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Shipping Tips & Solutions

The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes & Apparel

The cheapest way to ship clothes is easier than you think. Discover how to mail apparel, and the best boxes for shipping with a few simple tips.
The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes & Apparel
Jules

By Jules

 

April 28, 2022

Key Points:

  • USPS First Class, FedEx Ship Manager Lite, and UPS Ground are the cheapest ways to ship clothes domestically
  • It costs $11.35 to ship a 2-pound package of clothes from New York to Los Angeles and takes 1-5 business days for delivery
  • Easyship saves users up to 91% discounted shipping rates on 250+ couriers, so eCommerce merchants like yourself can have instant access to the cheapest shipping rates

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.

Table of Contents

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 affordable as well. It costs $15.57 to ship a 2-pound package of clothes from New York to Los Angeles and takes 1-5 business days for delivery. Or, alternatively, it's $13.36 to ship the same 2-pound package from New York to Miami.

These rates don't reflect cross-border shipping, however, only domestic routes. Try our Free Domestic Shipping Rate Calculator to check exact rates by destination.

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 2-pound package from Connecticut to Hong Kong is way cheaper with USPS than with FedEx or UPS, as seen below.

Courier Service Lead Time Cost
USPS Priority Mail International - Small Flat Rate Box 6-10 business days $42.15
USPS First-Class Package International 7-21 business days $28.85
UPS Worldwide Expedited® 4-5 business days $162.27
UPS Saver® 2-3 business days $176.88
FedEx International Economy 3-5 business days $159.25
FedEx International Priority 3-5 business days $163.98

At $42.15 for a Flat Rate Box, USPS has affordable rates. Compare that with $159.25 for FedEx International Economy, or $162.27 for UPS Worldwide Expedited®.

To get exact rates by box size and weight, try our Free Shipping Rate Calculator. It's the fastest way to get the cheapest rates for international clothing shipments. You'll see up-to-the-minute rates from all global couriers services, including USPS.

Clothes Ready to Be Shipped

As a rule of thumb, however, USPS is often your most affordable option. That said, USPS uses specific pricing for certain countries. If you want, check the pricing tables for yourself.

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.

As seen below, shipping a small-sized box from Connecticut to Hong Kong is cheaper with USPS Flat Rate - Small Flat Rate Box ($42.15) than with USPS Priority Mail International ($76.20) for a 2-pound package.

Courier Service Lead Time Cost
USPS Priority Mail International - Small Flat Rate Box 6-10 business days $42.15
USPS Priority Mail International - Medium Flat Rate Box 6-10 business days $84.55
USPS Priority Mail International - Large Flat Rate Box 6-10 business days $110.40
USPS Priority Mail Express International 6-10 business days $76.20
UPS Worldwide Expedited® 4-5 business days $162.27
UPS Saver® 2-3 business days $176.88
FedEx International Economy 3-5 business days $159.25
FedEx International Priority 3-5 business days $163.98

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. The commercial invoice is the most important among these documents, 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. Other facts that impact the cheapest shipping  cost include factors such as the following:

  • Courier service
  • Delivery speed
  • Shipping distance
  • Package dimensions

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 measurements 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 or 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 a plastic sheath. Seal plastic with tape then place it 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.  
  • Pack a cardboard box with packing material like brown Kraft paper or peanuts for larger shipments. 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.  

Related post: What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship Books?

How to Ship a Wedding Dress

A wedding dress deserves special attention when it's 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.
  • Most bridal shops will ship a wedding dress on your behalf if possible.

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. Use our free shipping rates tool for exact rates on the cheapest way to ship a wedding dress.  

The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothes with Easyship

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 91% off on shipping rates. With Easyship, you'll gain access to features and benefits such as the following:

  • Free Shipping Rates Calculator: Access high-volume discounts from major couriers. Plus, get instant access to delivery lead times from premium shipping couriers
  • Easyship Branding Suite: Easyship provides a delivery experience consistent with your brand. Add your logo and advertising materials to your packing slips, landing pages, and tracking emails
  • Shipping Policy Generator: Our shipping policy generator helps merchants and crowdfunding campaigns generate their shipping policy by providing tracking and insurance options, plus other vital information for your shipping process

Create a free account to discover the cheapest ways to ship clothes, anywhere.

Shipping Clothes FAQ

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 products such as fur, leather, and wool.

How much does it cost to ship a hoodie USPS?

Assuming the hoodies weigh 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.