Amazon continues to push customers’ expectations for package delivery. At a minimum, 2-3 days is the expectation for a vast majority of customers ordering items online, and that is often coupled with the presumption that shipping will be free. The cost of trying to fulfill these expectations can create a burden on your bottom line, so here we will focus on how you can save on 2-3 day shipping by optimizing your carrier and package selection.
Save on Shipping Packages over 1 lb.
A vast majority of packages are going to be greater than 1 lb. In most cases, the carrier you use will incorporate a combination of weight and distance traveled to calculate your shipping rates. We’ll cover another option that may help negate some of that in a second, but for now, let’s consider USPS Priority Mail®, FedEx 2Day®, and UPS 2nd Day Air® and how you can save on 2-3 day shipping costs.
Let’s get one thing clear from the onset: if you need guaranteed delivery on the second day, you’ll need to use FedEx or UPS. USPS does not have a guaranteed delivery window on Priority Mail. That being said, the service can typically get a package to its destination reliably within the 2-3 day window, particularly if you’re not shipping cross-country.
If you’re merely looking at a cost-analysis comparison, it’s tough for FedEx 2Day or UPS 2nd Day Air to beat Priority Mail. For packages up to 70 lbs and to nearly every zone, Priority Mail comes in substantially lower than what FedEx and UPS offer. That being said, as mentioned above, if you guarantee 2-day delivery to your customers so you can compete with Amazon you’ll need to use one of the other services. In that case, the shipping costs for either service are very comparable to each other, often coming in within a few cents of each other’s costs. You’ll also need to factor in fees and surcharges, such as fuel and residential charges, which USPS does not incorporate.
Want to quickly check how much you could be saving by using ShippingEasy’s rates? Try our savings calculator here!
Below is an example of what a 3 lb. package would cost shipping via the three different services from Local through Zone 8 (note this is based on announced rates and does not take into account any negotiated rates you may have with FedEx or UPS).
Zone 1 & 2
Save on Packages Less Than 1 lb.
Shipping packages that weigh less than one pound opens up another possibility to save massively. USPS First-Class Package Service® is simply unbeatable from a cost-effectiveness perspective. This service also comes with no guarantees, but like Priority Mail, it can often get a package to arrive in just a couple of days. If you peruse the chart below, you can see the massive savings over every other service offered by all three carriers, even the slowest methods like FedEx® Ground and UPS® Ground.
If you’re shipping a 7 oz. package to Zone 5, this is what kind of shipping costs you’re looking at across the various options:
- USPS FCPS: $3.57
- USPS Priority Mail: $7.88 (+ $4.31)
- FedEx Ground: $15.49 (+ $11.92)
- UPS Ground: $15.76 (+ $12.19)
Think paying at least almost $5 extra per package has an effect on your bottom line? When you use a smart platform like ShippingEasy, you can set automation to recognize the opportunity of lighter packages and automatically apply a service like FCPS. You don’t even have to think about it—the platform simply saves you money automatically!
Flat Rate Shipping Can Be a Gamechanger
Switching back to packages that weigh over 1 lb., particularly once you get to heavier packages, Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging can be a lifesaver. There are two types of Flat Rate: regular Flat Rate and Regional Rate. Let’s break those down a bit.
With either Regional Rate boxes or Flat Rate boxes and envelopes, USPS requires you to use specially marked boxes. Your items must fit inside and the packing must be sealed without any bulging.
If your products will fit into Flat Rate envelopes or Small boxes, USPS Flat Rate will always yield a lower rate than USPS Regional Rate boxes. This is across all weights (up to 70 lbs.) and zones.
On the other hand, Regional Rate boxes are more closely sized to the Flat Rate Medium and Large boxes. When comparing like-sized packages, each service has distinct advantages. Flat Rate boxes (Medium and Large) are a better option when shipping further (higher zone). Regional Rate boxes (A and B) will offer the lower price for shipping between closer destinations (lower zone), hence the name Regional Rate.
The key restriction of Regional Rate boxes is that the weight may not exceed 20 lbs., depending on the box option. In contrast, Flat Rate services support weight up to 70 lbs. (assuming your products will fit in the box).
You can see a full breakdown comparing these two methods here.
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|
Make Sure to Consider Dimensional Weight
Flat Rate and Regional Rate are great options if your products fit inside those packages. What if your product doesn’t fit in them? What if you’re trying to ship all the products in a large order in the same box? Something you’ll need to be aware of is dimensional weight.
Dimensional weight calculates shipping costs based on the volume (length x width x height) rather than the actual physical weight of a package. This basically means you pay more for the amount of space a package takes up on a truck or plane. We’ve already written a deep dive into dimensional weight (complete with examples) that you can read.
Packages that qualify for dimensional weight are those whose volume is greater than 1 cubic foot. If you have to use a large package based on the size of one product, you’ll just have to take the hit and pay the higher amount. If you are trying to fit as many products as possible into one large box, you may actually find it cheaper to break the shipment up into two Priority Mail packages. We break down that and other ways to avoid paying dimensional weight in this article.
Keeping up with customer expectations doesn’t have to break the bank. It just requires you to be as informed as possible, which is why we’ve written the complete guide to the 2021 shipping rate changes. Click below to download your free copy now!
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