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Unveiling the Best Shipping Solutions for Optimal Business Efficiency in the US

Embarking on the journey of shipping your products to customers is a crucial aspect of running an online store, and choosing the right shipping carrier will significantly impact your business. In this comprehensive guide, we aim to enlighten you on the nuances of various US shipping carriers, providing invaluable insights for online store owners in the quest for the perfect shipping partner(s).
Nov 16, 2023
Navigating through the maze of options, we delve into the comparisons of prominent carriers such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL US, LSO, GLS, OnTrac, and Pitney Bowes. Each carrier comes with its unique set of features, strengths, and limitations, making it essential to align your preferences and priorities with the carrier(s) that best suits your business needs. It's worth noting, however, that Pitney Bowes may be undergoing changes in its shipping business, so do your homework, when considering it as an option.

Join us as we unravel the diverse landscape of shipping carriers, providing you with a roadmap to streamline your shipping processes and enhance the overall experience for both you and your customers. Your choice of a shipping partner(s) is more than a logistical decision; it's a strategic move that can elevate your online store to new heights.
1. Package weight and size
Ultralight (<2lb)
  • LSO: Ideal for lightweight shipments with a focus on regional efficiency.
  • USPS: A reliable choice for small to medium-sized parcels with nationwide coverage.
  • DHL: Known for international shipping, DHL only handles lightweight packages in the US. It's worth noting that engaging with DHL domestically is most economically viable when dealing with substantial shipping volumes.
  • FedEx Economy: A cost-effective solution for lightweight shipments.
  • UPS SurePost: Combining the strength of UPS with the efficiency of USPS for lightweight packages.
  • Pitney Bowes: Offers shipping solutions for businesses, including lightweight parcel services.
  • While FedEx Ground and UPS Ground are viable options for handling lightweight packages as well, it's important to note that their shipping rates may not be as enticing as other alternatives. However, what you might sacrifice in cost-effectiveness, you gain in speed compared to DHL, USPS and Pitney Bowes.
Lightweight + Midweight (2-50lb)
  • OnTrac: Specializing in regional deliveries, OnTrac efficiently manages smaller to mid-sized packages. The maximum weight may vary based on the specific service.
  • GLS: With weight capacities varying by country, GLS is a go-to for handling parcels of moderate weight.
  • FedEx Ground: Excels in handling midweight shipments, still accommodates a wide weight range.
  • UPS Ground: Well-equipped to handle midweight shipments, UPS Ground provides a comprehensive solution for businesses.
Heavyweight (>50lb)
  • UPS: A heavyweight player, catering to a wide range of package sizes and weights.
  • FedEx: Known for handling heavy shipments, FedEx ensures reliable delivery for larger and weightier packages.
2. Geography
Nationwide shipping certainly has a power-packed lineup. When it comes to reaching every corner of the country, these carriers are the go-to choices:
  • UPS
  • USPS
  • FedEx
  • DHL - Ecom

  • In 2021, LaserShip acquired OnTrac to expand its network. Today, LaserShip serves 22 states in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., plus Washington, D.C., while OnTrac delivers to every address in California and the major metropolitan areas of seven other Western states.
  • Southern U.S. Focus: Primarily operates in the southern United States.
  • Key Coverage: States in the southern region, including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida.
  • Provide Parcel and Freight delivery services throughout the West.
  • Covers the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah.
Pitney Bowes:
  • In the US, Pitney Bowes extends its operational reach across diverse states, fostering a comprehensive presence in Washington (WA), California (CA), Nevada (NV), Utah (UT), Arizona (AZ), Colorado (CO), Texas (TX), Nebraska (NE), Iowa (IA), Missouri (MO), Minnesota (MN), Wisconsin (WI), Illinois (IL), Michigan (MI), Indiana (IND), Ohio (OH), Tennessee (TN), Georgia (GA), South Carolina (SC), Florida (FL), Virginia (VA), Pennsylvania (PA), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Connecticut (CT), and North Carolina (NC). This expansive footprint allows us to cater to the needs of businesses and communities in these dynamic regions, delivering a spectrum of services and solutions.
3. Minimum Volumes
When you're in the game of shipping 200-300 parcels daily, shipping carriers are ready to roll. It's a sweet spot that has every carrier nodding in agreement.

Volume Giants:
UPS, USPS, FedEx, Pitney Bowes typically do not have specific parcel volume restrictions for shippers in terms of the number of parcels they can send.
DHL- Ecom: DHL has specific weight and size limits for parcels, and they require consolidated volumes for the first mile to proceed.

Middle players:
LSO, GLS, OnTrac: Directly get in touch with LSO, GLS, and OnTrac to explore and discuss volume restrictions, as these limits are adaptable.
4. Delivery Speed
  • Ground Service: Typically 1-5 business days depending on the distance.
  • Next Day Air: Next business day delivery by 10:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., or end of day.
  • 2nd Day Air: Delivery in 2 business days by the end of the day.
  • First-Class Mail: 1-3 business days.
  • Priority Mail: 1-3 business days.
  • Priority Mail Express: Overnight to 2 days.
  • Ground: 1-5 business days within the U.S.
  • Standard Overnight: Next-business-day delivery by 3 p.m. to most U.S. addresses.
  • 2Day: Delivery in 2 business days by 4:30 p.m.
  • Express Worldwide: Typically 1-4 business days for international shipments.
  • Express 9:00: Delivery by 9:00 a.m. next possible business day.
  • Express 12:00: Delivery by 12:00 p.m. next possible business day.
  • Specializing in regional deliveries, OnTrac often provides next-day delivery within its service areas.
  • Delivery times vary by state, but GLS typically aims for next-business-day delivery within its service areas.
  • Focused on regional deliveries in the southern U.S., LSO often offers next-day delivery within its service regions.
Pitney Bowes:
  • Pitney Bowes often partners with other shipping carriers to provide shipping and mailing solutions for businesses. The delivery speed would depend on the specific carrier and service level chosen by the customer through Pitney Bowes.
FedEx Economy and UPS SurePost:
  • Both are economical shipping options but are known for having a longer delivery time compared to standard FedEx or UPS services. Typically, the delivery speed for FedEx Economy and UPS SurePost is in the range of 2 to 7 business days.
5. Pickup locations
UPS (United Parcel Service):
  • Beyond its extensive delivery network, UPS enhances customer convenience with UPS Access Points. These points serve as accessible hubs for parcel drop-off and pickup, strategically located at retail spots. This means you can seamlessly manage your shipments without the constraints of traditional delivery timelines. UPS says it currently operates more than 16,000 Access Points in the United States (including Michaels, CVS and Advance Auto Parts).
  • FedEx, a stalwart in the shipping industry, offers a range of options for parcel management. For added flexibility, FedEx may deliver or pick up your packages at a nearby secure location for pickup, such as your local FedEx Office Print & Ship Center (1,860 locations), Walgreens store (8,279 locations) or Dollar General store (9,579 locations). Overall, there are ~22,000 FedEx locations in the United States.
  • GLS has been expanding its network, and in some regions, it partners with locker systems to provide additional pickup options.

When shipping within the Metropolitan Areas, explore top-notch delivery alternative and technology solutions like Luxer One, Parcel Pending, and Via.Delivery. These reliable platforms offer secure lockers, with Via. Delivery standing out as a premier technology enabler of convenient BOPA (Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store) locations for hassle-free parcel pickups.

In wrapping up our exploration of carrier choices, the key takeaway is to carefully select the carrier (s) that aligns with your unique criteria, taking into account your individual shipping profile. For those fortunate enough to manage substantial shipping volumes, consider the strategic move of diversifying carriers. This proactive approach not only allows for a comprehensive analysis of the optimal options but also serves as a risk-mitigation strategy. On the flip side, if your shipping volumes are relatively modest, opting for diversification might introduce unnecessary complexities. Wishing you smooth sailing in your shipping endeavors!
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