When you’re getting started with a small business, there’s a lot to account for – everything from sourcing your products, handling shipping and fulfillment, setting up an online presence – the list goes on and on. Setting everything up on a limited budget can be difficult, especially in the beginning when you’re not pulling in much revenue. So many small business owners find themselves looking for ways to cut costs.
One great way to save on costs is by scoring free shipping boxes and supplies, which you can do from many places. Sourcing free shipping supplies may take more time, but when stretching every penny matters, that time isn't wasted.
So, where can you find these free shipping supplies?
Shipping Carriers That Offer Free Supplies
Quite a few shipping carriers offer free shipping supplies to their customers. The general catch with these supplies is that they come with the shipping labels of their respective companies and can only be used to mail orders through those specific courier services. Here are some of the top carriers.
UPS is among the most popular available shipping services in the United States. To get free supplies from UPS, you can log into their online UPS store and filter products to find the product type that you need. They will mail it to your address in a few business days.
Otherwise, you can pop by their local customer centers to pick up what you need. UPS offers labels and stickers, pouches, express envelopes, shipping forms and labels, and even hazmat supplies, among additional packaging material.
FedEx is another popular mailing service in the US. With FedEx, you can either find free supplies in the retail locations near you, or you can get free FedEx Express packaging online. The free packaging items include standard boxes, specialty boxes, mailers that allow top-loading for bulkier but flexible items like sweaters, tubes, and packing materials like tape and cushioning.
With FedEx Express, you can get flat rate boxes for free when you use the company’s shipping services. Other packaging options include cold shipping packaging and freight boxes for rigid, bulkier items, but those might incur additional charges.
Don't forget about the United States Postal Service (USPS), which offers free USPS shipping supplies. The free USPS supplies include Priority mail boxes, Priority mail express boxes, Global express guaranteed envelopes, USPS Tracking Labels, USPS dual-use priority mail boxes, and Priority mail flat rate boxes.
You can head to their website and use the content header to filter products into categories like First-class mail, Media mail, Priority mail, etc. to get to request the free shipping supplies that you are looking for.
DHL is another well-known service when it comes to international shipping. In the same vein as other carriers, you can get free shipping supplies from the DHL website as well.
Other Places to Find Free Boxes
If you don’t want the inconvenience of committing to one shipping label, you can look at some other places for free shipping supplies.
You can swing by your local boutiques to look for old boxes and mailers that you can reuse. Just remove the old shipping labels from these old boxes and affix your own shipping label to the box.
You can even visit grocery stores to find used packing supplies. If your company is dealing with products that require some cushioning, you can find free packing peanuts and bubble wrap, paper bags, and a lot of boxes at your local grocery store.
Furniture stores often carry shipping supplies for bulkier items that are being shipped from far away. It's worth checking your local furniture stores to see if you can find something useful.
Buy Nothing, Nextdoor, and Neighborhood Community Groups
You can find used boxes at local yard sales to find useful packing supplies or look into online community groups in your area to see if someone has the shipping supplies you are looking for. Chances are, there might be people who want to get rid of the old boxes sitting in their garage.
Recycle Old Boxes From Online Purchases
Reusing old and free shipping boxes is not only cost-effective for the whole shipping process, but it’s also eco-friendly. You can check the recycling bins at your local recycling facility or your apartment complex to find perfectly good boxes.
Note: Do NOT Use Liquor Stores
While these boxes are sturdy, you should generally avoid the liquor store when hunting for packing supplies because the post office does not allow anything to be shipped in obvious liquor boxes. Save them for moving instead!
The Bottom Line
If you are a new small business owner trying to get off the ground, taking the time to find free shipping supplies can help you redirect those resources toward other areas of your business. The key thing to remember when working with free shipping supplies is that you might not always find exactly what you are looking for and therefore, you might have to be a bit more creative, but the sayings could be worth it.
Tired of Pinching Every Penny?
Malomo helps ecommerce businesses create beautiful, branded shipment tracking experiences that drive additional revenue. Turn an essential operational arm of your business into your best marketing channel, so you have enough budget to stop scrounging for free supplies. Schedule a demo today.