Types of Shipping Methods: Know Which One is Best for Your Business

As a company, if you fail to opt for the best shipping methods and shipping carriers, then your shopping cart abandonment rate can be affected. Did you even know that potential customers don’t hesitate to move on to a different website if their preferred shipping method is not found?

This is why businesses must pay extra attention to the shipping process or the carrier they partner with.

FedEx, the US-based courier delivery services company, generated over 93.5 billion USD in revenue in 2022. This number highlights how big the eCommerce industry is and how important it is to tie up with the best shipping carriers.

In this article, we will shed more light on various types of shipping methods, and the top shipping carriers. Let’s get straight into this topic.

What is the Shipping Process?

The process of delivering goods from one point to another, in particular, the merchandise from the warehouse to the customer, is called shipping. 

Additionally, this process entails documentation, handling the packages, and noting the arrival times and means of transportation.

However, at a high level, this process can be broken into three basic processes: receiving the order, processing it, and finally fulfilling it.

These three stages of the shipping process are impacted by how quickly and accurately you can prepare the customer’s order and get it shipped to its destination. But for eCommerce shipping, you will need a shipper. So, who is a shipper?

The shipper is the person who processes and prepares the order to ship, and the carrier is the person who does the last-mile delivery process.

Sometimes 3PLs are part of the process. 3PL is a third-party logistics provider that offers inbound and outbound logistics. When an eCommerce company partners with a 3PL, the 3PL receives shipping orders directly from the fulfillment center where the eCommerce inventory is stored.

Types of Shipping Methods

People thinking of starting a business often overlook the shipping and delivery methods for their business. Though it seems to be a background process, it is not just an important process but a complex one too. 

Below you will find the different types of eCommerce shipping methods:

1. Freight

If the shipment weighs more than 150 pounds or measures more than 30X30X30 inches, it is considered freight. Simply put, shipping large quantities of goods is called freight. This type of transporting commodities, goods, and cargo is performed by land, air, or sea.  

Freight - types of shipping methods

Types of freight shipping are:

  • Ground freight through trucks
  • Ocean freight through ships
  • Air freight through planes
  • Multimodal freight through a combination of vehicles

Shipping time and pricing get influenced by factors such as the mode of transport, the origin and destination, the size and weight, and if any, special handling is required.

2. Flat rate

This type of shipping doesn’t charge based on the item’s weight, shape, or size. So you can ship any item at the same price within the shipping zone. Usually, the price for flat-rate shipping is calculated and fixed by the ecommerce site and its shipping partner.

Flat-rate shipping saves your pocket in the long run, especially if you often ship heavy or multiple items in one box.

3. Overnight

When the package gets delivered to the customer, the day it’s shipped is called the overnight shipping method. Based on the shipping carrier, the price and terms and conditions may vary. However, if your company is partnered with a platform that offers pre-negotiated discounts, you can save some bucks.

4. Priority mail

Priority mail is an exclusive service USPS provides and is a brand name, not a unique shipping method. It operates just like shipping methods, such as expedited and overnight shipping. This type ships goods within the US in 1 to 3 business days, depending on the origin and destination. 

5. International

As the name suggests, if the shipping originates from a different country than the destination, then it is called an international shipping method. However, this shipping type requires more formalities since it is shipped to a different country. 

International - types of shipping methods

You need to submit customs declarations and forms that have clear details about what’s inside the package, the cost, and if it’s merchandise or a gift for the customs officers receiving the parcel. 

Provide details on applicable taxes, tariffs, and duties. If there are any surprise costs, your customer must bear them. So, ensure you give clear warnings on your website. 

6. Expedited 

If the package is delivered much faster than the standard shipping time, it is called expedited shipping. You will find carrier companies offering unique branded names for expedited shipping, and the service might differ.

Here are some examples of expedited shipping services. 

  • UPS calls this shipping method UPS expedited shipping.
  • USPS refers to USPS expedited shipping using terms such as Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.  

7. Local delivery or pickup

This shipping type benefits small businesses that sell goods based on location. Local delivery depends on your business team’s bandwidth. As a business owner, you can deliver the package to the customer’s location or get your team members to do the work. Also, with a local pickup option, nearby customers can go straight to your store and get their delivery. 

8. Multiple addresses

If you buy a headphone set from a website for you and your friend and get it delivered to your house and your friend’s house, then it is the method.

So, if a customer sends different items in a single order to multiple addresses, it is called a multiple-address shipping type.

Besides this, if customers want to combine different fulfillment methods to collect their items, such as standard shipping, local delivery, or in-store pickup, then they use this type of shipping. 

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What are the Reliable Shipping Options?

A shipping carrier refers to a person or company physically delivering products to customers. So, the carriers charge for each delivery. However, the shipping costs vary depending on a combination of weight, shipping speeds, and distances. The carriers also include shipping labels in the packages containing information about the source and destination.

Some reliable shipping options in the US are USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

1. UPS 

UPS is abbreviated as United Parcel Service. It’s a big player in the shipping industry and specializes in the secure and fast delivery of goods. 

This carrier is a big favorite among eCommerce business merchants because of its reliability, accurate tracking system, and guaranteed express shipping. This is why several eCommerce platforms in the US use this carrier.   

Though this is a reputed brand, it has its cons, such as pricey shipping rates, and weekend delivery costs extra.

2. USPS 

If you own a small business and are looking for affordable shipping charges to make small and light shipments, then USPS suits you best.

What makes the United States Postal Service stand out from its competitors is it’s an independent federal agency. It is responsible for providing postal services to all US residents. The best part is it pledges “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” will stop the employees from delivering the packages and it’s also known for its accurate rates. 

However, limited tracking and poor customer support are some of its disadvantages.

3. FedEx

You probably heard about FedEx often if you are one of those avid online shoppers. This carrier is the best option for merchants looking for fast shipping. It also gained a big reputation for its air shipments, next-day deliveries, and shipping to foreign county options available at different shipping prices and desired delivery times. 

If you want to make large shipments and track them, FedEx is a reliable shipping option. Like UPS, it can be an expensive option, but its features, such as good shipping strategy, accurate tracking, Saturday delivery, and discounted rates, easily make up for it.

Comparison Between Popular Shipping Carriers

Let’s talk about some reality here. There is no one best shipping carrier in the US. Because there are no one-size-fits-all shipping solutions. However, we will compare popular shipping companies for shipping such as UPS, USPS, and FedX and find out what differentiates them from their competitors.

Shipping Carrier UPS USPS FedEx
Number of employees 481,000 600,000 425,000
Number of vehicles 123,000 215,000 87,000
Number of shipments 21M shipments per day 500M mail pieces daily 14M shipments per day
Domestic & International delivery Yes Yes Yes
Operating hours 9:00 am to 7:00 pm 24 hours a day 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
Working days Open from Monday till Friday Delivers seven days a week Delivers seven days a week
Insurance Up to $100 of coverage for every package Up to $5,000 for damaged or lost items Up to $100 of coverage for every package
Best for Guaranteed shipping, package tracking, and heavy shipments Shipping small packages, shipping to PO boxes, and free pickup Fast deliveries, package tracking, and Saturday home delivery

How Much Does it Cost?

In this section, we shall discuss the shipping rate of some top shipping carriers.

1. FedEx shipping costs

Shipping Service Shipping Speed Shipping Cost
FedEx First Overnight 1 day $164.52
FedEx Priority Overnight 1 day $127.47
FedEx First Overnight 2 days $145.40
FedEx Priority Overnight 2 days $108.35
FedEx Standard Overnight 2 days $95.11
FedEx 2Day AM 3 days $50.32
FedEx Express Saver 4 days $36.71
FedEx Ground 5 days $13.91

2. USPS shipping costs

Shipping Service Shipping Speed Shipping Cost
Priority Mail Express 1-Day 1 day $48.45
Priority Mail 3 days $11.60
Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box 3 days $21.50
Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box 3 days $16.10
Priority Mail Large Small Rate Box 3 days $9.45
USPS Retail Ground 7 days $10.25

3. UPS shipping costs

Shipping Service Shipping Speed Shipping Cost
UPS Next Day Air Early 1 day $134.98
UPS Next Day Air 1 day $99.13
UPS Next Day Air Saver 1 day $88.47
UPS 2nd Day Air AM 2 days $44.36
UPS 2nd Day Air 2 days $38.68
UPS 3 Day Air Select 3 days $31.50
UPS Ground 4 days $13.18

How to choose the best shipping carrier? 

Below are the factors that will help you choose a reliable shipping carrier. 

  • Pricing: As a business owner, you will tie up with a shipping carrier to deliver your goods. So, ensure the charges fit your budget. 
  • International shipping: Not all carrier companies do shipping internationally. 
  • Delivery experience: Check if the carrier company offers unique services apart from the default, such as pickup locations, special door access, etc. 
  • Weight limits: How large is your product package? Some carriers have weight limits, so ensure that the company can ship your items. 
  • Insurance: Looking for some extra protection for your packages? Choose a carrier that offers insurance coverage. 

Other factors to consider are weekend delivery options, different eCommerce shipping options, and the type of products they ship.

Let Upper Help You Pull Down Shipping Costs

When delivering goods to physical locations, your delivery driver might find it pressurized. Because they have to plan or find a route, especially if you have committed to same-day delivery. If the delivery time gets too long, the reputation can get affected. 

This is why you need powerful route planning software such as Upper Route Planner. This automated route planning software can easily handle your delivery operations and ensure you meet the customer’s expectations.  

With an array of routing features, it ensures you don’t waste time in route planning.

For instance, When the routes are optimized, you get time and space for more deliveries. Also, you can plan and optimize multiple routes at once. You can even plan routes for same-day delivery. Overall, with properly optimized routes, you can save fuel costs, simultaneously serving more customers.

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FAQs

Though companies give you multiple shipping options, none of the companies offer free shipping. But some carrier companies offer discounts on shipping fees for bulk orders. However, some eCommerce companies offer free shipping in multiple ways, like- limiting free shipping zones or setting minimum purchase amounts.

eCommerce businesses usually use freight shipping to ship mass quantities of products to a distributor or fulfillment center. Here they will use regional or local shipping methods to deliver the goods to customers.

Delivered duty-paid shipping is a delivery agreement between buyers and sellers that the seller will take accountability for the risks and responsibilities of transportation until the buyer receives the goods. This shipping method opts for international shipping.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that online shopping is on the rise and successfully delivering packages is an essential aspect of the customer experience. But most delivery businesses often consider the shipping process a massive headache.

Because customers expect to pay a little for shipping and receive the order quickly and in perfect condition. This problem can be eliminated by choosing the right shipping method to deliver your goods to the customers without any issues.

That said, you will find different types of shipping methods given in this article. Based on your business needs, you must opt for the best shipping method and associate with a reliable shipping carrier.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

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