A mailbox in a suburban neighbourhood overflowing with custom medals.Most post office boxes are too small for awards, meaning your order might be sent back to your supplier!

Picture this: You've just received your long-awaited awards. They're as impressive as you'd hoped and spark a buzz of excitement for your upcoming event. But before you can place them into the hands of their deserving recipients, you receive a shock — the shipping bill. It's higher than you expected, putting a sudden strain on you and your budget. You can't help but wonder: "How can I stop this from happening again in the future?" 

We at Badges And Medals have gathered a ton of answers to this very question, having shipped over a million awards around the world since opening our doors 50 years ago. 

We've distilled this knowledge into an article, where we cover how shipping plays into your award order and the five best ways to reduce it. That way you can place your next award order with confidence and keep your hard-earned funds where they belong: in your pocket.

How does shipping impact your awards?

A graphic showing the two types of shipping that awards can go through: from supplier to the manufacturer, and from the manufacturer to the customer.

It's common knowledge that awards go through a shipping phase - that's why you're here, after all! But what you might not know is most awards undergo two separate rounds of shipping, creating not one but two opportunities for you to save money. 

This is because most award manufacturers find it better to order their die-cast, or mould-pressed, awards from external suppliers. These suppliers specialise in die-cast awards and can offer expertise and production prices that aren't available in their region or maybe even their countries. Once the awards arrive with the manufacturer, they are checked over and sometimes customised before being shipped (again) to your doorstep. Many manufacturers also by the materials they use to make their awards from third parties.

Take a look at each shipping phase and how their costs affect your order:

  1. Supplier to manufacturer's office
    The first time some awards are shipped is when they are sent from external suppliers to whichever of the manufacturer's offices is closest to you. This fee is often determined before the awards leave the supplier's production centre. Manufacturers build this shipping cost into the cost of their awards. In other words, the lower this shipping cost, the cheaper your awards will be. 

  2. Manufacturer's office to your door
    The next shipping leg is between the manufacturer's office and your door. The cost of this is calculated at the time of shipping and added to your bill under 'freight fee'.

In both instances, the manufacturer gathers many freight quotes, compares them, and then selects the company that offers the most cut-rate delivery option. But their ability to reduce shipping costs only goes so far. As the customer, you have the ultimate power to reduce one or both rounds even further.

How to save on custom award shipping:

  1. Choose your delivery address carefully

It might surprise you to know that your choice of delivery address can have a big impact on your shipping expenses. Here's what you need to consider before making this simple decision:

  • Avoid rural addresses
    Couriers in certain countries slap manufacturers with a steep freight fee when they ask to deliver awards to a rural address, as they're often more challenging for drivers to access. To avoid this, provide your manufacturer with an address in a town or city.
  • Check the delivery address
    Before picking your delivery address, ensure it is both accessible for couriers and able to accommodate your order. Our team at Badges And Medals have had instances where a parcel couldn't fit in the chosen PO box, causing the awards to be sent back. Locations with restricted access, such as gated communities and secure facilities, have also led to similar situations. In both cases, we had to resend the awards to a new address, doubling our client's final freight fee.
  • Consider delivery times
    Select an address where you or your team can be present during the estimated shipment window to avoid missed deliveries or redeliveries, which can lead to extra charges. 
  1. Buy your awards in bulk

When you place a bulk order for awards, you get the best of both worlds. Not only do award manufacturers often offer attractive discounts on the awards themselves, but you also unlock large savings in delivery fees in both the first and second phases of shipping. Here's how it works:

  • Special shipping discounts
    Award manufacturers often establish strong partnerships with freight companies, who reward them with exclusive postage discounts when they place large orders. They extend these savings to you, making bulk award orders a cost-effective delivery choice.
  • Lowest shipping cost per item
    Buying in bulk leverages economies of scale. It means the more awards you buy in one go, the less manufacturers fork out to ship each award both to and from their offices. 

Here's how buying in bulk results in cheaper individual medal prices:

A graphic showing how bulk buying awards improves individual prices.

  1. Pick up the awards in person

While the convenience of having awards shipped to your doorstep is undeniable, it often comes with a hefty price tag. So why not cut it? The old-school approach of picking up your awards in person bypasses the need for third-party shipping, meaning you won't see a 'freight fee' on your bill. 

If you can't pick them up in person, consider enlisting the help of a friend or team member on the promise of a cup of coffee - this could still save you hundreds of dollars on shipping! Just reach out to your manufacturer's customer service team and see if you can collect from the nearest office, making the cost-effective choice simpler than ever.

  1. Order your awards in advance

If you're looking to trim down those shipping costs while ensuring the success of your event, the timing of your award order can be your secret weapon. Ordering awards in advance is not only a logistical convenience; it's also a smart financial move that can impact the cost of your awards by reducing the cost of the first shipping phase. Let's see what happens when you order ahead:

  • Ordering 6 weeks or before your due date
    It usually takes about six weeks between the moment you receive your order quote and when your order ships from your award manufacturer. If you need a quicker turnaround, your request is a "rush delivery", which has higher award and freight fees. This is because the manufacturer has to go with the fastest services they can find for both shipping phases, rather than the cheapest.

  • Ordering 7 weeks to 2 months before your due date
    During this period, you have time to explore our range of delivery options and find the one that works best for your budget (such as buying in bulk!). Meanwhile, the manufacturer has time to coordinate with their supplier and bundle your award order with others in your region, saving on shipping.

  • Ordering 2+ months before your due date
    Ordering well in advance of your event allows your manufacturer to ship your awards from their suppliers on a boat rather than a plane. Shipping by sea can be up to 16% cheaper than by air because boats burn less fuel and carry more cargo. It, in turn, leads to savings on your order. For instance, if you order 2,000 metal medals that are 70mm/2.75 inches wide in June instead of August, you save about US$0.60 per medal - keeping a whopping US$1160 in your pocket! 

A woman prepares to post a custom award to a customer.Ordering awards in advance can save both you and your supplier money.

  1. Ask for a flat freight fee

Award manufacturers understand the importance of delivering value to their customers. That's why some offer flat freight fees to put a lid on surprise shipping costs and ensure you keep a firm grip on your budget. 

To calculate the fee they look at the number of awards you've ordered, the weight of each award, plus the distance between their office and yours. They then offer up a single price for the shipment. 

A flat freight fee is a good idea particularly if you order awards in advance because, unlike standard shipping, it won't fluctuate with the market, which can spike due to factors such as the time of year.

Learn more ways to save on your medal order:

As you've journeyed through this article, you've likely discovered a surprising truth: shipping expenses don't need to catch you off guard. At Badges And Medals, we know this better than most. With over five decades of experience and over a million awards delivered across the globe, we've encountered and resolved countless challenges like the one you're facing. We recognise that shipping costs can push your budget to the breaking point, and we're committed to helping you address this issue. 

And we don't stop at shipping solutions. Our commitment to providing you with the best bang for your buck goes beyond that. That's why we also offer this guide on how to save money on medals without compromising on their significance or quality.

Read: 4 Ways To Save Money On Custom Medals