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Shipping Tips & Solutions

What's the Cheapest Way to Ship Packages in 2020?

Looking for the cheapest way to send a package? In this guide we'll cover what impacts shipping prices and how you can lower your costs wherever you're shipping.
What's the Cheapest Way to Ship Packages in 2020?
Jules

By Jules

 

September 15, 2020

In 2020,eCommerce delivery expectations are changing, and most online buyers have come to expect faster, cost-effective (or free!) shipping options. That means high shipping costs can be a big turnoff to potential buyers and can cost you a lot of business down the line.

It is therefore important to be able to determine the cheapest way to ship a package to your buyers from different shipping zones within the US or overseas. This will not only help you convert shipping-cost-sensitive shoppers and stay ahead of the competition but it will also improve your bottom line and help you to remain profitable.

So, what is the cheapest way to ship a package these days? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer that suits, well, boxes of all sizes this article will help you figure out the factors that affect shipping rates and some ways you can negotiate shipping discounts from the major couriers.

Packages for Delivery in back of truck
Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum 

4 Crucial Shipping Rate Factors to Consider

There is no singular, universal shipping  method that’s considered the gold standard for inexpensively shipping a package. Keep in mind that depending on what you’re shipping you must also factor in a parcel’s weight and size, how quickly you need your package to get to its destination, and your shipping zone or country.

Here, we discuss the four crucial factors to consider when determining the cheapest way to ship boxes. They include:

1.Speed

How fast do you want your package to get to its destination? As instant gratification becomes the norm, speedy shipping will certainly play a role. But keep in mind, the faster the delivery speed, the more you will have to pay.

Do you want your package to be delivered overnight, the next day, in two days, within three days, or you are willing to wait for 7days? Different courier companies offer various time-sensitive delivery options to cater to your preferred delivery timeframe. But you’ll have to pay to play, so to speak. Overnight delivery may cost five times more than ground delivery.

For 2-3-day shipping, USPS Priority Mail offers the most competitive rates for packages weighing 10lb and below. But UPS and FedEx services offer more enticing rates when shipping packages above 10lbs within the same delivery window.

For packages with a hard two-day delivery timeframe, UPS 2nd Day and FedEx 2Day are the best options because USPS doesn't offer guaranteed services within this timeframe.

For expedited next-day Day or overnight delivery, UPS Next Day Air Saver and FedEx Standard Overnight offer competitive rates compared to USPS.

2. Distance

First thing’s first, consider which shipping zone your package is being sent from. Shipping carriers split the US into 8 shipping zones based on the distance your package has to travel from the mailing address or zip code. The further the shipping zone from the destination address, the higher the shipping rate will be.

Domestic shipping vs international shipping also comes to play when sending packages to your customers in different places. As you would expect, international shipping comes at higher shipping rates than domestic shipping.

Having distribution centers in different parts of the US can help your business mitigate the shipping costs and shorten the delivery time for your customers by ensuring your merchandise is stored closer to the final destination. With that in mind, Easyship partners with 3PL providers and warehouses across different cities around the world to help you shorten your shipping distances and times.

3. Weight

The weight of your package is a crucial factor to consider when finding the cheapest way to ship boxes. How heavy or light your package is will impact its shipping rate.

USPS offers the most competitive rates when shipping lightweight packages under 1 pound or 16 oz, using USPS First Class Mail or USPS Media Mail when shipping physical media.

USPS Priority Mail offers a cost-effective option when sending items between 1-10 lbs, while FedEx and UPS Ground/Home delivery offer the lowest rates for heavy packages within the US.

4.  Size

The size of a package has everything to do with how much space it occupies in the back of a track based on its dimensions. The larger the package, the greater the shipping cost. Different couriers offer several options to help you optimize your package size for shipping.

One such option is to use Flat Rate Packages with USPS. Although this isn’t always guaranteed to be the cheapest way to ship a box, it will help you maintain steady shipping costs. First Class Mail envelopes, flat rate envelopes, and USPS Priority Mail offer the lowest rates for small packages.

Another option is to use cubic pricing. Cubic pricing is a special USPS service that offers lower shipping rates when sending small, heavy items that are under 20lbs with USPS Priority Mail.

Here is how to calculate the cubic feet for your package: Cubic feet = Length x Width x Height/ 1728.

Dimensional pricing is also used when determining the shipping cost of your package. If your package is too large in proportion to its weight, the dimensional weight will be used to determine the shipping rate. The larger the dimensional weight, the higher the shipping rate, as the package will take up more space in airplanes and other cargo vehicles.

Dimensional weight is calculated by dividing the dimension of your package with a divisor. The larger the divisor, the cheaper the shipping rate.

Dimensional weight = (L x W x H)/ Divisor.

USPS has the largest dimensional weight divisor, hence offers the cheapest way to ship a package based on its dimensional weight.

Additional Factors to Consider

There are also other additional factors that you need to consider — apart from the cost. A cheap option that doesn't offer excellent tracking services, insurance, or doesn't commit to its delivery timeframes may come with its share of inconveniences that outweigh the eye-catching price.

Here are some additional factors you should consider:

  • Insurance: Insurance provides security for your goods on transit. Plus, it helps to mitigate any risks related to lost or damaged packages. While researching the cheapest way to ship boxes, it is smart to check whether the carrier with the most competitive rates offers insurance for your packages. While it may cost extra, it could make sense to go for a carrier with a higher shipping rate that includes insurance overa cheaper option that doesn't cover you and requires a separate purchase of insurance.
  • Tracking: Tracking helps you streamline your buyers’ shipping experience and it builds trust by providing package visibility throughout its journey. The most inexpensive way to ship a package may come with spotty tracking services, so you may need to weigh your options right to make sure that you select an  option with excellent tracking services.
  • Handling Fees: Handling fees sometimes are applied depending on how delicate your shipment is. When choosing the cheapest way to ship boxes, you should always check to see whether you will need to pay any separate handling fees.
  • Fuel and residential surcharges:Often, inexpensive shipping plans have hidden costs — like last-mile delivery fees, like fuel or residential surcharges. When making your shipping choice, make sure to check for these additional charges.
  • Delivery guarantee: You need to check whether the cheapest shipping option commits to its delivery timelines so that you don't inconvenience your customers. After all, it’s always about serving your customers

Cheapest and Fastest Shipping Options

Now that we have looked at the different delivery factors that affect shipping rates, it is time to look at the options side-by-side based on each one of them.

USPS FedEx UPS
Less than 10 lbs (Standard) X
Over 10lbs (Standard) X X
Envelopes X
Light boxes X
Heavy boxes X X
Two-day shipping X X
Next-day shipping (AM) X
Next-day shipping (PM) X X
Expedited International shipping X
Priority International X X
Overnight X

Cheapest Shipping Services for the Major Couriers

To get the cheapest rates from the different couriers, use a shipping rate calculator to compare rates based on your package size, weight, destination, and delivery speed.

Let’s look at the cheapest way to ship a package with each of the major shipping couriers.

When shipping a 9in x 6in x 2in 8lbs package from Connecticut to Hong Kong.

  • USPS:USPS Priority Mail International: $86.45 in 8 days
  • UPS :UPS Worldwide Expedited: $210.05 within 2-5 days
  • FedEx :FedEx International Economy: $212.95 within 4-6 days
  • DHL:DHL Express Worldwide: $83. 30

When Shipping Discounts Apply

Getting shipping discounts from courier companies can be a game-changer for your eCommerce business, as they can help you reduce your shipping cost per package. Shipping carriers will discount your rates depending on the volume of packages you send. The more you ship, the better your rates become.

Another great way to get discounted shipping rates is to access the major carriers through a 3PL company like Easyship. You'll always get better rates when using the services of a third-party courier as compared to trying to negotiate directly with the courier companies.

3PL companies tend to get huge shipping discounts because of the large number of packages they send to these couriers. Then, they pass down the benefits to their partners by offering them discounted rates. It’s a win-win.

Find Out the Cheapest Way to Send a Package with Easyship

Easyship is the top shipping and logistics company working with a network of over 250 couriers worldwide. This has put us in a position to negotiate some of the best shipping discounts with leading couriers and we can help you reduce your shipping expenses by up to 70%!

Besides, we offer you other shipping tools to help streamline your shipping experience and delight your buyers. They include:

  • Shipping Rate Calculator: You can use our shipping rate calculator to compare shipping rates from different carriers.
  • Comparison Tool: With our courier comparison tool, you can compare the different shipping services offered by each courier, allowing you to choose your cheapest way to ship based on other factors, not just the cost.
  • Insurance: To help keep your packages safe in transit, Easyship offers you insurance up to $5000
  • Tracking: From custom-branded tracking emails to automatic message alerts, Easyship helps you maintain package visibility with your buyers throughout the delivery process.

Sign up for a free Easyship account today!


If you're looking for more cheap shipping options, check out the following guides: