Money Saving Tips Businesses Can Use to Cut Shipping Costs

I was wondering whether or not to start shipping coffee beans from a really good coffee roaster that I know. I haven’t worked out the shipping costs yet, so when this guest post came through, I read it eagerly for advice.

If you’re setting up an online store, I’d suggest working your way through this article, too.

Weather it’s a person selling on eBay or a business that runs a complex supply chain, shipping costs are a cause for concern because it can account for a large percentage of a business’s operational costs. While it’s impossible to cut out this expense completely, there are things that business owners, both small and large, can do to save on shipping costs.

Find a Company That Works With Small Businesses

While there are lots of shipping solutions out there, not all of them cater to small business owners. David Kiger’s profile, who is the CEO of Worldwide Express, talks about the need for small companies to find advanced freight and shipping options that will help them reach their goals.

This becomes even more helpful when small companies start trying to ship overseas. Advanced freight and shipping services help protect small businesses by keeping them informed about international shipping and customs laws that they might not have otherwise known.

Avoid Guesswork of Shipping Costs

Another problem that small companies have, especially for those that are just starting out, is that they never know how much shipping they will be doing. They don’t know the size, weight or the shipping cost.

Not knowing this information turns out to be an added expense later. The result is that companies often overpay for shipping because they aren’t really sure what the price should be. Removing the guesswork from the equation can save a lot of money.

Use Shipping Tools When Provided

Some companies try to figure out what shipping will be by themselves. However, many shipping solution providers offer free online tools that they can use to help determine the cost. These providers offer the tools because they want to draw in more business by being as helpful and upfront as possible.

Most of the online tools will help companies calculate their shipping costs for both international and domestic shipments. Other tools allow them to track shipments, print forms or even standardize addresses.

Watch Those Hidden Fees

When shipping internationally, there are a number of fees that companies might not be aware of and that end up hurting their businesses. For example, export compliance and proof of delivery all come at an added cost. Additionally, taxes and customs duties alone can often amount to nearly 30 percent of the total shipping fee on international shipments.

It’s important to know which party is responsible for paying these fees because it can affect the bottom line of a business.
While all of these tips are good, the only way for any of these tips to be helpful is to do the research to determine what the appropriate costs will be for the business’s shipping operations. Understanding these costs will help companies like yours more effectively manage the pricing, the budget, and profit margins.

How did you manage to control your shipping costs, especially with items that were unexpected by you or the client?

Useful Resources

Screencast: How the Shipping Cost Calculation Works in  your WordPress eStore

YoutubePayPal Shipping Calculator

WosServer: Tweaking Your Blog for your Stick Part 2

After yesterday’s little experiment, I began playing with the WosServer and found some little tricks for bloggers, would-be marketers or developers.

If you already have a blog or site that you are working with that is live, you can create a full version on Wos. It’s a little fussy but you can do the following things…

For parts 1-5, see WosServer: A Useful Tool in your Armoury.

  • Step 6: Download a copy of the database from your website (via the PHPMYSQL interface or wizard).
  • Step 7: Get and install the WP PHP Admin plugin. Activate it as usual. Head over to the new tab.
  • Step 8: Activate the plugin. Then carry out an import operation to import your downloaded file into the WosServer MYSQL database.

phpadmin plugin used

Image shows: plugin activated and accessing my database.

  • Step 9: (optional) If you encounter a problem with the size of your file, you will need to go into the PHP files in Wos Server, and edit the php.ini file to increase the permitted size from 2M to something more reasonable if you have a BIG blog, like mine.
  • Step 10: Download the complete wp-content/ folder with ALL the pictures, too.
  • Step 11: Move the wp-content/ folder to its rightful location, images, plugins, themes, etc.
  • Step 12: You will also need to change the database name in wp-config.php to your imported database name.
  • Step 13: You will need to edit the ‘options table’ in your database from to twice or you won’t be able to access your blog. It will keep taking you to the live site. You will see the first of the two entries in the wp-options table in the first row named ‘siteurl’, the second entry is on page 4 of the list, entitled ‘home’. Change both of these to your new URL. It’s difficult to change them within WordPress like this, because you will end up on your live blog.

Oh, and when you login for the first, do remember to use your original blog password, not admin/password for the WosServer. Oh, and there’s no email reminder! So don’t forget! The good news is that the plugins/wordpress core updates all seem to work fine as they do in version 2.7. Good luck.


WordPress 2.7 – Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait To Upgrade WordPress Today!

With the recent and much anticipated release of WordPress 2.7, I was reluctant to upgrade some of my blogs because of past foibles, bugs and unexpected incompatibilities with plugins. So when I read that 2.7 was released, I was initially reluctant to upgrade ANY of my blogs. So I started with a couple of them, and updated, tested things out, and moved on. Ordinarily, I would have waited until 2.7.1 was released as a bug fix for some of the issues that area always present in a full release of WordPress.

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with WordPress 2.7, in the few days that I have used it, and I’m a little frustrated that some of the hosting companies I work with haven’t updated the software on CPanel yet. Of course, Dreamhost jumped in pretty early, and that’s why I was happy to try it out. I’d say that there are five basic reasons I like this version of WordPress more than any previous release.

1. A Simplified Dashboard: You can eliminate clutter!

The dashboard has long been a bone of contention for me, because of the tendency of WordPress to want to flaunt its gimmicks, updates and features to all and sundry. In this version, though, users get to turn off the feeds, through the screen options at the top right. Simply uncheck the things you don’t want. Voila!

wp admin area

Additional features that are helpful are the little downward arrow that occurs at the top of most boxes, in the top right corner of each box. Simply clicking on that arrow or area closes or opens the dialog box in an obvious fashion. You’ll see the downward pointing arrow next to tools (see highlighted area). It works simply in a toggle fashion. These toggle switches are all over the admin area. To find them, just hover over the task bar for each item on the right hand sided.

down arrow in wp admin

The dashboard area is divided into three areas: the sidebar on the left where each of the menu items can be opened and closed; the central column which includes the stats box, the writing box; and the right column that pretty much includes everything else. As you can see from mine, it’s easy enough to pick things up and move them around a lot. Clicking on the words “screen options” highlights an area where you can turn off things you don’t want to see.

The right sidebar includes several new designations which may be confusing to new users. First the ‘pages’ button has moved to just below ‘links’. It used to be located right next to ‘posts’. This confuses me now. I often hover between writing posts and pages, and now I have to look further afield to find the pages button. It seems illogical to place it after ‘links’.

The old ‘design’ menu has been renamed ‘appearance’ on 2.7 but functions in pretty much the same way as the its predecessor. The Tools menu, however, is a new one and features several items that were moved from the former ‘Manage’ menu, including import/export functions. The Upgrade items, though, hint at some of the new features of WordPress that make management much easier (more later).

2. Keeping Upgraded – it’s getting easier!

Plugins are getting easier to manage: You will soon no longer need to use FTP to upload stuff – plugins and core upgrades can all be done within WordPress itself. This leaves ‘themes’ as the only item that now needs FTP. I imagine that future versions of this will remedy this. Other software, such as Joomla or SMF, have long had this ability. Right now, you can upgrade a plugin in much the same way as uploading other items. Find the item ‘plugins’ on the left hand menu. Click it, and you will see it open slowly to reveal four options. To add a new plugin, click on the words ‘add new’, and you will be taken to a page where you can upload a zip file of the plugin which is uploaded and installed. After it’s done, you can activate it straight away. A nice touch. Just hit ‘install now’ to upload the plugin!

plugins management

It’s also much easier now to find new plugins. Take a look at the next screenshot: you will see what I mean! The tags below the upload button hint at the next page. These plugins are from’s own plugin area, and clicking on the tags reveals that they can all be downloaded and installed quickly and without any fuss.

install plugins

In fact, activating and inactivating plugins has also got easier as has removing unwanted plugins. Simply just click on the plugins area on the sidebar, usually under ‘plugins’ >>> ‘installed’ menu option. You’ll find it easy to manage plugins from there, including removing them completely!

But this plugin management hints at another feature (one that I have not needed to try yet)… upgrading WordPress can now be done entirely from WITHIN the admin panel. Take a look for yourself! Under Tools >>> Upgrade, you’ll see the following dialogue.

upgrade wordpress

Very tempting when you can choose to download and reinstall automatically. I have no idea how this works, yet. But it would be a neat variation IF you could upgrade from WITHIN the admin area. Perhaps this is just teasing us.

3. Commenting from WITHIN WordPress

Admins often had to comment in a very odd fashion before: read the comment in the comments area; find the post in the archive, read the post, and then comment in the comment box AFTER the end of the article. Now it’s much easier:

comments reply wordpress

Just hit ‘reply’ to answer the query and a simple but functional comment box will appear just below, enabling you to answer without messing around in the archives! Of course, this presumes that you remember what you wrote!

4. Quick Posting and Quick Editing

The commenting function also has another feature that hints at much more power: the quick edit button. Clicking on the Quick Edit enables you to edit the comment very quickly, without calling up the entire post or page where it is entered. But the ‘quick’ idea has been extended with in several ways: making a powerful trio of blogging tools.

QuickPress : on the admin page, when you login you’ll be taken to a dialog box that enables you to write a short post, with media and tags and publish it in a matter of minutes! While you don’t have a WYSIWYG editor, you can learn some simple codes to faciliate quick blogging (they’re all available in the Write Post area).

wp admin area

Quick Edit is also enabled in the post and page view, and allows you to quickly update a number of features (the usual suspects that a busy blogger will forget in the heat of the moment!): such as tags, categories, slug, date or more…

quick edit post

This combined with Press Links (shouldn’t it be called ‘Quick’ Links?) means that posting, editing, linking and commenting can all be carried out fairly rapidly.

5. You can now add media without creating post

This is another puzzle from the previous version that was finally finished! For years, I never thought about uploading media to WordPress. I simply created a post and added the stuff I wanted… until last month when I created a batch of videos and wanted to upload them all at once. I would have had to create a post and add each one one by tedious one! Now it seems, I can simply upload media as I need and when I’m ready I can create a post and find the media I already uploaded! It’s funny, but that’s something you don’t need, until you really need it! And now it’s here!

upload new media

Now it would be nice if I could upload a number of files at one go! Oh, wait! It does! Or at least I think it does! I’m practising uploading media now! Now I wonder how I can create a simple gallery from these files! …