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Pros and cons of using the U.S. Postal Service to ship small parcels

Pros and cons of using the United States Postal Service to ship small parcels

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has stood the test of time. Long before FedEx and UPS existed, the U.S. Postal Service was the only way to receive mail. Although it’s been labeled inefficient and outdated in the past, the last few years the USPS has improved dramatically. Here are a few pros and cons to consider when creating your carrier mix.

Pros of using USPS to ship goods

Cheaper rates for small packages

The unpredictable rise of accessorials is causing some shippers to flock to USPS. USPS doesn’t tack on any surprising fees to your package and charges flat rates for Priority Mail shipments. That means if you can fit it into the box, they’ll ship it any distance for you. No extra fuel surcharges or extended delivery fees to worry about.

USPS also offers free packaging. You can order free boxes and envelopes online at the USPS store or directly from your local Post Office.  As shipping costs continue to rise, receiving free packaging is a definite perk.

If you are shipping small and lightweight goods, USPS could easily be a top choice. For shippers that need to send items under 2 pounds, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is one of the cheapest options on the market. If your product fits in Priority Mail packaging, you can save on average $2 per parcel compared to FedEx and UPS rates.

Free Saturday delivery

Unlike FedEx and UPS, USPS has delivered mail and packages six days a week for years. There are no fees associated with receiving a package on Saturday.

UPS and FedEx often introduce the same services around similar times to remain competitive. UPS recently introduced Saturday delivery to customers in specific areas. UPS Air and International Services incur a $16.00 fee and UPS Worldwide Express Freight incurs a $200.00 fee for Saturday delivery. If you choose to use UPS Ground, eligible packages that were previously delivered on Monday can be delivered on Saturday, at no additional cost. FedEx delivers packages on Saturday to residential addresses through its FedEx Home Delivery® service, at no extra cost as well.

Delivers to remote areas

The USPS delivery system is complex and extensive. Because the USPS routinely delivers across the country, it excels in getting packages to those extended delivery destinations. They go to every house, every day.

UPS and FedEx, on the other hand, do not follow this same pattern. Amazon, FedEx, and UPS have all tapped into the USPS network to deliver packages through UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost. And, because mailboxes are government property, USPS is the only carrier allowed to deliver to mailboxes and P.O. boxes instead of to doorsteps.

Related: Why last-mile delivery is a big deal

Cons of using USPS to ship goods

Large packages

USPS is not designed to ship large items or volume shipments. Contents must not weigh more than 70 pounds. In most cases, the maximum combined length and girth (distance around the thickest part) is 108 inches. If larger, you’ll need to take it to a U.S. Post Office and ship with USPS Retail Ground service.

Tracking issues

USPS is working diligently to improve their technology and operations. Still, their tracking abilities are known to lag behind the other major carriers that are not government owned. There’s a possibility the tracking issues won’t be a “con” for long as they work to finetune Informed Delivery®, an app that allows shippers to view incoming mail and track incoming packages anytime, and Intelligent Mail®, a system that uses information-rich barcodes and electronic documentation to provide better services. Still, FedEx and UPS, track packages on a vehicle level, so that customers can stay updated until delivery.

Longer transit times

If time is on your side, this might not be such a serious issue. In fact, some customers will opt to receive a package a few days later in order to save money on shipping. In 2017, Recode reported that Amazon blamed USPS for Amazon Fresh delivery challenges. Amazon officials informed food brands that the Postal Service had too many late or missed deliveries leaving customers with an unreliable experience. When time is of the essence, UPSP might not meet your delivery expectations.

Understand your business needs

The best route to take when selecting a carrier is to first understand your business needs and what your customers’ expect. Share a Refund analyzes shipping profiles, compares data to industry averages and provides options for additional savings. Get another pair of eyes on your carrier contract today.

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