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USPS Retail Ground vs. Media Mail: What to Know

What's the difference between USPS Retail Ground vs. Media Mail? Read this blog to find out.
USPS Retail Ground vs. Media Mail: What to Know
Alexandra Ortolani

By Alexandra Ortolani

 

April 7, 2022

Key Points:

  • Retail Ground delivers items within 2-8 business days for packages up to 70 pounds
  • Media Mail delivers items within 2-8 business days for packages up to 70 pounds
  • Merchants can save up to 91% off discounted USPS shipping rates

USPS is known for its mix of affordability and express courier services for domestic and international shipments.

Retail Ground and Media Mail are two popular USPS courier services that provide economical solutions for merchants looking to save money. Though you’re looking for express shipping, Priority Mail Express may be better for your business.

USPS Retail Ground vs. Media Mail may share key similarities like delivery lead times but differ in other critical areas like price and item restrictions. This blog highlights and gives a detailed overview of both Retail Ground and Media Mail so you can decide what service works best for your business.

Table of Contents

What is Retail Ground?

Retail Ground is an economical ground shipping service for parcels. This service includes packages, thick envelopes, and tubes up to 70 pounds and includes features like:

  • Delivery in 2-8 business days
  • Real-time tracking

This USPS service is compatible with items that are not required to be mailed at First-Class Package or mail service. The most common uses for this shipping service are for things such as the following:

  • Small and large items
  • General merchandise
  • Books

Retail Ground is best for businesses looking for affordable and economical shipping solutions. Retail Ground is an excellent option for items outside the USPS Media Mail list if you want cheaper shipping.

What is Media Mail?

Media Mail is an affordable way to send media and other educational materials up to 70 pounds, though some restrictions apply. Some of the main highlights of this courier service include features like:

  • Delivery in 2-8 business days
  • Real-time tracking

Unlike other USPS courier services, Media Mail only allows businesses to ship specific items to their destination. With Media Mail, you’re limited to shipping items such as the following:

  • Books
  • 16-millimeter or narrower width films
  • Printed music and test materials
  • Video and sound recordings
  • Playscripts and manuscripts
  • Printed educational reference materials or charts
  • Medical loose-leaf pages and binders

Media Mail is best for businesses that are sending media or educational materials. For any other items outside the listed items for use, USPS offers other affordable and express services for shipments.

What’s the Difference Between Retail Ground vs. Media Mail?

Retail Ground and Media Mail are economical and affordable USPS shipping services for merchants looking to save money. Retail Ground is excellent for items that don’t require quick delivery. On the other hand, Media Mail is great for media items that don’t need express delivery.

USPS Retail Ground vs. Media Mail

First, we’ll highlight the similarities between Retail Ground vs. Media Mail to understand the common traits of these two services.

  • Weight restrictions: Both USPS services impose a 70-pound weight limit for Retail Ground and Media Mail packages
  • Tracking: USPS tracking is included for USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail
  • Delivery Lead Time: USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail have an estimated delivery time of 2 to 8 business days
  • No included insurance: Retail Ground and Media Mail don’t come with included insurance, though you may opt for insurance coverage up to $5,000 for an extra fee
  • No package pickup: Both courier services are not eligible for package pickup
  • Free USPS packaging: USPS offers free packaging supplies for your packages online or at your local post office

Now, let’s break down the difference between Retail Ground vs. Media Mail.

  • Pricing: Retail Ground costs more, and prices start at $8.50, while Media Mail starts at $3.19.
  • Restricted Items: Retail Ground allows you to send most items as long as it’s not restricted or prohibited items. Media Mail only will enable merchants to send media or educational materials

The biggest difference between Retail Ground vs. Media Mail is the price and items allowed for shipment. For example, Retail Ground costs more on average than Media Mail, but you can ship a broader range of items.

Related post: USPS Priority Mail vs. Media Mail

How Much Does Retail Ground vs. Media Mail Cost?

Delivery speed, package weight, package dimensions, and shipping distance are all factors that need to be considered when determining the cost of Retail Ground vs. Media Mail.

We’ll calculate the cost of shipping Retail Ground vs. Media Mail to various locations within the United States so you can get an idea of how much it costs to ship to different parts of the country.

Shipping from New York to Los Angeles

Say you’re shipping a 5-pound package from New York to Los Angeles. We’ll calculate the rates for shipping with Retail Ground and Media Mail so you can understand the price difference between the two services.

Courier Service Retail Cost
Retail Ground $22.80
Media Mail $5.71

Shipping from New York to Chicago

Now, say you’re shipping a 5-pound package from New York to Chicago. We’ll calculate the rates for shipping with Retail Ground and Media Mail so you can understand the price difference for shipping to Chicago.

Courier Service Retail Cost
Retail Ground $13.25
Media Mail $5.71

Shipping from New York to Miami

Say you’re shipping a 5-pound package from New York to Miami. We’ll calculate the rates for shipping with Retail Ground and Media Mail so you can get an idea of the cost of shipping to Miami.

Courier Service Retail Cost
Retail Ground $16.65
Media Mail $5.71

Shipping with Easyship

Merchants can save on retail shipping costs with Easyship for USPS and other major couriers. You’ll save up to 91% off discounted retail shipping rates as seen below.

Courier Service Destination Discount Cost
Parcel Select NY to LA $10.96
Media Mail NY to LA $5.71
Parcel Select NY to Chicago $10.31
Media Mail NY to Chicago $5.71
Parcel Select NY to Miami $12.46
Media Mail NY to Miami $5.71

As we can see, Easyship offers cheaper shipping rates for USPS. Retail Ground may not be an option for the above destinations. However, USPS Parcel Select is faster and delivers in 2-3 business days as compared to Retail Ground's lead time of 2-8 business days.

More specifically, you’ll pay $10.31 for a 5-pound package from NY to Chicago with Easyship’s USPS Parcel Post rates compared to the retail cost of $13.25 for Retail Ground.

USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail also doesn’t come with included insurance. But, Easyship offers up to $10,000 of included insurance for domestic and international shipments.

USPS Retail Ground vs. Media Mail with Easyship

USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail are two of the cheapest ways to ship with USPS. These courier services may be the most affordable options USPS offers, but you’ll have to sacrifice faster delivery times, including insurance and free package pickup.

On the flip side, you can save money on these economical shipping solutions for your business. So if you can afford to offer slower lead times for your business, Retail Ground and Media Mail are suitable options.

Using a shipping platform can make up for not having included shipping insurance, package pickup services, or faster delivery lead times. For example, Easyship offers up to 91% off discounted shipping rates for USPS domestic and international shipments.

With Easyship, you’ll gain access to other key benefits such as the following for your eCommerce business:

  • Shipping Policy Generator: Our shipping policy generator helps merchants and crowdfunding campaigns generate their shipping policy by providing tracking and insurance options
  • Easyship Shipping Rates Calculator: Access high-volume discounts from major couriers. Plus, get instant access to delivery lead times from premium shipping couriers for faster shipping
  • High-Value Shipping Insurance: Easyship offers up to $10,000 shipping insurance for all shipments. This way, customers can have peace of mind when it comes to sending packages

USPS customers can also connect their account to Easyship for instant discounts for services like USPS Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, Parcel Select, First-Class Mail, or Flat Rate envelopes and Flat Rate boxes.

Ready to ship with USPS? Sign up for a FREE Easyship account and get instant access to high-volume discounts for USPS Media Mail and other USPS services


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