Clothing and apparel is an eCommerce staple of increasing popularity. According to the research firm Statista, eCommerce revenues from clothes and apparel sales are projected to increase to $153.6 billion by 2024, representing a 67% increase since 2019.
Shipping clothes poses a number of challenges for eCommerce brands. This includes how to brand packaging, pick delivery options, and find the cheapest shipping option. Cost factors for shipping include box size, item weight, and more.
Use this article to learn the cheapest way to ship clothes, both domestically and internationally. Below you'll find price comparisons for leading couriers, tips on packing materials, and tips for mailing clothes so they arrive in top condition.
What's the Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes?
To find the cheapest shipping for clothes, start by comparing prices from different courier services. Typically, the domestic shipping companies with the cheapest way to ship clothes include:
USPS First Class is a popular way to ship clothes because it's affordable. The drawback is that the package weight limit is 15.99 ounces for the service, or under 1lb. USPS First Class is relatively quick as well, generally taking between 1-3 days to reach its destination.
FedEx Ship Manager Lite is another quick, affordable method for shipping clothes. Packages must weigh less than 68 kgs, or 150lbs. FedEx also provides free packaging with Manager Lite.
UPS Ground is cheap as well. It only costs $2.47 to ship a parcel below 2lbs. UPS Ground typically takes between 1-5 days to be delivered.
These rates don't reflect cross-border shipping, however, only domestic routes. To check exact rates by destination, try our Free Domestic Shipping Rate Calculator.
The next section shows you the cheapest way to ship clothes internationally.
What's The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes Internationally?
Identifying the cheapest way to ship clothes internationally can take a bit more work. Your options multiply because more courier services exist worldwide.
Here's a pro tip: USPS Priority Mail International – Flat Rate is typically the cheapest way to ship clothes across borders. For example, sending a package from Connecticut to Hong Kong is way cheaper with USPS than with FedEx or UPS, as seen below.
At $36.45 for a Flat Rate Box, USPS has bottom-dollar rates. Compare that with $113.69 for FedEx International Economy, or $127.05 for UPS Worldwide Expedited.
At these rates, the box weight limit is 4lbs. That said, you may find that shipping heavier boxes is cheaper with express couriers like UPS or FedEx.
To get exact rates by box size and weight, try our Free Shipping Rate Calculator. It's the fastest way to get the cheaptest rates for international clothing shipments. You'll see up-to-the-minute rates from all global couriers services, including USPS.
What's the Difference Between Flat Rate and Standard Shipping?
Unlike standard shipping, USPS Flat Rate doesn't factor weight into the shipping rate. This means it's a good option when shipping heavier boxes over greater distances.
Seen below, shipping a medium-sized box from Connecticut to Hong Kong is cheaper with USPS Flat Rate ($77.50) than with USPS Priority Mail International ($82.15).
Yet again, USPS is the cheapest way to ship clothing. Using USPS Flat Rate to ship clothes can also save you a bundle. However, it's rarely the fastest or most reliable option. If your customers want expedited shipping, pop into the shipping calculator to find speedier options.
What About Import Duties and Taxes on Clothing?
If you're shipping internationally you must consider import duties and taxes.
Import duties are a type of tax assessed by countries on goods entering the country. Almost all shipments are subject to these added fees, which are assessed when a shipment arrives at customs. Before your package can clear customers and be delivered to the customer, all import duties must be paid.
Customs documentation is what allows a package to clear customs. Most important among these documents is the commercial invoice, which describes the shipment, its value, and more. Secondly, you'll need to include a packing slip.
Shipping second-hand clothing? Check the shipping restrictions in the country of destination, as you might face prohibitions or pay added fees on certain items. Some countries that restrict clothing imports include:
- Australia (used outdoor clothing)
- Canada (clothing not allowed for re-sale)
- India (used clothing)
- Mexico (Chinese apparel and shoes)
- New Zealand (used outdoor clothing)
How to Weigh Clothes For Shipping
Package weight has a big impact on the cheapest way to ship clothes.
Couriers set the shipment price either by size or weight, whichever is more costly. Though it's typically inexpensive to ship clothes, you want to avoid overpaying. This means getting your package weight right, rounded to the nearest pound.
Here are a few ways to determine your shipment weight, and therefore, your final cost to ship:
- Use a bathroom scale for larger items
- Use a cooking scale for smaller items
- Look up item weights online
What if you only have a bathroom scale but the item is too light to show a change? Just weigh yourself first, then weigh yourself again while holding the item. The difference between the first and second measurement is the item weight, rounded to a pound. If you're unsure, rounding up is the safe way to ensure you avoid markups from the courier service.
How to Package Clothes For Shipping
Packaging is a balance of factors. For merchants, effective packaging helps to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Customers, though, pay attention to your branding, personalized notes, and thoughtful touches that enhance the unboxing experience.
Follow these tips to ship clothing as quickly and cheaply as possible:
- Avoid added cushioning
- Ship items together, when possible
- Weigh packages as you pack to ensure accuracy
- Ship in the smallest package available
- Use inexpensive bubble mailers for ultra-lightweight shipments
- Look for volume discounts on large shipments
Here are a few tips to help you create a delightful experience for shoppers:
- Use rigid packaging to protect delicate items
- Fold clothes before packing
- Include a handwritten "Thank You" note
- Use branded packaging
Options For Packing Materials
The cheapest way to ship involves the right choice of packaging. Additionally, using the right packing materials helps to ensure your items arrive intact and well-presented.
Your options for exterior packaging materials include:
- Cardboard boxes for large clothing shipments
- Tyvek envelopes for small, single-item shipments
- Bubble or clipboard mailers for delicate items with trinkets or buttons attached
- Corrugated boxes for long-distance shipments
How to Package Casual Apparel for Shipping
Whether you're shipping shirts, jeans, or pants, it's important to make sure your apparel arrives in top condition. To start, it's best to allocate a clean, open space for folding like a table of counter.
To pack a single shirt:
- Fold neatly. Make sure no wrinkles are visible. Shirts should be face down with sleeves folded backward.
- After folding, place in plastic sheath. Seal plastic with tape then place into a poly mailer. Add the shipping label.
To pack multiple shirts:
- Stack shirts. Ship in a box slightly larger than the volume of shirts to prevent folding and wrinkling in transit.
- For larger shipments, pack a cardboard box with packing material like brown Kraft paper or peanuts. This prevents slippage and wrinkling.
- Add the shipping label with all relevant information.
To pack single pants or jeans:
- Fold one pant leg on top of the other. Next, fold once from the knees to the pockets, then fold in half one more time.
- Slide into a plastic sheath or bag. Seal, then place into a poly mailer.
To pack multiple pants or jeans:
- Place each into a plastic bag, then stack in a box. To prevent wrinkling in transit, add plastic peanuts or bubble wrap to fill extra space.
- Tape the box exterior. If you're using a bubble mailer, seal the envelope.
- Add the shipping label with all relevant information.
How to Ship a Wedding Dress
A wedding dress deserves special attention when its shipped. Here are a few tips:
- Wrap the dress in acid-free tissue paper. Encase in a clear plastic garment bag. Place in a sturdy box.
- Write "Wedding Dress" on the exterior of the box. Secure outside with tape.
- If possible, most bridal shops will ship a wedding dress on your behalf.
- How much does it cost to ship a wedding dress? This depends on the destination and weight, plus any insurance and package tracking. The average wedding dress weighs about 7lbs. For exact rates on the cheapest way to ship a wedding dress, use our free shipping rates tool.
The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes
Clothes and apparel are an “it” item for global eCommerce. For online merchants, it's critical to know how to cost-effectively ship to customers. This means considering your options for cost-effective couriers, which may often be USPS. However, with delivery speed and reliability increasingly important to shoppers, you may need to broaden your set of options to give customers the shipping options they want.
Using Easyship gives you direct access to 250+ global courier services, plus savings up to 70% off on shipping rates. Create a free account to discover the cheapest ways to ship clothes, anywhere.
What are the Tax and Import duties for shipping clothes to the US?
Clothing imports into the US valued under $200 incur no customs duty. All regular clothing products over $200 incur a duty tax of 16.5%, though this may be higher for clothing made from animal product such as fur, leather, and wool.
How much does it cost to ship a hoodie USPS?
Assuming the hoodies weighs 1-2 lbs., USPS First Class Mail is cheapest at around $5. Using a slightly larger USPS envelope or small box costs roughly $8.
How do I ship clothes via FedEx?
Pack and ship at a FedEx Office location, or arrange for free pickup with Easyship.
First, create a shipment with your shipping information and payment method. You'll need to hang the clothes on a metal rod or pack them in the wardrobe box before shipping.