ECommerce businesses have many different shipping options. FedEx Ground is one of the most popular and best- known eCommerce shipping choices. However, there are many other ways to ship your orders. This includes other FedEx options and services from UPS and the US Postal Service.
For the purposes of this article, we compared published rates for shipping a 12x12x12 box that weighs 10 pounds from Los Angeles to New York City.
Here’s what you need to know to choose FedEx Ground or another service for your eCommerce shipping.
Prior to 2000, FedEx was mainly an express delivery service. With the introduction of FedEx Ground, the company entered competition for the package delivery that had previously been dominated by UPS and the USPS. FedEx Ground quickly became a dominant force as a low-cost ground delivery shipping option.
What is FedEx Ground?
FedEx Ground is a shipping service that accepts packages of up to 150 pounds and up to 108” long and a limit of 165” length plus girth (L+2W+2H). You can use FedEx Ground to ship to addresses in all 50 states. The carrier network utilizes contractors who drive their own vehicles, in addition to FedEx delivery trucks and drivers.
If you send a lot of packages via FedEx, you can schedule a daily pickup at your office or warehouse.
How does FedEx Ground work?
FedEx Home Delivery uses the FedEx Ground network to deliver to residential addresses. FedEx Ground delivers packages to business addresses by end of day, Monday through Friday. This service doesn’t deliver to USPS PO boxes. You can track your packages and your customers can use a tracking number to follow the progress of their order delivery.
You can make a one-time shipment with FedEx Ground. If you’re a high-volume shipper, you may be able to set up an account with FedEx and get discounted rates.
How long does FedEx Ground take?
Delivery time for FedEx Ground depends on how far you ship your package. The range is one to five business days in the contiguous 48 states and three to seven business days for Alaska and Hawaii.
Our package going from Los Angeles to New York City would take four business days and cost $38.90.
FedEx Ground Economy (Formerly FedEx SmartPost)
FedEx SmartPost is now known as FedEx Ground Economy. FedEx Ground Economy is the low cost option for lightweight packages that are not rush deliveries.
What is FedEx Ground Economy?
Like FedEx Ground, Ground Economy delivers to all US states and territories. However, even though Ground Economy will deliver outside the contiguous 48 states, the service won’t pick up packages in Alaska, Hawaii, or the US territories.
How does FedEx Ground Economy work?
If you want to use FedEx Ground Economy, you need to have a contract with FedEx. You can’t ship a one-off package. Because the USPS makes the final deliveries, Ground Economy packages can go everywhere the Postal Service goes — which is every US address. The size limits for Ground Economy are 70 pounds and 130” length plus girth (L+2W+2H).
Ground Economy offers delivery six days a week, Monday through Saturday. You can use this service to send packages to PO boxes.
How long does FedEx Ground Economy take?
FedEx Ground Economy delivers to most US addresses in two to seven days. Outside the 48 contiguous states, shipping may take longer.
Our package shipping from Los Angeles to New York City could take up to seven days and would cost $27.50.
Is FedEx Ground Economy the same as FedEx SmartPost?
FedEx Ground Economy is the new name for FedEx SmartPost but is the same service. Some older labels may still say FedEx SmartPost, and some retailers may print or preprint labels with this name but they are interchangeable and will still work.
FedEx Home Delivery
FedEx Home Delivery is part of the FedEx Ground network that delivers to residential addresses. Like FedEx Ground, this service relies on contractors as well as FedEx drivers. It offers delivery in all 50 states.
What is FedEx Home Delivery?
FedEx Home Delivery accepts the same size packages as FedEx Ground: up to 150 pounds and up to 108” long and a limit of 165” length plus girth (L+2W+2H). This service doesn’t deliver to PO boxes. In addition, it can’t transport most hazardous materials.
How does FedEx Home Delivery work?
FedEx Home Delivery offers several different delivery options. With Date Certain Home Delivery, you can get same-day delivery within a metro area or across the country. This service also offers options with longer delivery windows, including ground service, with arrival guaranteed on a scheduled date. Evening Home Delivery delivers packages after work hours, when people can be home to receive them. And Appointment Home Delivery gives a delivery window for recipients. Not all services are available in all areas.
FedEx Ground picks up outgoing packages for home delivery on weekdays.
How long does FedEx Home Delivery take?
FedEx Home Delivery now offers Saturday and Sunday delivery as a standard service to residential addresses, so that can shorten your delivery time. Weekend deliveries aren’t available to all addresses. If you use FedEx Ground, delivery time is estimated at between one and seven days.
Using ground delivery, our package going from Los Angeles to New York City would take four days and cost $38.90. For the fastest option, same-day delivery across the country, you need to open a FedEx account to get a price quote.
The United Parcel Service (UPS) delivers packages with its distinctive brown trucks and drivers in brown uniforms. In addition to ground service, UPS offers overnight and two- and three-day shipping options.
What is UPS Ground?
UPS Ground has the same size limits as FedEx Ground: up to 150 pounds and up to 108” long and a limit of 165” length plus girth (L+2W+2H). UPS offers clear instructions on how to determine your package dimensions. If your items are large for their weight, your package may be subject to dimensional weight pricing. FedEx also adds charges for DIM weight.
How does UPS Ground work?
You don’t need an account to ship by UPS Ground. You can walk into a UPS Store and ship a package. However, if you ship a lot of packages, you can schedule a daily UPS pickup at your location.
UPS Ground offers guaranteed delivery, so you can tell your customers in advance when to expect their orders. UPS Ground also offers cash on delivery, or C.O.D., service. This can be particularly helpful for businesses with B2B sales.
How long does UPS Ground take?
UPS Ground can deliver packages in between one and five days, depending on the distance. The package from Los Angeles to New York City would take four days. New York is in Zone 8 from LA, so the retail cost to ship our 10-pound box would be $29.63.
USPS Priority Mail
The US Postal Service has a requirement that no private carrier does. It must deliver mail and packages to every address in the US, no matter how remote. So USPS Priority Mail delivers everywhere in the US.
What is USPS Priority Mail?
USPS Priority Mail is the package delivery service of the Post Office. Any envelope or box that weighs more than 13 ounces is automatically Priority Mail when you send it through the USPS. You also have the option to ship lighter items via the Priority Mail service.
The maximum weight of you can ship Priority Mail is 70 pounds. The maximum combined length and girth is 108”.
How does USPS Priority Mail work?
USPS Priority Mail sets rates based on weight, distance, and dimensions. You can print a shipping label online and schedule a pickup. With the USPS Click-N-Ship service, you can print Priority Mail postage and labels at home and drop your package in a mailbox or at a post office.
Priority Mail offers one feature that neither FedEx nor UPS does: flat rate shipping. When you use USPS Priority Mail envelopes and boxes, you can ship anything that fits and weighs less than 70 pounds for a set price to any destination. Flat rate boxes can ship for as little as $9.
How long does USPS Priority Mail take?
USPS Priority Mail packages are delivered in one to three days, depending on distance. A package going to New York from Los Angeles would take two days. The cost to ship our 12” x 12” x 12” box without Priority Mail packaging would be $39.55. If we can fit the item into a large flat rate box, the price would be $22.45. However, the large box isn’t the same dimensions, so it probably won’t work.
USPS First Class Mail
USPS First Class Mail is the original letter and package delivery service. Before there was FedEx, before there was UPS, there was the US Postal Service.
What is USPS First Class Mail?
USPS First Class Mail primarily sends letters and large envelopes. You can send parcels via USPS First Class Mail, but only if they weigh under 13 ounces. Anything over that goes by Priority Mail.
You can send First Class Mail to any US address or PO box. First class is the fastest mail delivery service.
How does USPS First Class Mail work?
USPS First Class Mail pricing is based on the weight and shape of an envelope or parcel. To ship by First Class Mail rather than Priority Mail, you need to meet strict dimension requirements. In addition, if you’re shipping in an envelope, it has to be bendable rather than stiff (like a Priority Mail envelope).
The USPS processes First Class Mail by putting it through a machine that stamps the postmark. Some items can’t go through the machine because they are too fragile or are oddly shaped. These need to be hand cancelled (in Post Office terms) and you’ll pay an extra charge for that service.
You can send a package through the mail just by weighing it and sticking on enough stamps to cover the postage. There are lots of ways to get the right postage. You can also get a postage meter that will print out postage.
For pickup, you can leave outgoing mail for your mail carrier, hand a package to a mail carrier you see on their route, or drop First Class Mail into a mailbox or at a post office.
How long does USPS Class Mail take?
Expect USPS First Class Mail to arrive in one to three days, depending on distance. Our hypothetical package going to New York from Los Angeles is too heavy to send by USPS First Class Mail, since it weighs 10 pounds. If it were just 10 ounces, it would take four days. The cost to ship a 10 ounce package by USPS First Class Mail is $8.80, assuming it doesn’t need special services.
FedEx vs UPS
FedEx Ground vs. UPS Ground
Both services would take the same amount of time to deliver our cross-country package. If you are a volume shipper or use an order fulfillment company, you may be able to negotiate better rates with one or both carriers.
The retail cost to ship our hypothetical package was higher with FedEx Ground than UPS Ground: $38.90 vs. $29.63.
The range of services offered by each company is slightly different, so price isn’t the only factor to consider. On one hand, FedEx has more express options than UPS. On the other hand, UPS guarantees delivery time, so it might be more reliable.
FedEx Home Delivery vs. UPS Ground
FedEx Home Delivery has the same delivery time and costs as FedEx Ground, so it’s still more expensive than UPS Ground. Both services deliver on Saturdays; only FedEx has standard Sunday delivery. And, while busy UPS drivers often work into the evenings, only FedEx has pre-arranged evening delivery options.
FedEx vs USPS
FedEx Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail
USPS Priority Mail is twice as fast as FedEx Ground, delivering in two days rather than four. The Postal Service also has the advantage of being able to deliver to PO box addresses.
FedEx Ground is cheaper than USPS Priority Mail: $38.90 vs. $44.55 for the 10 pound package we compared. However, if our hypothetical package could fit into a flat rate USPS Priority Mail box, the Postal Service delivery option might be cheaper.
FedEx Ground Economy vs. FedEx Home Delivery
Ground Economy delivery times may be longer than FedEx Home Delivery. Ground Economy can deliver to PO boxes, which Home Delivery can’t do.
FedEx Ground Economy is a cheaper option than Home Delivery: $27.50 vs. $38.90 for the LA to New York delivery in our comparison.
FedEx Ground vs FedEx Ground Economy
FedEx Ground is in control of FedEx the entire route, while with Ground Economy there is a hand off to USPS for last mile delivery. Ground Economy is perceived to have longer delivery times compared to FedEx Ground. Ground Economy does have the advantage of PO box delivery, however. In addition, FedEx Ground Economy is a cheaper option than FedEx Ground for our hypothetical box: $27.50 vs. $38.90.
UPS vs USPS
UPS Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail
UPS takes four days to deliver cross-country; Priority Mail takes just two. And UPS Ground can’t deliver to PO box addresses. For the 10 pound box in our comparison, UPS Ground is cheaper than USPS Priority Mail: $29.63 vs. $39.55.
USPS Priority Mail vs. USPS First Class Mail
USPS Priority Mail and First Class Mail are similar. Both can reach PO box addresses. Both are brought by mail carriers who will not be stopped by “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night.”
USPS Priority Mail is faster than USPS First Class Mail. The time to send a package across the country was twice as long by First Class Mail as by Priority Mail. The services don’t overlap in terms of weight, although you can ship lighter packages by Priority Mail. For packages under 13 ounces, First Class Mail is generally the less expensive option.
There are pros and cons to all these delivery options. Look into volume discounts with each carrier. Reach out to your eCommerce fulfillment company for help. Then choose the one that best fits your eCommerce shipping needs.
Just a note to add to this great article. Priority Mail is not a guaranteed service. I ship often in my business and it is becoming rarer that the shipping is two or three days. More like 7 to ten depending on where it is going. It has been worse due to Covid but this problem keeps happening. I have contacted them many times and they usually say “ priority is not a guaranteed service”. USPS is still good for mailing and is cost effective using flat rate but time wise “it gets there when it gets there”. Now, there will be a price hike so we will see if it is still a good option. However, I have used all carriers mentioned in this article and would say your choice would depend on location, speed, size of package and cost. I keep a paper by the computer to see which carrier is best for the size and time. Anyway, that’s my two cents.
This article is really helpful, although my item is a large envelope going from one end of NYC to the other. I also appreciate the comment below as a reminder that although you can track it, USPS service is not guaranteed, which I’ve learned from experience.