Small business owner packing products in shipping boxes.
Fulfilling and shipping customer orders successfully is not an easy task for many small business owners. Here, FedEx outlines benefits to opening a small business account. — Getty Images/Morsa Images

Entrepreneurs often find themselves handling many, if not all, of their business’s processes themselves—including fulfilling and shipping customer orders. Sound familiar? If so, that’s all the more reason to make sure you’re in a position to do it correctly and as efficiently as possible, setting yourself up for long-term success.

Fortunately, some companies, such as FedEx, have developed programs that support small business owners and provide services and guidance to help their businesses grow. Taylor Wassum, a FedEx sales support specialist, shared some insights about common small business shipping questions and considerations, and how business owners can leverage a FedEx small business account to their benefit. Here’s what we learned:

How you can better protect your product during shipping

A common concern small business owners have when it comes to shipping orders is getting the product to their customer undamaged. Choosing a right-sized box or package and using adequate cushioning are critical first steps.

According to Wassum, “The packaging shouldn’t be bulging because the item was stuffed in it, leaving barely any room to close it properly. This can cause the package’s seams to rip or burst.” It also doesn’t leave enough room for any necessary cushioning materials that can help protect your product. Cushioning, such as bubble packaging or packing peanuts, provides protective padding and keeps your item from shifting around the box while in transit. For fragile items, make sure you add 2–3 inches of cushioning on all sides of your product.

She also let us know that if you’ve got a tricky packaging situation, that’s OK. As a FedEx business account holder, you can reach out to the FedEx Packaging Lab. They offer complimentary package testing options.

Customs value? Declared value? What’s the difference?

Another concern or question shippers have is: “What’s the difference between a customs value and a declared value?”

Simply put, a customs value is the combined value of all the items being imported into a country. This amount helps determine how much import duty the recipient must pay. As the shipper, you must determine a customs value for all international shipments.

In contrast, declaring a value for a package (domestic or international) is optional. When you declare a value, you state the total amount it would cost to repair or replace the items in your shipment. This amount represents the maximum liability of FedEx in connection with the shipment of that package, including, but not limited to, any loss, damage, delay, or misdelivery relating to that shipment.

It’s important to understand that declared value is not shipping insurance. You have the option to purchase third-party insurance independently of FedEx. It’s also important to understand that declaring a value doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be reimbursed. To be reimbursed, the shipper must prove any actual damages, and FedEx investigates each case prior to making a reimbursement determination.

Customs values and declared values are just two of many shipping terms. Wassum noted, “There are many different surcharges and abbreviations, and it can be hard at first to know what it all means and if those things will impact you. This is why the FedEx Service Guide can be your best friend.” Another great resource is the FedEx Freight 100-U Rules Tariff. Both guides are updated regularly and can easily be accessed online.

There are many different surcharges and abbreviations, and it can be hard at first to know what it all means and if those things will impact you. This is why the FedEx Service Guide can be your best friend.

Taylor Wassum, Sales Support Specialist, FedEx

How your business can benefit from a FedEx small business account

Creating a free FedEx small business shipping account is a smart, easy way to receive shipping and printing discounts, get free FedEx Express® shipping supplies, access customer support and shipping tools, earn perks, and more.

You have access to shipping experts.

If you get stumped or have a question, you don’t have to waste precious time trying to figure it out on your own. A FedEx account representative is a great resource for helping you with everything from packaging and labeling questions to analyzing your shipping behavior. If your shipping volume doesn’t qualify you for a FedEx account representative, you can still get professional support via live chat or by scheduling a phone call.

If you’re an e-commerce business, you can also get one-on-one help from a digital sales specialist. They’ll go over ways to help you improve your website, shopping cart, and demand stimulation.

You may qualify for special pricing on certain services.

With FedEx, “You may qualify for discounts that are tailored to your exact shipping needs based on services used, what surcharges may impact you, and whether you ship inbound, outbound, or both,” Wassum said. FedEx also offers volume-based bundle discounts—meaning the more you ship, the more you’ll save overall.

You can join My FedEx Rewards.

If your account qualifies, you can sign up for the FedEx loyalty program, My FedEx Rewards. You’ll earn points when you ship and print. You can then redeem those points for different items, like brand-name gift cards.

You can capitalize on picture proof of delivery.

Wassum noted that FedEx now offers picture proof of delivery for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground residential deliveries in the U.S. and Canada. This has two big benefits: Your customers can be more confident about deliveries when they purchase from you, and you may receive fewer customer service calls about missing packages and reduce delivery disputes. It’s a win-win situation!

You can personalize a FedEx tracking dashboard and see up to 20,0000 active shipments at once.

With a FedEx customized tracking dashboard, you not only get visibility of multiple FedEx Express, FedEx Ground®, FedEx Home Delivery®, and FedEx Freight® shipments, you can also run reports and access documents and images, including a recipient’s signature. And you can alert customers to a shipment’s status, delivery, and changes through email notifications.

You can eliminate excess billing paperwork.

FedEx Billing Online (FBO) is an easy-to-use tool that helps you manage your online billing account with FedEx. With FBO, you can view, download, and pay invoices all in one place.

Final thoughts: FedEx is ready to support your small business shipping needs.

Wassum’s general advice to small-business owners is to not be afraid to ask questions about their shipping needs, no matter how simple or complex they may seem.

“More than likely, your FedEx account representative has come across the question before or knows someone else who has—so don't be afraid to ask.”

Ready to start taking advantage of a FedEx small business account?

It’s easy!

Open an account for free today to get discounts, schedule pickups, and access online billing, advanced tracking, reporting, and more.

Learn more about how FedEx supports small businesses.

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