Shipping calculation is often a road block for small e-commerce businesses. Many issues come into play when calculating shipping costs:
- Ship from/to addresses
- Weight of product and packing material
- Dimensions of your items/containers
- Delivery Time
- Tracking Numbers
- Handling Fees
Let's discuss two popular shopping carriers: USPS Priority Mail vs. UPS.
USPS Priority Mail
The US Postal Service offers standard and priority shipping. Priority mail is usually a 2-3 day ground delivery anywhere in the continental US.
- Cost. Priority mail will almost always beat the price of UPS Ground Service.
- Free materials. The post office offers free boxes for Priority Mail customers.
- Confirmation #. This allows you to confirm delivery of your product. This is also free if you print your labels from the USPS web site: http://www.usps.com
- Insurance is expensive. Current rates show insurance on a $100 package at $3.75
- Confirmation number is not a tracking number. You cannot use the USPS confirmation number to track where your shipment is, only if it has been delivered or not.
UPS offers a wide range of delivery methods. Anything from a next-day air to three-day ground.
- Tracking numbers. UPS allows customers to find out exactly where the shipment is once it leaves your store.
- Insurance is cheap. UPS includes $100 of insurance into their price. After that the insurance is pennies on the dollar compared to USPS insurance.
- More Flexible. UPS offers a wide range of shipping options.
- UPS is more expensive, around 40% more for light packages between 2 and 5 pounds.
- You must find a UPS drop off location. UPS locations are often harder to find than post offices. Third party drop-off locations will add their own fees. Be sure your drop-off location offers true UPS rates.
If most of your shipments are relatively light (under 6 pounds), and have a value under $100 USPS Priority is a good bet. If you are shipping expensive, heavy, or extremely fragile products that need insurance, UPS will probably be a better solution.