typically charge based on dimensional weight, which factors in the package’s size and weight. Measure your package’s length, width, and height. Round each measurement up to the nearest whole inch.
- Calculate dimensional weight: Multiply the package’s length, width, and height (in inches) and then divide the result by the dimensional factor set by the shipping provider. Round the number up to the nearest whole number.
- Determine actual package weight: Weigh the package on a scale, rounding up to the nearest whole pound.
- Compare actual weight and dimensional weight: Shipping providers usually charge based on the greater number between actual and dimensional weights. Use the larger of the two values to determine shipping costs.
- Select your shipping options: Carriers offer add-ons and services, such as overnight shipping, package tracking, package insurance, white-glove delivery, signature confirmation, and more. Most of these add-ons will increase your total shipping cost.
Once you’ve calculated all of this, you’ll have your total shipping cost.
Most carriers offer built-in shipping calculators on their websites that automatically calculate the shipping cost using their dimensional factor and standard shipping rates.
These aren’t always 100% correct, but they can give you a general idea of what to expect.
How Does Flat-Rate Shipping Work?
Most carriers charge based on a package’s dimensional rate. However, some carriers offer the option for flat-rate shipping. You’ll pay a flat rate for a certain size of the box and can put as much as you want within that box for a flat shipping rate.
This can be especially good for compact, high-value items.
Shipping Types And Definitions
Shipping rates vary significantly, depending on the type of shipping you’re paying for. If you want to save money, it helps to understand the difference between the various shipping models. this way, you can choose the best carrier and service for your needs.
The more informed you are, the easier it will be to spot deals or tell when a carrier over-charges you.
Here’s a quick breakdown of shipping definitions.
- Parcel Shipping: The most common type of shipping within Canada. This is when you ship one (or a few) small to medium-sized packages at a time using a courier or shipping service. If you’re an Amazon seller or own an eCommerce store, this is how most of your packages will be shipped.
- LTL Shipping (Less Than Truckload): Typically refers to shipments that weigh between 150 and 15,000 pounds. These loads could be large pieces of furniture or other bulky items that are large but don’t fill up an entire trailer.
- FTL Shipping (Full Truckload): This is used when the shipment is exceedingly heavy or large and requires a dedicated truckload to ship. Shipping costs can be very high for FTL loads.
- Intermodal Shipping: Shipping that involves multiple modes of shipping. An example would be a package that’s shipped via air and train before it’s placed on a delivery truck.
- Air Freight Shipping: Refers to packages that are shipped by plane. This is often used for overnight deliveries or high-value goods.
- International Shipping: If you’re shipping items to international customers or family living overseas, shipping costs can be higher due to tariffs, customs fees, and logistical concerns.
- Expedited Shipping: Faster than standard shipping. Typically involves air transportation or a more direct shipping method with fewer stops.
- White Glove Service Shipping: Involves in-person delivery (and often set-up). The delivery agents may carry a heavy piece of furniture into your home, so you don’t have to do the heavy lifting.
Conclusion – What’s The Cheapest Way To Ship In Canada?
If you just have a small parcel, then going with Canada Post or a regional carrier should be your cheapest option. If you operate an eCommerce business and are looking for the best rate, I’d use a shipping comparisons platform like Easyship or Shippo to compare real-time rates and find the best deal.
Looking for more fintech services that can help your small business grow and thrive? Keep on reading to see my list of the top fintech companies in Canada next!