Key Points:

  • Shipping zones make the shipping process faster for both the courier company and the customer
  • The biggest impact of shipping zones on fulfillment is on cost
  • Fulfillment centers strategically placed on the path of your package can help you cut costs and transit times

Shipping zones are an important part of shipping and fulfillment. Understanding how zones are mapped out can be a little confusing, but getting a handle on this can help you ship better. Knowing how these zones work will help your business save on shipping costs and improve delivery times. Properly using these zones means you can offer your customers fast and cheap shipping solutions.

A shipping zone map tells you how far your package has to travel. Since your shipping cost is based on that, knowing this will help you create good shipping strategies and find the best courier solutions. Each courier company will have its own rates; you just need to understand how to use this to your benefit.

To help you figure it out, we’re going to explore what these shipping zones are, how they’re used by couriers, and how they affect costs and delivery time. Then, we’ll show you how to slash your fulfillment costs.

Table of Contents

What Are Shipping Zones?

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to shipping, especially when you want to offer fast and affordable services. That’s why many couriers divide countries and the globe into different zones. For example, there are eight zones in the US. Having a shipping zone map makes it easier for courier companies to assign a standard price for each shipment, depending on the origin and destination zones.

Shipping zones

Shipping zones make the shipping process faster for both the courier company and the customer. Many small eCommerce businesses deal with courier companies directly as using fulfillment centers is not an affordable option for them - they don’t have the shipment volume to make it sustainable. By understanding how the company uses these zones and their costs, you can get cheaper shipping rates for your packages.

Shipping Zones by Couriers

Each courier company will have its own way of doing things and operate these slightly differently. However, in general, the cost for these will depend on the point of origin and the destination of your package.

Different zones are assigned different rates. To get an accurate rate for your shipment, you have to figure out which shipping zone you fall into. Each courier company lists international destinations according to its respective policies on its website. So, you can find your rate by just entering the origin and destination zip code.

USPS Shipping Zones

USPS shipping zone prices are based on the mail class you want to use and where you want to send your package. USPS ships to more than 190 international destinations through its Priority Mail International service. They have a multi-tier pricing system based on the destination and the mail class being used. For example, the price group for Aruba is 7 if you use Global Express Guaranteed, but if you use Priority Mail Express International, the price group will be 9.

UPS Shipping Zones

UPS ships to over 220 countries around the world. To get your shipping rates with UPS, you have to first find the UPS shipping zone that you fall into. To find the relevant zones, you will have to enter your zip code on the UPS website.

FedEx Shipping Zones

FedEx shipping zones are marked the same way as UPS shipping zones. You have to use the destination zip code to get a quote. The zone locator is a PDF that holds all the relevant details.

This will help you find the correct shipping rate for your package. These rates are applicable for both FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Economy services, but you may also have to pay surcharges for fuel and other extra services.

How Do Shipping Zones Affect Fulfillment?

Order fulfillment depends on various things. The courier company you use, the package handling services you hire, and the distance package has to travel all affect the process of fulfillment.


The biggest impact of shipping zones on fulfillment is on cost. The shipping rate for your package depends on the shipping zone it travels in. On top of this, different zones can have different rates depending on what mail class is used. Certain mail classes are available for some zones but not in others. This, along with the weight and dimensions of the package, affects the cost of the shipment

Delivery Speed

Another very important aspect of shipping is delivery speed. The distance the package has to travel is directly proportional to the speed of delivery. If a package is being sent to a nearby zone, then you can expect fast delivery; the further the zone, the longer the delivery time.

Transit time

The transit time is the time a package spends en route to its destination. This time is difficult for the package - it can be easily lost or damaged at this stage. The less time your package spends in transit, the higher the chance that it will be delivered safely. Destinations are carefully identified, reducing the transit time.

Shipping Costs

Zones make it easier for you to calculate shipping costs. The zones are an organized approach for assigning shipping costs to different destinations and mail classes.

Fulfillment process

These zones also facilitate the fulfillment process by automating a lot of tricky issues for the courier company. Understanding the destination, mail class, and cost assigned to a package instantly solves a lot of issues. There is no confusion for the courier company and that makes this process clear, fast, and easy.

3 Strategies to Effectively Reduce Shipping Cost

Shipping costs can be reduced by understanding shipping zones. But the question is how can you reduce the zones when you have to reach a certain destination? For example, a package sent to zone 2 will be delivered faster than one sent to zone 8. So, you should make small hops across the shipping zone map to reach your destination.

For example, if you are shipping to zone 8, your package has to pass zones 2, 4, and 6. You should first send your package to zone 2, which will be quick. Then, send it from 2 to 4, from 4 to 6, and finally from 6 to 8. This way you will not only cut the transit time but also the shipping cost.

However, for this, you will need package handling and fulfillment centers along the path. So, let’s have a look at some strategies that can cut shipping costs:

1. More Fulfillment Centers

Fulfillment centers strategically placed on the path of your package can help you cut costs and transit times. So, the more fulfillment centers you have, the more options you have, especially in an area where you have more customer density.

2. Use a 3PL Company

A 3PL company can sort out a lot of issues in the fulfillment process. They have geographic logistics support and can help your shipment by reducing transit time and cost. A good 3PL company can help you automate your fulfillment process, too. Easyship’s shipment management software and worldwide warehousing can help you with this process.

3. Offer Free Shipping

Offering free shipping is another strategy eCommerce businesses use to increase customer volume. Different strategies like adding the shipping cost to the product price, offering free shipping when they spend a certain amount, free shipping for products of a certain weight, and offering free shipping to the nearest zone can hold the interest of the customer.

Figure Out Zoning to Ship Better with Easyship

Shipping zones allow couriers such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx to map and assign numbers to geographic locations around the world or within large countries. This helps them with identification and ease of reference with packages. International shipping requires a lot of work and is confusing as the package has to travel a longer distance and requires more time.

Understanding these shipping zones is very important for eCommerce businesses as they can cut their shipping cost a lot and save time. You can then offer customers cheaper shipping rates and faster shipping. You can even offer free shipping for certain zones.

Easyship offers competitive rates, better fulfillment handling, and better management. With Easyship, you'll gain instant access to tools and features such as the following:

  • Duties & Taxes Visibility: Easyship works out all duties and taxes for your international shipments to handle your international orders with ease. Calculate your duties for overseas shipments here
  • Global Fulfillment: Easyship has warehouse partners on four continents to reach customers worldwide. Plus, Easyship helps scale up fulfillment capabilities without increasing overhead costs
  • 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

You can sign up for free and access more than 250+ shipping solutions that we have.

*This post was updated July 26, 2020 to reflect new information.