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What is The most cost effective Shipping Option

It has been a while since I’ve done a competitive analysis of the varied shipping carriers so I thought I’d do a fast update. With the United States Postal Service jacking up their rates every 4-6 months, what used to be essentially the most economical shipping method is now priced inline or even costlier than a few of the more reliable carriers like UPS or FedEx.

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Because there are so many various shipping variables and options to choose from, it’s difficult to make an apples to apples comparison without locking down some of the essential parameters. For the needs of this text, I’m going to assume the following.

A 14in X 12in X 3in package is being shipped cross country from California to a residence on the east coast. Incidentally, this is the same size as a USPS Medium Priority Mail Flat Rate Box.
Out of the box pricing for all shipping carriers which implies that lower negotiated rates based on volume will not be taken into account.
Labels are being printed online which suggests all associated USPS internet discounts apply.

At the tip, I’ll also discuss the trade offs between price, shipping time and reliability and provides my take on the most effective shipping strategy.

If you’re Shipping Something 2 Lbs Or Heavier With A 5 Day Delivery Window…
FedEx Ground or UPS Ground will almost always be cheaper than USPS Priority Mail. Between FedEx and UPS, FedEx will likely be cheaper than UPS out of the box because they give you an instant 15% off all shipments just for creating an online account(Note: The level of discount will vary but there’s always a discount program).

Update: As of 2016, both UPS and FedEx are actually charging for what known as “dimensional weight”. Basically what this implies is that in case your package is large or oversized, then the shipping charges will be drastically increased.

The dimensional weight calculation for UPS is currently L*W*H/166. So for example, if your package is 20X20X20 and weighs 10 pounds, you then would be charged for a package weighing 20*20*20/166 = 49 lbs instead of 10 lbs. Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper than USPS in this category.

The only exception to the above rule is that USPS offers 3 flat rate box shipping options, small, medium and huge. If you may manage to shove merchandise that’s heavier than 2lbs right into a small flat rate box (unlikely), you can save about 4 dollars.

However more realistically, you will need a medium flat rate box to ship something weighing 2lbs or more. The break even point between FedEx or UPS Ground and a Priority Mail flat rate medium box is about 4 lbs.

The break even point for a big Priority Mail flat rate box is about 7 lbs. So if your item is heavier than 4lbs, use a USPS flat rate medium box.

Should you need a big flat rate Priority Mail box, ensure it’s heavier than 7 lbs. Otherwise, FedEx or UPS Ground will always be cheaper.

Note: You’ll be able to receive significant discounts on USPS shipping by signing up for a ShippingEasy account. ShippingEasy also works with FedEx and UPS so you can easily compare shipping prices. Plus it’s free for up to 50 shipments per month!

If you’re Shipping Items Under 2 Pounds…
USPS will always be cheaper than FedEx or UPS hands down. However as the burden creeps closer to 2 pounds, USPS pretty much reaches pricing parity with UPS and FedEx Ground.

USPS really shines when your package weighs lower than 13 oz and can be mailed via First Class mail. In the event you don’t care about reliability, USPS is by far the most affordable shipping option for light items.

If you happen to Need Next Day Service…
USPS Express is once again the cheapest solution by far and it’s guaranteed. The only problem with USPS Express mail is that sometimes the delivery window is 2 days and also you won’t know unless you check online.

USPS also doesn’t offer a morning delivery time so if your client needs something originally of the business day, they are out of luck.

I’ve also discovered that USPS Express Mail is less reliable than FedEx or UPS Next Day Service. While they “guarantee” their delivery times, what this really means is that they’ll refund your money if the package is delivered late.

This has happened to me several times already and a shipping refund doesn’t make up for having an angry customer.

When you Need a 2-3 Day Delivery Window…
It’s unclear which delivery service is better in the event you need 2-3 day delivery because USPS doesn’t guarantee their delivery times for Priority or First Class Mail.

So while USPS Priority Mail cites a 2-3 day typical delivery time, it could possibly be slower or faster depending on various unknown factors.

In my experience, I’ve had some Priority Mail packages delivered within a single day and I’ve seen delivery times so long as 1.5 weeks. While the latter tends to be an anomaly, overall the delivery speed is somewhat random.

FedEx and UPS however, always guarantee their delivery times but are significantly more Full Lace Wigs With Neat Bangs Peruvian Human Virgin Hair expensive. In some cases, FedEx and UPS will cost you’ll over 2X the price of USPS.

My Take On The 3 Carriers
While USPS is the most affordable shipping carrier in most cases, their reliability is definitely the worst among the 3 carriers. Our online store primarily uses USPS because most of our orders are under 2 shake and go hair pounds. But we routinely get packages delayed or lost in the mail.

This past few months alone, now we have had 3 customers email us wondering where the shake and go hair hell their order was. Given our volumes, 3 customers might be statistically insignificant but having to deal with any unhappy customers is a pain in the neck.

While we don’t check on the status of all of our orders, I can let you know from experience that the quoted delivery times from USPS for both First Class and Priority Mail are completely hit or miss.

If you are sending a package to some podunk, middle of no where town, it’s more more likely to get delayed. Meanwhile, I’ve yet to ever have a FedEx or UPS package delayed or lost.

In the long run, it comes right down to reliability vs cost. For light items, USPS is the most affordable if that’s your goal. For heavier items >2lbs by which delivery time shouldn’t be a factor, FedEx or UPS Ground is the most affordable.

It’s the 2-3 day delivery window where it’s important to weigh the trade offs. Do you value reliability Is actual transit time a concern When you need a package to be delivered on time, use FedEx or UPS. If you are trying to save money, use USPS.

Our online store offers a mix of both. By default, we use USPS shipping to maintain the shipping costs low (our items are typically under 2 lbs). However, if a customer has a tight deadline, we use FedEx.

Speaking from experience, the savings of using USPS will not be definitely worth the hassle of pissing off a customer if there’s a deadline.

But it’s tough decision to make because customers are typically turned off by high shipping costs. In fact, the opposite option is always to raise your prices and lose money on shipping. It’s important to make the call.

Cheapest Option to Ship USPS
When you decide to make use of USPS as your primary shipping carrier, the cheapest solution to go is to use a service like enables you to print “First Class” postage from your printer (the USPS website doesn’t allow this) and offers significant discounts on practically every service that the United States Postal Service offers.

However, you’ll experience probably the most savings if you ship quite a lot of Priority Mail or Express Mail orders. The very best part is that the service is completely free for as much as 50 shipments per 30 days.

In addition, shipping with FedEx, UPS and DHL is all nicely integrated into so you only need a single tool to ship across all carriers.

Check them out. We use them as our primary shipping tool.
Cheapest Technique to Ship FedEx Or UPS

The one technique to get a better deal on FedEx or UPS is to negotiate. In fact, you’ll need to demonstrate that you could and will ship in volume but that shouldn’t be too hard in case you run a web based store.

Ideally, you must pick one carrier and focus on them. In my experience, UPS appears to be a bit hungrier than FedEx for your business so that they may be more willing to negotiate. But your mileage may vary. Don’t be too shy to select up a phone and speak to a sales rep. Good luck!

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