small business tips

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 4: Taste

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 4: Taste

Ever walk out of a business with a good taste in your mouth, even if it wasn’t a restaurant? For food and drink-based businesses, the importance of taste is obvious. For retailers, not so much…

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 3: Smell

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 3: Smell

… the brick-and-mortar experience boils down to the five senses. Those are the only means your customers have to experience your business, so making sure each sense is catered to is vital…


Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 2: Touch

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 2: Touch

When selling products, there are certain events that raise the likelihood a customer will buy a product. A customer sees the inventory, that’s step one. They walk over to it and stop to look, step two. But once a customer actually touches the item, the likelihood of them making the purchase increases dramatically…

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 1: Sight

Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 1: Sight

The best experiences in life are sensory. A hot chocolate on a cold day, a barefoot walk on a sandy beach, the clean smell after it rains— all of them are playing to the five senses. So why shouldn’t the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience?…

3 Steps To A Better Corporate Culture

3 Steps To A Better Corporate Culture

On the surface, the most successful small businesses usually aren’t that different from the competition. They sell the same products at similar prices, but when you examine success, the one thing that usually sets them apart is their culture….

Let There Be Light: 5 Rules for Better Lighting

Let There Be Light: 5 Rules for Better Lighting

You’d be amazed at the difference lights can make. The right lighting can make a space feel inviting and warm. The wrong lighting can make it feel dingy and drab, or even downright foreboding!…

Find Your Sound: 3 Tips for Building a Loyal Customer Following

Find Your Sound: 3 Tips for Building a Loyal Customer Following

How does an Icelandic rock band (who once released an album sung entirely in gibberish) win multiple awards and go on to be one of the most consistent, successful bands in alternative music worldwide? It sounds improbable. In fact, it sounds downright strange. But that’s kind of their secret…

3 Free Tools to Streamline Your Back Office

3 Free Tools to Streamline Your Back Office

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says: “To say is to forget. To write is to remember…”

5 Ways to Win at Inventory Management

5 Ways to Win at Inventory Management

There’s a rule in business. Whoever manages to do the most work using the least amount of time using the least amount of resources is eventually going to win... 

A to B: 4 Keys to Transferring Inventory

A to B: 4 Keys to Transferring Inventory

Managing a multi-location business is no easy task. One of the hardest parts is transferring inventory between locations. Whether it’s across town or cross-country, knowing how to manage inventory transfers is key to keeping your numbers accurate...

3 Simple Strategies for Employee Accountability

3 Simple Strategies for Employee Accountability

It’s that time of year again! The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and the in-laws are hunting for bargains on airfare. The holidays are upon us and that means it’s retail’s time to shine! - or at least brace. Here are a few stocking-stuffers to help you maintain firm control even during the busiest times...

Why Managing Your Inventory Can Be Romantic

Why Managing Your Inventory Can Be Romantic

Ok, hear me out. I know counting shelves upon shelves of items isn’t super romantic. Even over here at Shopventory, as much as we love good inventory management, we don’t think it makes the world go round. But we do know that less time and money wrapped up in inventory means more time and money for other things ...

Training Day: 3 Key Insights to Employee Training

Training Day: 3 Key Insights to Employee Training

We’ve all been there, at the counter; watching helplessly as that poor cashier struggles and fumbles around with the system...

The Myths of Small Business Growth

The Myths of Small Business Growth

Here at Shopventory, we work with thousands of merchants all over the globe, so we figured it's about time to address the myths about small-business growth and offer some of our own insights into the best ways to grow. 

Blogger's Digest

The Internet has brought us all a treasure trove of content. From a good Netflix binge to the free courses offered by Stanford University, there's a lot online to consume, more than one could in a lifetime. Much of it is indeed cat videos and pointless arguments, but the small business owner can find reliable gold mines if they know where to look...

To Go Big: Go Small

To Go Big: Go Small

You may have noticed something different at your local grocery store recently. You've probably also seen it in the restaurants in your city or even the local liquor store. It's something downright radical: Local Alternatives...

Lessons Every Business Can Learn From Warby Parker

Warby Parker is one of the modern retail darlings of today. If you're not familiar, they make some of the coolest eyewear available. Rather than being limited to choosing your glasses at the optometrist, you can try on five different pairs at home (mailed right to your door with free shipping both ways). After you've modeled them for your friends and family, you send the try-on pairs back and order the  frames you liked best with your prescription lenses. They also take a cue from TOMS and host a one-to-one donation program to give glasses to people in need around the world. Their revolutionary model is simple, but powerful—and any business owner can learn from their success.

warby parker

1. Be real. Even with such a large and growing company, Warby Parker manages to be universally authentic with their customers and followers. Aside from a few shops and showrooms, the company essentially lives online, but they host pop-up events with some of the most exciting local businesses in each particular community. They get out and meet their customers, driving that extra layer of authenticity that companies need to succeed.

2. Go the extra mile. They invest in exceptional customer service, implementing policies that go above and beyond. For example, if your glasses are a little tight, they'll adjust them for free or pay your optometrist to do it for you. The result? An army of loyal lifetime customers who don't get that kind of service anywhere else.

3. Offer the absolute best value (and free shipping!). Warby Parker's pricing secret begins at the source. They cut out the middle man in their supply chain. They simply learned how to make the most stylish glasses they could at the cheapest price possible. In the Internet age, consumers are constantly searching for the best possible deal—so make sure that that best possible deal is with you. Even small businesses can find huge discounts if they know where to look, including free or discounted shipping.

4. Rock the boat. The word "disruptive" gets thrown out a lot when talking about companies like Warby Parker, and that's because they are game-changers. Chances are, you might be a game-changer too, but you'll never know if you don't take risks.

5. Do good. Today's consumers want to do more with their dollar. They don't just want to leave with a product—they also want to know where it's going and what it's supporting. For every pair of spectacles purchased, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need. To date, half a million pairs of glasses have been distributed around the world. On a smaller scale, use some of your profits to support local charity organizations or donate your skills to a non-profit.

How To Negotiate Shipping Discounts

As a retail business, chances are a big chunk of your cash flows right back to moving your goods in and out. If you are regularly shipping a high volume of products to customers and wholesale clients without taking advantage of carrier discounts, you could be spending up to 40% more than you need to. This savings could mean turning a larger profit or could free up the funds you need to offer customers a shipping discount for large orders, which is a powerful tactic to increase sales and revenue. A September 2013 Canadian survey by UPS and comScore conducted found that 3 out of 4 shoppers added items to an eCommerce cart in order to reach a free shipping threshold.

It only takes is a little bit of elbow grease and homework to negotiate shipping discounts and finagle lower freight rates.

negotiate shipping discounts

1. Create accounts with all of the major carriers. If you haven't  done this already, get to it! UPS,  FedEx and USPS (through Stamps.com) are the obvious starting points and accounts are easy to set up online. With your own dedicated account, you can arrange for carriers to pick up and drop off directly from you (no more frantic trips to the post office at  4:59 p.m.!).

2. Compare and contrast. When looking at the different options, make sure you answer all the questions that relate to your business specifically. Do they provide postage labels and rent printers? Will you have enough volume to qualify for their discounts? What is each carrier's rate on your most-shipped package sizes? For example, for heavy but small items, USPS can be significantly cheaper than UPS or FedEx. For medium-sized or large packages, though, UPS or FedEx can typically offer better rates. Researching these quirks and understanding your inventory's needs can also help you improve your shipping cost widget so that you don't lose money by accidentally undercharging customers for postage. 

3. Make the ask. Once you have established a relationship with the account manager at the carrier(s) you like best, negotiating a lower rate is as simple as asking—even if you aren't quite a high-volume company yet. UPS and FedEx even give a three-month grace period if you're projecting a larger volume of sales as your business grows. You can take advantage of that more affordable shipping now, but be as accurate as you can with your predictions or you will lose your low rate if your goals aren't met. If you need to boost your volume, you may also use your own account to manage inbound shipping costs (rather than reimbursing the manufacturer or wholesaler). Even if you don't walk away with a deep discount right away, you'll know what thresholds you will have to reach to qualify for more significant savings.

Bonus tip: If you aren't able to negotiate a rate yet due to a low volume, check to see if your business credit card has a partnership with any mail carriers in the meantime. You might discover a hidden 5%+ savings there!

Have you had success negotiating discounted shipping? Let us know in the comments!