E-commerce Shipping Rates: Comparing 3 Scenarios | ShippingEasy

Comparing E-commerce Shipping Rates: 3 Scenarios

By Rob Zaleski
Feb 28, 2019
comparing shipping rates

Now that everyone has had the chance to experience the 2020 shipping rates, one thing that’s evident is that it’s more important than ever to compare e-commerce shipping services. Whether you’re trying to optimize using the right services from a single carrier, or comparing rates and delivery time frames in a multicarrier approach, you need to compare and contrast all options to save money. (Note: the below e-commerce shipping rates comparisons have been updated to reflect 2020’s rate increases and include estimated fees and surcharges for FedEx and UPS. USPS does not charge fees and surcharges.)

To help illuminate what some of these rate comparisons might look like (and what ShippingEasy’s app helps you do in seconds), we have laid out three very different e-commerce shipping rates scenarios below.

Example 1: Baseball (2 pack)

Comparing shipping rates baseball shipping

Weight with packaging: 11.5 oz.
Shipping destination: Zone 5

  • FedEx Ground: $14.72
  • UPS Ground: $14.86
  • USPS Priority Mail: $7.80
  • USPS First Class Package Service: $4.08 ✅

This is an example where USPS Priority Mail clearly wins out over FedEx and UPS. Within USPS services, however, there’s an even cheaper way to ship this package. First Class Package Service (FCPS) is without question the most cost-effective means of shipping anything under 1 lb. Depending on the distance the package is going, it’s entirely possible that FCPS can still hit generally the same delivery date, though there is no guarantee on this service.

First Class Package Service also went through a major change with 2019’s new rate implementation. We do a deep dive into what changed and what it means in this article.

Example 2: Pair of 4lb. Neoprene Dumbbells

comparing shipping rates neoprene dumbbells

Weight with packaging: 10 lbs.
Shipping destination: Zone 6

  • FedEx Ground: $20.43 ✅
  • UPS Ground: $20.58
  • USPS Priority Mail: $26.67

In this case, FedEx and UPS are actually cheaper than USPS Priority Mail. We’ve found this turns out to be the case for many weights above 6 lbs. in Zone 6. Something to consider, however, is looking into using a Priority Mail Flat Rate Medium box.

Priority Mail Flat Rate lets you follow an “if it fits, it ships” mentality up to 70 lbs. It’s likely the size would work for the small dumbells in this instance, and with Commercial Plus Pricing (like you get from shipping software providers like ShippingEasy) the shipping cost drops down to $13.20.

Particularly if you’re shipping products like this to a nearby location (Zones 1-5, for example), you’d also likely want to check into Regional Rate boxes, which could save you even more. They offer a flat shipping rate based on destination, regardless of weight up to 15 or 20 lbs. depending on the box you use. See comparisons below.

Comparison: Regional vs. Flat Rate (For packages up to 15 lbs.)

Regional Rate Box A
10" x 7" x 4 3/4"

Flat Rate Medium
11" x 8 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Houston to Miami $9.01 $13.75
New York to Los Angeles $12.64 $13.75
Dallas to San Antonio $8.04 $13.75

As you can see in this particular example, Regional Rate actually beats a Flat Rate Medium box across the board. The savings over FedEx and UPS are also substantial.

Example 3: Large, non-folding backpack

comparing shipping rates backpack dimensional weight

Weight with packaging: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Shipping destination: Zone 5

  • FedEx Ground: $28.67
  • UPS Ground: $24.18
  • USPS Priority Mail: $9.54 ✅

There’s a catch with this example, however. Being that this bag can’t be collapsed to fit into a smaller box, the box required to ship a bag of this size will end up being larger than 1 cubic foot. That means it qualifies for what is called Dimensional Weight–pricing based on the volume (LxWxH) rather than the physical weight of the package. This accounts for how much space a package takes up on a truck.

UPS and FedEx use the same divisor of 139 (a number used to calculate the “weight” of the larger package) than USPS, which is 166. Read our full breakdown on Dimensional Weight here. With those calculations in mind for the three carriers, below you can see the effects of Dimensional Weight on this package:

  • FedEx Ground: $59.92
  • UPS Ground: $52.17
  • USPS Priority Mail: $24.18 ✅

Even with the Dimensional Weight calculations, USPS Priority Mail is by far the cheapest shipping method and likely gives you a better delivery date promise. You can see how much “weight” gets added to packaging, though. It will be paramount to ensure that you optimize your packaging and add no wasted space.

The name of the game for 2019 will be smart shipping. Optimize every step, every process, every decision, and you may be able to minimize the effects of this year’s rate changes on your bottom line. ShippingEasy’s team of shipping experts are always here for you, from initial onboarding process to ongoing support via phone, email, and in-app chat. Try us FREE for 30 days to access the best e-commerce shipping rates and streamlined processes to put hours back in your day.

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Note on e-commerce shipping rates noted here: all USPS rates are based on Commercial Plus Pricing, which can be obtained through shipping platforms like ShippingEasy. FedEx and UPS rates are based on standard, non-discounted rates that are available to all businesses, with added costs like Residential Surcharges and Fuel Surcharges factored in—these fees do not apply to USPS shipments.

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Rob Zaleski

Content Marketing Manager 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.