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Spoiled for Choice: How to Compare Shipping Rates for USPS, FedEx, and UPS

by EasyPost
Person packing homemade soaps to ship

When it comes to shipping carriers, players in the ecommerce space today have no shortage of options. This surplus of options is a good thing as diversifying your carrier network is key to a successful business. Finding the best options, however, is no easy task. From performance and features to cost, there are several variables to consider.

Comparing shipping costs of USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx (and more) can be daunting and time-consuming. The average person may become overwhelmed with the number of options and information available, but we want to give you some practical tips to make it easier for you to compare shipping rates.

1. Evaluate your needs

The carrier that you choose should ultimately reflect the specific needs of your business. For example, do you consistently ship heavy products over a short distance? Or maybe you consistently send lighter packages across longer distances to reach your customers. Different shipping carriers are tailored to excel in different aspects of shipping; some are geared toward heavier, larger boxes while others are superior in shipping packages longer distances.

USPS

USPS is the cheapest overall of shipping carriers, especially when it comes to ground shipping. Their trucks are running daily, so your customers will have quick and on-time local deliveries. USPS offers multiple different methods for shipping including USPS Priority Mail. With USPS Priority Mail, you can save even more on your shipping by getting free boxes that have standard shipping rates no matter their content. Additionally, with EasyPost, you can access USPS Commercial Plus Pricing for even lower shipping rates. Check out the USPS price calculator to estimate shipping rates.

UPS

UPS offers a variety of shipping methods including: international shipping, UPS Ground, 3-Day Select, and Next Day Air. This makes it easier to tailor your delivery time to your shipping needs. When you sign up for a UPS account on EasyPost, you gain access to special UPS shipping and including: up to 55% off UPS Ground shipping, up to 69% off daily rates for UPS 2nd Day Air and UPS Next Day Air, and up to 86% off international services.

FedEx

The most attractive feature of FedEx is that they offer international shipping. Similarly to UPS, they provide a variety of shipping methods and delivery timelines as well as a Small Business Rewards Program in which business owners can save up to 16% on select shipments. Check out the FedEx price calculator to estimate shipping rates.

Once you have a firm grasp on the types of shipments stemming from your business, you’ll be able to choose a carrier mix accordingly.

2. Know your customer base

When comparing shipping rates, it is important to consider the needs and wants of your target customers. This will help you to select the carrier that suits you and your customers best. For example, if you know that your customers prefer a quick delivery option, you will want to compare shipping rates between carriers that provide a 2-day delivery service.

3. Evaluate rates

The second step to comparing shipping rates is to evaluate the current rate that each shipper offers. How much do these carriers charge and how do they compare to others? Who has the cheapest shipping? Are there price options for smaller or larger businesses? Do they offer savings for long-term contracts? Decide which options are most cost-effective and make the most sense for you. Consider, also, the time of year. Shipping rates tend to increase during the holiday season, so the rate you see may not be the rate you’ll pay next quarter.

Shipping rates are constantly changing, so to avoid incorrect estimates, it’s important to check back frequently to make sure you are up to date on what the current rates are.

Here are the links to each of the major carrier's price calculators for reference.

4. Evaluate performance

Once you’ve evaluated the cost that each carrier offers, evaluate the carrier’s performance. Based on your experience or the research you’ve done, consider how each carrier has performed in the past. Did they live up to their expectations and promises? Is there any reason for you to believe that their performance will change in the future? How do they perform during the holiday season?

When evaluating performance, remember that swift delivery is not the only metric to measure. Make sure that the carrier does not inhibit operations that may be critical to your business. For instance, some of your customers want fast delivery while others want the option to deliver the package to a locker. Keep in mind what is important to you and your customers, and evaluate performance and features accordingly. Performing a critical evaluation of a carrier will help you determine if their rates are worth it for your business.

5. Always negotiate

After reviewing the rates and performance of each carrier, the final step in the process is negotiation. The rate you’re offered in the beginning does not have to be the rate you pay. If there is any perceived disconnect between the carrier’s rate and their performance, bring this to their attention. If you can find better performance for the same price elsewhere, let the carrier know. This could lead to a temporary or permanent change in your rate.

If you ship high volumes, you also have a better chance of influencing your rate as your business could mean a lot for the carrier. The goal here is not to take advantage of your carrier, but simply to make sure all is fair and reasonable.

The takeaway

Having a diverse and healthy group of business partners and vendors is critical for the success of any business. Remember that you always have options and you can (and should) choose more than one shipping carrier for your needs. While it may seem like a long and tedious process, choosing the right mix of carriers is essential in curating a positive customer experience.

This is where a reliable shipping partner like EasyPost can step in to help. Our Shipping API and rate comparison tools help to make this process as smooth and painless as possible. We compare shipping rates for our customers and present them with the best options so they can focus on running their business.

Make an account with EasyPost to start optimizing your shipping today!