2021 Shipping Rates: What the Changes Mean for E-commerce Merchants

By Rob Zaleski
Nov 12, 2019
2020 shipping rates and what they mean to merchants

The shipping rates in this blog are the 2021 USPS, UPS, and FedEx shipping rates. For the current 2023 USPS rates, visit our USPS 2023 Shipping Rate Changes: Flat Rate, Priority, First Class, w/Tables blog!

The United States Postal Service released changes to shipping rates for 2021, which took effect on January 27, 2021. FedEx and UPS released theirs at the beginning of the year and end of 2020, respectively. If you’re completely unfamiliar with what is changing, you can see our breakdown of the 2021 shipping rates for USPS here.

Get the industry’s most in-depth breakdown of the 2020 shipping rate changes for all three major carriers. Download the free guide now!

In this article, we’re going to focus mainly on the USPS changes. We’ll dive into the 2021 shipping rates for some of the most popular USPS services and show what exactly the increases will look like to your bottom line.

Note: As of October 19, 2022, ShippingEasy now offers the lowest USPSⓇ shipping rates in the industry, and the rates reflected in this blog are prior to this change and may not be accurate. For more information on these new rates, check out our blog!

2021 Priority Mail shipping rates

We’ll start with what is probably the most popular and most used shipping service USPS offers. Priority Mail offers many features, including various flat rate options. The standard Priority Mail shipping cost is calculated by weight and destination, called Zone.

Priority Mail shipping rates are increasing by an average of 2.5 percent, fairly in line with the changes that occurred in 2020. While that’s good news, e-commerce merchants will still feel the increase a bit.

Let’s take a look at the difference you’d experience shipping a 4-pound package.

Priority Mail
Commercial Rates
Commercial Rates
Zones 1 & 2$7.94$8.10$0.16
Zone 3$8.45$8.58$0.13
Zone 4$9.07$9.21$0.14
Zone 5$10.33$10.43$0.10
Zone 6$14.16$14.80$0.64
Zone 7$16.06$16.78$0.72
Zone 8$18.14$18.96$0.82
Zone 9$28.50$35.63$7.13

If you ship 500 packages per month, that’s a minimum difference of $80 per month, cutting into your annual revenue by at least $960. A way to mitigate some of this effect is to consider Priority Mail Flat Rate and Regional Rate whenever possible.

In the same example, let’s say you’re sending a 4-pound package to Zone 5.

  • Priority Mail: $10.43 at the 2021 shipping rate
  • Regional Rate Box A: $9.01

A savings of nearly $1.50 is substantial and adds up quickly. Since it’s still Priority Mail, you’re not losing any of the benefits and you can order the boxes free from USPS to be delivered to your home or office! Check out the Regional Rate Box A and Box B 2021 shipping rates below.

USPS Regional Rate
Box A
2020 Rates2021 RatesPrice Increase
Zones 1& 2$7.68$7.83$0.15
Zone 3$7.92$8.04$0.12
Zone 4$8.21$8.34$0.13
Zone 5$8.92$9.01$0.09
Zone 6$10.42$10.89$0.47
Zone 7$11.13$11.63$0.50
Zone 8$12.10$12.64$0.54
Zone 9$18.69$23.37$4.68
USPS Regional Rate
Box B
2020 Rates2021 RatesPrice Increase
Zones 1& 2$8.07$8.23$0.16
Zone 3$8.51$8.64$0.13
Zone 4$9.42$9.56$0.14
Zone 5$11.53$12.36$0.83
Zone 6$16.72$17.50$0.78
Zone 7$19.21$20.10$0.89
Zone 8$21.89$22.90$1.01
Zone 9$34.38$42.98$8.60

Something else you could try is splitting orders into smaller packages and shipping them via First Class Package Service. It won’t always apply but is certainly worth looking into.

First Class Package Service (FCPS)

Last year’s changes were very straightforward—particularly in contrast to the overhaul in 2019, as this service used to be based solely on the weight and didn’t change based on destination. In 2021, there aren’t any major structural changes but those rates are still increasing.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a much more cost-effective way to ship items that weigh less than a pound. FCPS is still the best way to ship these lightweight packages, so merchants are just going to have to deal with the 2021 shipping rates as best they can.

Let’s look at the increases in the 2021 shipping rates for a 5 oz package.

First Class
Package Service
2020 Shipping Costs2021 Shipping CostsPrice Increase
Zones 1 & 2$4.60$4.80$0.20
Zone 3$4.65$4.85$0.20
Zone 4$4.70$4.90$0.20
Zone 5$4.75$4.95$0.20
Zone 6$4.80$5.00$0.20
Zone 7$4.90$5.10$0.20
Zone 8$5.00$5.20$0.20
Zone 9$5.00$5.20$0.20

Sure, it’s just 20 cents but that all adds up. Many sellers who use FCPS are operating on some thin margins when it comes to shipping, so those few cents can still be problematic.

What this means is that merchants who want to offer free shipping will either need to find ways to cut costs elsewhere, or possibly bake the shipping costs into their product pricing. It’s not ideal, but being upfront with your customers could possibly help soften the blow. When customers have an affinity for your brand, particularly the human element of it, they may be more understanding.

Multicarrier Approach Is the Way to Go

While First Class Package Service is tough to beat with other carriers, there could be instances where FedEx or UPS may come in at a better cost than a Priority Mail package, depending on weight and destination. This can be particularly true if you have negotiated rates. It’s always worth comparing across carriers.

2021 Shipping rates comparisons across carriers

This can be a pain if you have to hop from browser tab to browser tab every time you want to ship a package. That’s why a platform like ShippingEasy makes your life so much, well, easier! Compare rates across carriers in a single screen, set up automation to choose the most cost-effective shipping method so you don’t even have to think about it, and get the best available rates.

We’re here to help you take on the 2021 shipping rates with ease. Our award-winning Customer Support team can help answer questions and make sure you’re shipping in the smartest way possible. Try our platform free for 30 days to see how much easier shipping can be!

Get Started Now!

Download a Copy of Our Bricks to Clicks eBook

New call-to-action

The following two tabs change content below.

Rob Zaleski

Head of Brand at ShippingEasy
I'm a digital content and social media nerd with a passion for telling stories, helping connect people, and finding joy in the details.

Latest posts by Rob Zaleski (see all)