What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship Clothing? | ShippingEasy

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship Clothing?

By Rob Zaleski
Apr 1, 2020
Cheapest way to ship clothing blog header

More and more shoppers’ first instinct when shopping for clothes is to head online now. There are a number of contributing factors to this, such as more relaxed return policies, the popularity of subscription boxes, and more niche designers and stores hitting the online scene. With those online purchases comes an increase in the need to ship items to customers (though Buy Online Pickup In-Store—or BOPIS, as it’s shortened to—is also becoming a popular way to still support local businesses). Many smaller retailers already operate on thin margins, so we often hear the question: what is the cheapest way to ship clothing?

In 2018, according to Statista, U.S. retail e-commerce revenue from the sale of fashion apparel, footwear, and accessories amounted to an estimated $102 billion and is projected to grow to almost $146 billion by 2023. You don’t want to miss out on your slice of that pie, so we’re here to help you understand the best way to ship clothing at the best price.

Cheapest way to ship clothing Under 1 Pound

Many single-item clothing purchases you ship will come in less than 1 pound, and it can be easy to overpay on shipping if you’re not paying attention. Customers who purchase clothing online are typically not concerned as much about getting the item ASAP so you may not need to worry about as much about expensive, highly-expedited shipping options. They’ll still want it in a reasonable amount of time, however.

As an example below, we take a look at some of the most popular shipping methods from USPS, FedEx, and UPS to see how much a package weighing 14 oz. would cost to ship from Houston to Miami.

Shipping Clothing Under 1 lb.
(14 oz, Zone 5)
Shipping Cost* 
UPS Ground$9.76(not including fees and surcharges)
FedEx Home Delivery$9.76(not including fees and surcharges)
USPS Priority Mail$7.80
USPS First Class Package$5.27
*Prices reflect carrier Commercial Rates, Daily Rates, etc

As you can see, First-Class Package Service is basically unbeatable as the cheapest way to ship clothing under 1 pound. Shipping to a Zone 5 destination is likely to still get the package to arrive within 3 days, which is often the expectation of most customers.

Cheapest way to ship clothing greater than 1 Pound

Once you start packaging multiple items together, you’re quickly likely to find the weight exceeds the 15.999 oz. weight limit of USPS First-Class Package Service. From there, you will need to look at the other options listed in the table above.

As also noted in the chart above, when shipping with UPS and FedEx, you need to take into account residential and fuel surcharges. Also, UPS and FedEx apply dimensional weight to all packages (where the shipping cost is based on the volume of the package rather than the weight; a full breakdown of dimensional weight can be found here), whereas USPS only applies it to packages larger than 1728 in (1 cubic foot). It’s not likely you’ll be using boxes that measure that size for clothing, so it shouldn’t be a concern if you’re shipping USPS.

Let’s look at a similar example. A couple of pairs of pants come in at just over 3 lbs., so we round up to 4 lbs.

Shipping Clothing Over 1 lb
(4 lbs, Zone 5)
Shipping Cost* 
UPS Ground$12.26(not including fees and surcharges)
FedEx Home Delivery$12.26(not including fees and surcharges)
USPS Priority Mail$10.33
*Prices reflect carrier Commercial Rates, Daily Rates, etc

As you can see, USPS is considerably cheaper than UPS and FedEx using Priority Mail. The nice thing too is that you can get free supplies that fit clothing items nicely. Just order them from USPS and they’ll deliver them to your home or office!

Consider Flat Rate Options

Particularly for packages traveling longer distances, Flat Rate can be a smart and cheap way to ship clothing. Flat Rate shipping removes the weight (up to 70 lbs.) and distance (domestically, international is still broken up into groups) from consideration and offers a single rate to ship. Let’s take a look at an example of a package shipping standard USPS Priority Mail across the country and how much it would cost to use a flat rate option.

A pair of men’s jeans weighs about 1 lb. 6 oz. That would be rounded up to 2 lbs. Let’s say that the package is traveling a moderate distance across the country, Zone 7.

  • Priority Mail (Commercial Rates): $10.54
  • PM Flat Rate Padded Envelope (Commercial Rates): $7.75
  • Savings by using Flat Rate: $2.79

A savings of nearly three dollars is a substantial amount and will add up quickly. However, you still have to be smart about using it, as defaulting to Flat Rate will not always be the cheapest option. Let’s take a look at the same example, but with the package traveling close, Zone 2.

  • Priority Mail (Commercial Rates): $7.64
  • PM Flat Rate Padded Envelope (Commercial Rates): $7.75
  • Increased cost using Flat Rate: $0.11

Now that may not be substantial, but it still makes a difference.

Once packages start to get a bit larger due to multiple items being included, Regional Rate boxes are an option to look into as well. These boxes take distance into account and beat out Flat Rate shipping for locations that are nearby.

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$8.92$13.20
New York to Los Angeles$12.10$13.20
Dallas to San Antonio$7.92$13.20

UPS offers a flat rate option called Simple Rate, and FedEx offers one called One Rate. Both of these include fuel surcharges and residential delivery fees and also should be explored as opportunities when possible or available.

Constantly comparing rates can be time-consuming, and you simply don’t have the bandwidth to manage that. A shipping software platform will help you find the cheapest way to ship clothing and anything else you need to ship to your customers efficiently.

ShippingEasy even offers Instant Rate, a feature that automatically selects the best shipping method based on a number of factors.

Give our platform a try FREE for 30 days to find the cheapest way to ship your products quickly, easily, and with the help of automation and real humans in Austin, TX.

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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.

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