The High Cost of Shipping Heavy & Bulky Products Explained

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By Published On: March 27, 20240 Comments

Steven Visic, Director of Smart Send explains why shipping costs for big and bulky items are skyrocketing and reveals exciting new solutions by Smart Send.

Many ecommerce merchants have been feeling the pinch of shipping margins in recent months and years and there are a few good reasons for this. 

I discuss many issues around influences and types of shipping costs in my book ‘Shipping Smarter – A Guide to eCommerce Shipping’, however, few people expected the size of some of the shipping price increases we’ve seen this past year particularly. 

This shock to the system has led me to write this article, highlighting the issue with higher shipping costs for big and bulky items before revealing exciting new solutions Smart Send has released for shipping heavy and bulky parcels.

If you’re an ecommerce merchant, you’ll no doubt have experienced some major increases in shipping costs of late. During the height of the recent pandemic, we saw major issues in the supply chain and associated costs. Most people expected things to return to normal, however, we now know that’s far from the truth. Apart from the cost of importing containers to Australia normalising, domestic shipping costs seem to be only increasing.

There are a few reasons for this: 

  • Inflation
  • Staffing issues with transport companies 
  • Fuel costs

Inflation has affected consumers’ buying habits with lower online sales volumes this past year, ultimately affecting the bottom line of transport companies. Transport carriers already run on extremely low profit margins, so the reduction of sales numbers causes them to struggle further as their fixed costs are hard to reduce.

What also affects online sales is an inability for sellers to provide competitive shipping rates for big and bulky deliveries, as customers turn to bricks & mortar stores or other ecommerce platforms/stores that can. 

Staffing issues for the transport providers has been caused by a lack of ‘qualified’ staff and drivers across Australia. With the boom of delivery services like Amazon Flex, Uber, TaskRabbit and so many more, some courier drivers are finding it better to be their own boss rather than work for transport companies. 

There are also geographic-specific issues to be dealt with. For example, in Western Australia, drivers or depot staff are opting to leave and work in the state’s mines where they can earn much more money. 

COVID is still lingering and causing issues with staffing across the board in the industry also.

The time and expense of finding the right staff is an operational drain for transport companies Australia-wide. 

Finally and possibly the most resonating factor for us all, fuel prices have skyrocketed.  When your business or service relies on the upkeep of entire vehicle fleets, fuel cost increases of 20-30% can prove catastrophic for even the healthiest of bottom lines. 

With all of this in mind, it becomes slightly more understandable why ecommerce merchants saw shipping increases of around 8-15% in 2023. Transport services that already run on extremely thin margins are just trying to stay afloat and naturally, some costs must be passed on.   

For sellers that send small parcels or satchels, there are a plethora of options to choose from with Australia Post controlling the majority of this market. 

However, for merchants sending heavy and bulky parcels to home addresses, it’s not so easy. As these sellers would well know, there is hardly a handful of affordable carriers to choose from that can provide a professional service.

If only there were a new player in the market who could offer exceptional service with reasonable prices for big and bulky parcels. Is that too much to ask for? 

Please continue reading for an exciting new announcement from Smart Send for SMB’s sending Heavy & Bulky Parcels at the end of this article.

While prices continue to rise for big and bulky shipping, some players are even ruling themselves out of the home delivery picture for this segment. One example came a few years ago as TNT/Fedex’s ‘Residential Pickup & Delivery’ surcharge was introduced.

For many carriers, merchants are seeing increases or introductions of: 

  • Home delivery surcharges 
  • Manual handling surcharges (see my YouTube channel video on these) 
  • Length surcharges 
  • Tail-lift truck surcharges
  • Two-man handling surcharges 
  • Depot handling surcharges

There are valid reasons for the introduction of these surcharges as collecting, sorting and delivering heavy and bulky products is much more labour-intensive and not as easily automated as small parcel shipments – the latter can be automated via conveyor belt sortation systems.

The other issue for merchants selling big and bulky products is accurately quoting shipping costs at checkout on your store. With small parcels, free or flat-rate postage costs are fairly easy to calculate as many courier options will offer flat rates across Australia. 

Frustratingly, this isn’t the case with big and bulky products. What is really required is a method where merchants selling big and bulky products can accurately quote competitive shipping options in real time at checkout for their customers.  This is important to ensure sellers don’t lose out under-quoting on shipping costs (particularly when shipping to regional or remote destinations).  

As merchants selling big and bulky parcels would know, you can lose a lot of money on one transaction if you have under-quoted on shipping; on the flip side, if you are charging too much for shipping you’re losing sales.

All of this has brought us to a crossroads: merchants selling heavy and bulky products are struggling with high shipping costs and consumers aren’t willing to pay them anymore. 

So where to from here?  At Smart Send, we believe we’ve found the answer for SMB’s.

Smart Send has just released our Road Economy services for Heavy & Bulky Parcels in Australia.  There are savings up to 60% on normal Road Express services in many cases depending on your product profile and despatch address.

If you’re using Shopify, Woocommerce for your webstore or eBay, we’ve also got free shipping apps & solutions you can use to streamline shipping for your business.  You will never lose on shipping again when shipping Heavy & Bulky parcels plus you will also be offering competitive shipping costs to your customers.  

Our new Road Economy services mean there are:

  • No Home Delivery surcharges 
  • No Manual Handling surcharges 
  • No Length surcharges 
  • No Weight surcharges 
  • No Tail-lift Truck surcharges

Your shipment will also be covered up to $1000 automatically at no extra charge*

If you’re an eBay seller shipping Big & Bulky products, check out our new Flat Rate Shipping offer for eBay.  No more losing money when shipping to regional or remote areas for heavy and large products.  We make it simple by providing a custom pricing list for your particular product that matches the NEW 2024 eBay Rate tables/zones.

As an added bonus, we’ve just released our ‘Bring Your Own’ MyPost Business integration.  Now you get the Best of Both World’s Shipping by streamlining your shipping through one platform/system – use your great AusPost shipping rates for small parcels and use Smart Send’s competitive shipping rates for: 

  • Packages over 105cm (up to 4 metres long)
  • Heavy & Bulky Packages (up to 1000kg deadweight)
  • Multi-Item products/shipments

For further details and to Sign Up for Free

* $1000 cover against loss/damage available on Road Economy service as part of our Transport Assurance Conditions


Words by: Steven Visic, Director of Smart Send.

About the Author: Power Retail

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