June 29, 2022
A picture of an ecommerce business owner packing a small box to ship items.

No ecommerce store owner wants to spend extra money. You want to save money where you can while still providing a quality product.

An example of where you can save money is your shipping options for fulfilling orders. The goal is to find a cost-effective way to deliver goods, like clothes, without taking away from the consumer experience.

With that in mind, here are the cheapest ways to ship clothes. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is the Cheapest Way To Ship Clothes?

A picture of a team comparing the best rates of the cheapest shipping companies.

The cheapest way to ship clothes is through USPS. It has the lowest major carrier rates for small, lightweight items. Yet, the other two leading carriers give better offers in certain cases. UPS offers a better rate for large boxes and heavy packages, and FedEx specializes in delivery services for B2B shipments.

These three options have one thing in common: They offer flat-rate shipping to save you money. So you get a deal on orders with more than two items or bulkier formal clothing, such as a wedding dress.

Before packing, check if prices change with what you need to ship. The weight, delivery, and speed combination could make you go with a different carrier.

How USPS Stands Out

For small orders, USPS First Class Mail delivers packages weighing less than 13 ounces in 1–5 business days. A small box will do.

However, some of your most loyal customers may order more than 13 ounces of clothing. In that case, determining the cheapest way to ship clothes needs more thought.

You will want to move up to flat-rate shipping. That option lets you send off a whole outfit for one price. USPS Priority Mail generally delivers between 1–3 business days for packages up to 70 pounds. Businesses pay the same price to send domestic shipments within the weight limit.

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The best part of this way of shipping clothes is the pricing. USPS First Class Mail prices start at around $5. Then, USPS Priority Mail prices start at around $9.

But USPS Priority Mail isn’t just about saving money. It also fits consumer expectations. After all, in a 2022 study by X Delivery, 62% of shoppers said they expect their free shipping orders to arrive in three business days.

For UPS and FedEx, the small packages and envelopes start above $10 for deliveries that can take up to five business days. These packaging options can deliver casual apparel, such as T-shirts. So, they aren’t the cheapest way to ship clothes for small orders.

Best Way To Ship Clothes Internationally

Part of scaling your ecommerce store can be reaching international markets.

Outside of the usual factors, shipping restrictions and insurance become concerns when shipping internationally. After all, a first-class package on a long-distance delivery needs extra attention.

To ensure the delivery sails smoothly, you can team up with a carrier to handle a remote delivery. Just keep in mind that international shipping involves a network of moving parts, which means global events could raise prices.

A picture of an ecommerce store owner searching for the cheapest way to ship clothes internationally.

That said, which carrier is the best option? USPS is also the budget-savvy option for international shipping. But the low price can sometimes come at a cost, meaning you might want to consider other carriers to guarantee the package will arrive in good shape.

For instance, you have two options if you want to ship clothes lighter than four pounds internationally with USPS:

  • USPS First-Class International Mail is cheaper than others. However, with no estimated time of arrival (ETA), delivery could take weeks. Also, you purchase insurance separately.
  • USPS Priority Mail Express International is the best option to make up for speed. The delivery takes 3–5 business days and includes international flat-rate packaging.

If, on the other hand, your packages are heavier than four pounds, USPS Priority Mail International is typically the best rate.

Note that USPS is generally a fair option for larger packages, and it has a more reliable delivery time if you can spend more on shipping.

How To Package Clothes for Shipping

Finding the cheapest way to ship clothes for your business could mean making other decisions about your orders. Two big factors that can reduce shipping costs are weight and packaging.

Clothes weigh the same whether they are new or used. So, you can always count on their weight when making your inventory.

Sometimes, a small business can overdo the tissue paper and coupon cards. You can still include them, though. It’s how you place them with the clothes that matters.

If anything, flat-rate shipping gives you a reason to learn new ways to fold clothes. The more cleverly you fold, the more space you have left in the package. That is a great way to cut shipping costs, especially for larger orders.

Packing Casual Apparel

Lightweight, casual fabrics are not fragile or delicate items. You can fold them neatly to minimize wrinkles.

When packing individual shirts, consider the following:

  • Fold the shirt to fit your packaging. Roll the shirt to prevent wrinkles.
  • A reusable plastic bag should be enough protection for a single shirt.
  • Seal the plastic bag. Tape works well.
  • Place the plastic bag inside a poly mailer.
  • Put a shipping label on the outside of the poly mailer.

For a pair of jeans or other pants, you want to:

  • Fold the pants at least three times without wrinkling them.
  • Use a reusable plastic bag to protect the item during transit.
  • Seal and place the plastic bag in a poly mailer. Choose one large enough to fit the item and suitable for the item’s weight. For some pants, you may need a box instead.
  • Place the label.

Packing Formal Clothes

Formal apparel may need special handling and protection, such as packing materials or a specific shipping method.

You need to pack wedding dresses, formal gowns, and tuxedos with care to ensure they arrive in excellent condition.

Here’s how you can pack formal wear to ensure you’re shipping clothes in the best way possible:

  • Pick a big enough box to hold the item without damaging decorations or delicate fabrics. Avoid using such a big box that the item has a lot of space to move around and becomes damaged.
  • Place the item inside the box. If you fold it first, wrap it in tissue paper (not too much).
  • Protect the item with cushioning materials.

Consider Using Sustainable Packaging To Reduce Shipping Rates

It’s fair to look for the cheapest way to ship clothes. But you don’t need the most affordable option available to save money.

You can save money in advance by choosing other packaging materials. For instance, you could try sustainable packaging. It weighs less and is less bulky in most cases.

So, you can save money, help save the planet, and share eco-friendly practices with your audience — like Gen Z shoppers.

A picture of a box being prepped for the post office.

Moreover, some businesses are beating the competition by adding values like sustainability to their brand. In a 2022 study by Stifle, 56% of consumers said they look for information about a brand’s sustainability practices when contemplating a purchase.

Sustainable packaging is much more than cardboard boxes, however. Companies create sustainable options from organic materials, such as mushrooms or algae. Then, they figure out how to make them sturdy.

Here are the most common types of sustainable packaging materials:

  • Cellulose.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Kraft paper.
  • Corrugated paper.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Glassine.
  • Green cell foam.
  • Cassava starch.

You can find these materials in different types of packages. Examples include mailers, styrofoam-like molds, and boxes. Some sustainable packaging companies include EcoPackables, EcoEnclose, and Mushroom Packaging.

Use Shipping Software for the Best Deals on Shipping Clothes

Many ecommerce businesses have a tech stack that keeps operations running smoothly. You can automate your business in several ways, including order fulfillment.

Shipping software can help you compare options and secure the cheapest way to ship clothes. Plus, it can integrate with ecommerce platforms.

Common features of shipping software include:

  • Automate the shipping process.
  • Watch real-time delivery tracking.
  • Watch inventory management and forecasts.
  • Manage multiple stores.
  • Access discounts to multiple shipping carriers.
A picture of an online store owner speaking on the phone about the best rates for shipping software.

Some shipping software even boasts up to 91% discounted rates for major carriers, such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. But that isn’t always the case.

You can explore these shipping software options for the cheapest ways to ship clothes:

  • ShipStation.
  • ShippingEasy.
  • Shippo.
  • ShipSaving.
  • ShipBob.
  • Easyship.

A 2022 study by McKinsey found that consumers are spending more online and in-store. Demand is up, so ecommerce stores must find the best way to ship clothes to make order fulfillment smooth.

With a shipping software subscription, you can save money and time and improve customer satisfaction.

Final Thoughts: The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes for Ecommerce Businesses

USPS is the cheapest option. Shipping costs depend on carrier rates, distance, weight, and speed. Materials and packing style can also impact what you pay.

Explore your options for the best way to ship clothes to find more than one method of reducing costs.

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It handles automatic updates, keeps your site fast, and ensures your customer data remains secure.

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