Shipping costs can significantly impact the bottom line of any business, especially those operating in the e-commerce sector.
Understanding how to reduce shipping costs can lead to substantial savings and competitive pricing for customers. This comprehensive guide explores various strategies to help you achieve just that.
Here’s a brief overview of what we will cover:
- Understanding various factors influencing shipping costs.
- Using solutions like Fulfyld to optimize packaging and warehouse operations.
- Strategies for negotiating with carriers and choosing the right shipping method.
- Role of technology and Fulfyld in automating shipping processes and reducing costs.
- Importance of employee training and continuous process improvement.
Ready to explore ways to reduce shipping costs? Let’s go!
Understanding Shipping Costs
Understanding shipping and delivery costs is fundamental to any business that transports physical goods.
These expenses significantly impact your bottom line, and knowing how to reduce shipping costs effectively can drastically enhance your profitability.
Factors Influencing Shipping Costs
There are several key factors that determine expenses for shipping and delivering products. These include:
- The weight and dimensions of the packages
- The distance and shipping zones involved
- Your shipping method and carrier selection, and;
- Additional fees and surcharges.
Weight and Dimensions of Packages
The weight and dimensions of your packages are primary contributors to shipping expenses.
The heavier or larger the package, the higher the shipping cost. Major carriers often use a measurement known as “dimensional weight,” a calculation involving both weight and size.
As a result, optimize your packaging process to minimize both the actual weight and the dimensional weight of your shipments.
Distance and Shipping Zones
Distance and shipping zones are another crucial factor in the calculation of shipping expenses.
Carriers usually segment their service areas into different zones, and the further the package needs to travel from its origin to its destination zone, the higher the shipping cost.
A strategic approach to positioning your inventory can reduce the travel distance of your packages, thereby lowering shipping and delivery costs.
Shipping Method and Carrier Selection
The shipping method and carrier you choose can have a profound effect on how much a small business pays for shipping. Different methods, like air freight, are faster but typically more expensive than ground or sea transport.
Meanwhile, shipping rates can vary among carriers, influenced by factors such as business volume, nature of goods, and contractual agreements.
Additional Fees and Surcharges
Lastly, shipping expenses often include a range of additional fees and surcharges, which could significantly inflate the overall cost.
These can encompass fuel surcharges, residential delivery fees, rural delivery fees, weekend delivery surcharges, and more. Businesses should stay informed about these potential charges.
Now that you understand which factors impact your shipping expenses, let’s explore 15 strategies on ways to reduce shipping and maxmize your revenue.
1. Optimize Your Packaging
To save money on shipping, the first stage is to optimize your packaging.
Right-sizing packages is one effective method on maintaining low shipping expenses and high profit margins.
Choose the smallest possible package to securely hold your product. This allows you to save on packaging material costs, and reduce the dimensional weight, which major carriers consider when calculating shipping rates.
Efficient Use of Packing Materials
An efficient use of packing materials is key to low expenses on shipping and delivery. Use lightweight, space-efficient materials like air pillows or bubble wrap to minimize package weight, a crucial factor in determining shipping rates.
Moreover, strategically packing multiple items together in one package can further reduce shipping fees by limiting the number of individual packages sent.
Utilizing Eco-Friendly Packaging Options
Utilizing eco-friendly packaging options is not just environmentally responsible; it’s also an excellent strategy to minimize shipping expenses. Lighter, biodegradable or recycled materials can decrease package weight, thereby reducing shipping rates.
Plus, eco-conscious packaging appeals to modern consumers, contributing to a positive brand image.
2. Streamline Warehouse Operations
Another strategic approach on how to reduce shipping cost is by streamlining your warehouse operations or working with warehousing experts, such as Fulfyld to manage your logistics.
Implementing Efficient Inventory Management
Keeping optimal inventory levels helps prevent costly expedited shipping fees triggered by stock shortages.
In addition, efficient inventory management enables better prediction of shipping needs, providing a stronger negotiating position with your shipping carrier for the cheapest shipping method.
Reducing Packaging and Processing Time
Efficiency in packaging and processing time is a crucial factor to consider. The more swiftly your team can package and process orders, the more orders you can fulfill, leading to improved productivit, and satisfied customers.
Optimizing Order Fulfillment and Picking Processes
Furthermore, efficient picking reduces errors, preventing costly return shipping fees. To leverage these strategies, it is much easier for most eCom businesses to rely on 3PL logistics partners like Fulfyld.
3. Negotiate with Carriers
Negotiations with your shipping carriers can significantly influence shipping rates and serve as a powerful method to minimizing shipping expenses.
Researching and Comparing Carrier Options
Before entering negotiations, research all the major carriers and how they can help you:
- Review the pricing structures, reliability, and service quality of various carriers.
- Don’t overlook regional carriers; they might offer different benefits and rates compared to national carriers.
- Evaluate the carrier’s reputation, customer reviews, and track record in delivering parcels safely and on time.
By understanding each carrier’s offerings, you’re better equipped to negotiate effectively and achieve discounted shipping rates.
Leveraging Shipping Volume for Better Rates
The volume of your shipments can play a substantial role in negotiations. Carriers often provide shipping discounts or free packaging for businesses that can guarantee a certain volume:
- Keep a record of your shipping history to establish your volume.
- During negotiations, emphasize your potential growth and commitment to shipping a certain volume.
- Be prepared to commit to a minimum volume to secure better rates.
Negotiating Contracts and Service Agreements
Negotiating contracts and service agreements involves more than just focusing on the base rates. Consider all aspects of the agreement:
- Negotiate beyond the base rates. Additional fees, surcharges, and discount structures should also be on the table.
- Maintain a professional relationship with your carrier’s representative. They can provide invaluable help in getting the best rates and services.
Choosing the Right Shipping Method
Choosing the appropriate shipping method is critical to maintain healthy shipping expenses. While this may be challenging to determine on your own, 3PL fulfillment companies, such as Fulfyld make it much easier to define the best method for your business.
Comparing Different Shipping Methods
The shipping method you choose can greatly impact the shipping cost on your shipping labels:
- Speed: Is express shipping necessary, or can a slower, more economical method be used?
- Cost: Is there a budget for shipping expenses that needs to be adhered to?
- Reliability: What is the track record of the chosen shipping method?
Balancing Cost and Speed Requirements
A significant challenge when trying to reduce shipping and delivery costs is balancing speed with cost. Here are a few tips:
- Use slower, cheaper shipping methods for non-urgent deliveries.
- For urgent shipments, use express options, but always compare rates.
- Consider using flat rate shipping when appropriate.
Utilizing Hybrid Shipping Solutions
Hybrid shipping solutions can help reduce costs without significantly impacting delivery times. These services leverage major carriers, such as Fulfyld for long-haul transportation, then switch to local postal services for final delivery.
4. Address Validation and Shipping Zones
Address validation and understanding shipping zones can help optimize your shipping strategy and reduce international shipping costs.
Importance of Accurate Address Validation
Accurate address validation can prevent costly mistakes and failed deliveries:
- Incorrect addresses can lead to undelivered packages and additional redelivery costs.
- Many carriers impose address correction fees, which can add up.
- Failed deliveries can harm customer satisfaction and tarnish your business’s reputation.
Invest in address validation tools or services to avoid such unnecessary costs.
Impact of Shipping Zones on Costs
Shipping zones play a significant role in determining shipping rates:
- Carriers use shipping areas to calculate shipping expenses. The further the zone, the higher the cost.
- Understand your primary shipping locations to strategize the placement of warehouses or select
5. Shipping Automation Software
One of the best ways to reduce shipping, optimize eCommerce shipping experience and increase your profit margins is through automation software.
Implementing Shipping Software Solutions
Shipping software solutions can help automate and optimize several aspects of your shipping process:
- These software tools can automatically compare rates across various shipping companies, enabling you to select the most cost-effective options.
- Software solutions can auto-generate each shipping label for your shipping packages, saving time and reducing the chance of human errors.
- Advanced analytics provided by these software solutions can offer insights into your average shipping cost and help identify areas for financial savings.
- These insights can also help you pin point opportunities for shipping discounts and free shipping.
Bonus Tip: Check out our guide on the top 9 eCommerce tools you need for your SMB.
Automating Shipping Processes
Automation is a key strategy for reducing shipping costs:
- Automating order fulfillment and shipping processes can cut down manual labor, reduce errors, and speed up the entire process.
- Automation can also ensure accuracy in calculating shipping expenses, taxes, and duties.
- Automated tracking of packages can improve customer satisfaction by ensuring every product gets to the correct shipping destination.
Integrating with eCommerce Platforms
Integration of your shipping software with your eCommerce platform can further streamline operations and improve accuracy:
- An integrated system can automatically sync order details, preventing data entry errors and speeding up order fulfillment.
- It can also update tracking information automatically, providing a better customer experience.
- An integrated system can streamline the management of returns and exchanges, making these processes more cost-effective and less time-consuming.
6. Freight Consolidation and Shipping Partnerships
Employing freight consolidation and developing partnerships with the right shipping companies and similar organizations can help you reduce costs. Let’s explore these next!
Consolidating Shipments for Cost Savings
Consolidating multiple shipments can lead to lower shipping costs:
- Consolidation allows you to take advantage of flat rate shipping or volume discounts from carriers.
- It reduces the number of shipments, minimizing paperwork and handling costs.
- Consolidation can also decrease the risk of damage or loss since there are fewer separate shipments.
Collaborating with Other Businesses for Shared Shipping
Shared shipping can lead to shared benefits:
- By pooling your shipping needs with other businesses, you can leverage increased volume for better rates from carriers.
- Some carriers may offer free packaging for shared shipping, leading to additional cost savings.
- Collaborating can increase your shipping network, providing more flexibility in shipping methods and carriers.
Utilizing Freight Brokers and Third-Party Logistics Providers
Freight brokers and third-party logistics providers can offer several advantages:
- These providers, such as Fulfyld, have established relationships with various carriers and can often negotiate better rates.
- They handle many aspects of the shipping process, freeing up your resources for other critical tasks.
- They have the expertise to navigate complex shipping logistics, which can save both time and money.
Ultimately, it’s vital for eCommerce businesses to develop partnerships with the right 3PL providers.
Fortunately, this is where Fulfyld comes in, and businesses can rely on one provider to handle every aspect of their shipping and cost reductions, while maintaining positive customer satification and timely delivery.
7. Optimizing International Shipping
Optimizing international shipping involves understanding customs and duties, using international shipping consolidators, and exploring fulfillment centers abroad.
Understanding Customs and Duties
Understanding customs regulations and duties is crucial to avoid unexpected costs and delays:
- Familiarize yourself with the customs regulations and duty rates of the countries you ship to.
- Accurately declare the contents of your shipments to prevent fines and penalties.
- Include customs duties in your shipping and delivery costs to provide a seamless experience for your international customers.
Utilizing International Shipping Consolidators
International shipping consolidators can help reduce international shipping costs:
- They combine shipments from multiple businesses to offer lower rates.
- Consolidators handle customs clearance, reducing the risk of delays.
- They can provide services like tracking and insurance, offering a more secure and transparent shipping process.
Exploring Fulfillment Centers Abroad
Using fulfillment centers abroad can help significantly reduce shipping expenses and delivery times:
- Storing products closer to your international customers allows you to save on long-haul shipping expenses.
- Local fulfillment can also reduce customs duties and taxes, making your products more affordable for customers.
- Customers can benefit from faster delivery times, which can improve customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.
8. Warehouse Location and Distribution Strategy
Your warehouse location and distribution strategy play a critical role in your ability to reduce shipping and delivery costs.
Evaluating Warehouse Location Impact on Shipping Costs
The geographical location of your warehouse directly affects your shipping costs:
- Locations closer to your main customer base result in shorter shipping distances and lower costs.
- Warehouses located near major shipping hubs can benefit from more efficient logistics and potentially lower rates.
- Small businesses must consider the warehouse location’s impact on both outbound and inbound freight to reduce their shipping costs.
Implementing Regional Distribution Centers
Regional distribution centers can help small businesses reduce shipping costs and improve customer satisfaction:
- They enable faster delivery times to customers in different regions.
- They can reduce shipping distances, leading to lower freight costs.
- They provide small businesses with an array of shipping options to choose from, ensuring efficient and cost-effective shipping.
Utilizing Drop-Shipping and Third-Party Fulfillment Services
Drop-shipping and third-party fulfillment services offer unique advantages that can help small businesses reduce shipping costs:
- Drop-shipping eliminates the need for businesses to store, pick, pack, and ship products, thus saving operational costs.
- Third-party fulfillment service, like Fulfyld handle storage and shipment of goods, enabling small businesses to focus on core operations.
- These services typically have multiple warehouses, allowing businesses to choose locations closest to their customers to reduce shipping costs.
9. Inventory Management and Demand Forecasting
Efficient inventory management and accurate demand forecasting are vital components of a cost-effective shipping service.
Implementing Accurate Inventory Tracking Systems
Accurate inventory tracking is a practical way to reduce your shipping costs:
- It ensures businesses have sufficient stock to fulfill orders, thus avoiding rush shipping charges.
- It prevents overstocking, saving on storage costs and reducing the risk of offloading excess inventory at a loss.
- Real-time inventory tracking can manage customer expectations about delivery times, reducing the need for costly expedited shipping.
Reducing Stockouts and Overstock Situations
Effective stock management helps small businesses reduce shipping costs:
- Regular stock audits help prevent stockouts, which can lead to expensive rush orders or lost sales.
- Efficient stock management prevents overstock situations, reducing holding costs and risk of obsolescence.
- A well-managed inventory ensures efficient use of warehouse space, reducing the need for additional storage facilities. Fortunately, services like Fulfyld can help you accomlish this.
Utilizing Demand Forecasting to Optimize Shipping Needs
Accurate demand forecasting can significantly optimize shipping needs and reduce shipping costs:
- By predicting product demand, small businesses can better manage inventory, reducing the need for emergency restocking and the associated expedited shipping costs.
- Demand forecasting allows for planned and consolidated shipments, which are often cheaper than multiple smaller deliveries.
- Seasonal forecasting enables businesses to prepare for peak times, avoiding last-minute, expensive shipping arrangements.
10. Return and Reverse Logistics
Implementing efficient return processes, reducing return shipping costs, and maximizing value from returned products can further reduce your shipping costs.
Implementing Efficient Return Processes
An efficient return process can help businesses manage shipping costs:
- Clear and straightforward return policies reduce the volume of customer inquiries, saving administrative time and resources.
- Providing prepaid return shipping labels encourages customers to use cost-effective return methods, keeping shipping costs low.
- Consolidating returns reduces the overall number of return shipments, leading to cost savings.
Reducing Return Shipping Costs
There are several strategies that can help small businesses reduce return shipping costs:
- Providing clear product descriptions and accurate images can reduce the number of returns due to customer dissatisfaction.
- For businesses with physical stores, encouraging in-store returns can eliminate return shipping costs.
- Offering customers a variety of shipping options for returns can allow them to choose a more cost-effective method.
Bonus Tip: Master product returns and read our detailed guide on the top 10 ways you can create an effective returns policy.
11. Sustainability and Green Shipping
Sustainability and green shipping practices are increasingly relevant in the current business landscape.
Here are a few tactics to employ to achieve sustainability and green shipping.
Incorporating Sustainable Packaging Materials
Choosing sustainable packaging materials can be both an environmentally friendly and cost-effective strategy:
- Lightweight materials reduce the overall weight of packages, potentially lowering shipping costs.
- Recyclable materials can be reused, reducing waste and packaging costs.
- Durable, high-quality materials can prevent product damage during transit, minimizing the costs of returns and replacements.
Optimizing Shipping Routes for Fuel Efficiency
Optimizing shipping routes for fuel efficiency is another way businesses can support sustainability and reduce costs:
- Efficient routing reduces fuel consumption, which in turn lowers shipping costs.
- Utilizing technology to optimize routes can ensure packages are delivered efficiently, reducing unnecessary travel.
- Streamlining delivery routes can also minimize the risk of late deliveries, reducing potential penalties and improving customer satisfaction.
Utilizing Carbon Offset Programs
Carbon offset programs can be a valuable part of a green shipping strategy:
- These programs involve investing in environmental projects to balance out your business’s carbon emissions.
- Although there may be upfront costs, these programs can lead to long-term savings through tax benefits and a stronger brand reputation.
- Participating in a carbon offset program can also appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, potentially increasing customer loyalty and sales.
12. Tracking and Visibility
Maintaining high levels of tracking and visibility is critical for optimizing shipping costs and improving customer service.
Importance of Real-Time Tracking for Cost Optimization
Real-time tracking can play a significant role in cost optimization:
- It enables businesses to quickly identify and address any delivery issues, potentially saving on costs associated with delayed or lost packages.
- Real-time visibility allows for better route planning, which can reduce fuel costs.
- By closely monitoring delivery times, businesses can evaluate carrier performance and negotiate better shipping rates.
Utilizing Tracking and Visibility Tools
There are many tools available that can enhance tracking and visibility:
- Shipping software can provide real-time tracking information, reducing the time and resources spent on manual tracking.
- Advanced systems can offer predictive tracking, alerting businesses to potential delays before they happen.
- Integrated tools can offer tracking information across multiple carriers, providing a holistic view of all shipments.
Implementing Proactive Communication with Customers
Proactive communication can improve customer service and save costs:
- By notifying customers of any delays in advance, businesses can minimize customer complaints and the associated administrative costs.
- Regular shipping updates can enhance the customer experience, potentially increasing repeat business.
- Automated communication systems can reduce the need for manual updates, saving on labor costs.
While real-time tracking and visibility systems and strategies can be tricky and expensive to configure, many eCommerce businesses simply outsource this to 3PL logistics partners, such as Fulfyld.
Taking this step makes it easier to manage and leverage real-time insights.
13. Insurance and Risk Management
Insurance and risk management are vital components of a cost-effective shipping strategy.
Understanding the Importance of Shipping Insurance
Shipping insurance can provide essential protection for businesses:
- It covers the cost of lost or damaged goods, protecting businesses from financial loss.
- It provides peace of mind to both the business and its customers, potentially enhancing the customer experience.
- Although it incurs an upfront cost, shipping insurance can save businesses from significant unexpected costs in the long run.
Evaluating Risk Factors and Mitigation Strategies
Businesses should carefully evaluate potential risk factors and develop mitigation strategies:
- By identifying common causes of loss or damage, businesses can implement preventative measures, such as improved packaging or better carrier selection.
- Regular risk assessments can help businesses stay ahead of potential issues, minimizing the impact of any losses.
14. Analyzing and Monitoring Shipping Costs
Effective cost reduction in shipping packages involves the regular analysis and monitoring of your shipping expenses. Let’s dive deeper into this!
Implementing Cost Tracking and Analysis Systems
The implementation of cost tracking and analysis systems offers several advantages:
- Detailed visibility into shipping expenses allows businesses to identify cost patterns and trends.
- Automated systems help reduce the time and effort spent on manual tracking and analysis.
- Analytical insights from shipping services can highlight inefficiencies in your shipping processes that, once addressed, can lead to significant cost reductions.
Identifying Cost-Saving Opportunities
With a proper cost tracking system in place, businesses can start pinpointing opportunities to reduce package weight and other cost-saving strategies:
- Regular reviews of carrier invoices can verify you’re not being overcharged and can uncover areas where discounted rates may be negotiated.
- Analyzing packaging materials and methods might reveal opportunities for lighter, more cost-effective alternatives.
- Examining shipping destinations and frequency might identify opportunities for consolidating shipments or altering delivery schedules to save costs, especially in international shipping.
Regularly Monitoring Shipping Expenses
Regular monitoring of shipping expenses is an integral part of effective cost management:
- This allows businesses to promptly spot any unexpected increases in costs and investigate the underlying issues.
- Regular monitoring also helps track the effectiveness of cost-saving measures implemented, providing valuable feedback for future strategies.
- It can also help create more accurate forecasts and budgets for their shipping costs, thus benefiting financial planning.
15. Employee Training and Process Improvement
Employee training and continuous process improvement are critical in your strategy to reduce costs associated with shipping services.
Training Employees on Shipping Best Practices
Investing in employee training can have a significant impact on cost reduction:
- Training programs can provide employees with the skills to pack and handle items more efficiently, reducing damage risk and associated costs.
- Training on best practices for using shipping software and tools can ensure these resources are utilized fully, enhancing efficiency and cost savings.
- Regular refresher courses can keep staff up-to-date with the latest practices and regulations, helping avoid costly errors or penalties in the dynamic landscape of international shipping.
Continuous Improvement of Shipping Processes
A commitment to continuous improvement can lead to substantial cost savings over time:
- Regularly reviewing and updating shipping processes can help eliminate inefficiencies and reduce costs.
- This may involve adopting new technologies, improving workflows, or redesigning delivery routes, based on the needs of online shoppers and the choice of shipping company.
- Implementing a system for feedback and suggestions from employees can yield valuable insights. Employees directly involved in shipping operations often have a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Incentivizing Cost-Saving Initiatives
Incentivizing cost-saving initiatives can motivate employees to actively participate in reducing shipping costs:
- This might involve recognition for employees who identify cost-saving opportunities or rewards for teams that achieve cost reduction goals.
- Building a culture that values efficiency and cost-effectiveness can encourage ongoing efforts to reduce shipping costs.
- Not only can this lead to direct cost savings, but it can also boost employee engagement and job satisfaction, contributing to a positive work environment.
Rely on Fulfyld to Minimize Shipping Costs and Boost Order Fulfillment Revenue
Elevate your business efficiency and profitability by choosing Fulfyld as your trusted partner for all your shipping needs. With our expertise, we ensure minimized shipping costs while maximizing your order fulfillment revenue. Leverage our services to give your business the competitive edge it deserves.
Here are the key takeaways on how to minimize shipping expenses, and ensure your eCommerce business benefits from affordable, reliable shipping.
- Understanding Shipping Costs: Knowing the factors that affect your shipping costs is crucial. These include package weight and dimensions, distance, shipping method, and additional fees.
- Optimizing Packaging and Warehouse Operations: Implement efficient inventory management and package right-sizing to cut costs. Eco-friendly packaging options can be cost-effective and also appeal to environmentally conscious customers.
- Negotiating with Carriers and Choosing the Right Shipping Method: Researching carriers, leveraging shipping volume, and negotiating contracts can result in better rates. Also, a comparison of different shipping methods such as USPS priority mail and others can help you choose the most cost-effective and reliable option for your ecommerce business.
- Importance of Accurate Address Validation: Incorrect addresses can lead to failed deliveries and return shipping costs. Accurate address validation can help carriers ship packages efficiently, reducing unnecessary expenses.
- The Role of Technology: Implementing shipping software solutions and automating shipping processes can lead to significant cost savings and efficiency improvements. Integration with e-commerce platforms ensures streamlined operations.
- Freight Consolidation and Partnerships: Consolidating shipments or sharing shipping with other businesses can reduce costs significantly. Utilizing freight brokers or third-party logistics providers can provide further savings.
- Offering Free Shipping: While offering free shipping can be a strong selling point for online shoppers, it needs to be carefully planned. Free shipping costs can be offset by increasing product prices slightly, applying it only to certain products, or setting a minimum purchase threshold.
- Optimizing International Shipping: Understand the implications of customs and duties, use international shipping consolidators, and explore fulfillment centers abroad to help manage international shipping costs.
- Sustainability and Green Shipping: Eco-friendly shipping practices can be cost-effective, enhance your brand image, and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
- Employee Training and Process Improvement: Well-trained employees can significantly reduce shipping costs by adhering to best practices and continuously improving shipping processes.
What factors influence shipping costs?
Shipping costs are influenced by several factors such as the weight and dimensions of the package, the distance it needs to travel, the shipping method and carrier used, as well as any additional fees and surcharges that may be applicable.
How can an e-commerce business reduce its shipping costs?
There are several strategies that an e-commerce business can use to reduce shipping costs.
These include optimizing packaging, implementing efficient inventory management, negotiating with carriers for better rates, using cost-effective shipping methods, validating addresses accurately, and using technology to automate shipping processes.
What role does technology play in reducing shipping costs?
Technology can greatly help in reducing shipping costs. Implementing shipping software solutions can automate various shipping processes, increasing efficiency and accuracy.
Integration with e-commerce platforms can streamline operations, and real-time tracking tools can optimize cost management.
How can employee training contribute to shipping cost reduction?
Well-trained employees can significantly contribute to reducing shipping costs. They can adhere to shipping best practices, efficiently use shipping software and tools, and participate in continuous process improvement. They can also help identify cost-saving opportunities.
Can offering free shipping be cost-effective for my business?
Offering free shipping can attract more customers, but it needs to be carefully planned to avoid eating into your profits.
You can offset free shipping costs by slightly increasing product prices, applying it only to certain products, or setting a minimum purchase threshold. It’s also helpful to regularly review and adjust your free shipping strategy based on shipping costs and customer response.