For purposes of this discussion let’s assume it’s a shipment from a U.S. address to a U.S. address. (International shipments are determined differently.) It’s very simple…
- How much does your product and packaging material weigh together? For example, if you ship a small bottle weighing 6oz inside a corrugated box weighing 2.5oz, your shipment would be 8.5oz–which would be rounded up to 9oz.
- If the answer is less than 16 ounces (1 pound / 454 grams), your shipment is eligible for USPS First Class (approximately $3.50 – $6.50 at the time of this writing). (Other “consolidated” services effectively service these lightweight shipments; however, we’ll just use USPS First Class as an example for simplicity.)
Speed for USPS First Class shipments is usually 3 to 5 days (depending on the time of year and distance traveled). In our experience, while the “consolidated” services might be a few cents cheaper, they are much slower and not worth the headache and increased customer service costs (“Where is my package!?”).
The exact cost of the shipment will be determined by: a) the exact weight of the shipment (1 – 16 oz), and b) the “Zone” of the destination zip code from the shipper’s zip code. (For example, a shipment from New York to California will be a Zone 8 shipment and cost more than a Shipment from New York to Washington D.C., a Zone 3 shipment.) We advise clients to assume a “Zone 5” shipment on average.
- If the answer is equal to or more than 16 ounces (1 pound / 454 grams), your shipment should be “rate shopped” between UPS, FedEx, and USPS Priority Mail. (Any fulfillment center worth talking to will have software that can “rate shop” different carriers on every shipment to get the best rate on a given shipment.)
Generally speaking, USPS Priority Mail will “beat” UPS Ground and FedEx Ground in the “rate shop” on lighter weight, closer “Zone” shipments. As the distance and weight increase, it becomes more likely that UPS and FedEx will “win” the “rate shop.”
As of this writing (2022), shipments that weigh 1 to 10 pounds will cost anywhere from $8.00 to $18.00 (roughly!) – depending on exact weight (which is rounded up to the nearest pound) and Zone of end destination.
Importantly, this price includes the Base Rate + Residential Delivery Surcharge that FedEx and UPS apply + the Fuel Surcharge that FedEx and UPS apply. USPS only has a Base Rate. The Fuel Surcharge changes weekly, and the Base Rate and Residential Delivery Surcharge are reset (increased) annually.
Shipments above 1 pound also have to consider “Dimensional Weight.” Shipments will be priced at the greater of real weight (on a scale) and their dimensional weight (L x W x H in inches / 139 = Dimensional Weight in LBs). (So a massive box of feathers will cost more to ship than a small brick.)
Lastly, this discussion only considered the most efficient method (balancing cost and speed). If speed is the only concern, there are “Express Options” (i.e. Overnight, 2-day, etc. from both UPS and FedEx). If cost is the only concern, there are numerous cheap “consolidated” services. However, in our opinion, the above discussion should cover ~90%+ of your needs, with maybe the occasional expedited shipment. The slow/cheap consolidated services (in our opinion!) are not worth the headache.
Additional shipping cost questions: Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to effectively ship your products.