Last week, we went over some of the ways you can save money with your shipping carriers. Now we’re back to give you a few more tips to help you save as much money on shipping this holiday season.
In addition to savings you can receive on First-Class Mail and Priority Mail, you might want to consider sending your shipments using other shipping methods, to save money.
Regional Rate Priority Mail
While Priority Mail offers great savings, Regional Rate Priority Mail can offer even steeper savings.
The term “regional” means, in this instance, that the rate you pay depends on the region (or zone) where you’re sending your package. However, you can use the regional boxes anywhere within the United States. At this time, Regional Rate Box A is the overall lowest-cost USPS option for packages between 2 and 15 pounds, for short or long distances.
Pricing for Regional Rate Priority Mail is based on 9 zones. The rates are based on the distance from the original package location to the delivery destination. The best savings occur using Regional Rate Priority Mail for packages traveling short distances. In addition, Regional Rate Boxes work well for small, bulky packages that could otherwise be very expensive to ship, such as shoes and other clothing items.
To determine the zone from your shipping location to the shipping destination, you can use the USPS’s zone tool.
Only USPS-produced Regional Rate Boxes qualify for Regional Rate pricing. Shippers cannot use their own boxes and receive the discounted pricing that the mail class provides. Also, Regional Rate boxes cannot exceed the maximum weight limit for the box type. If the box exceeds the maximum weight limit, regular Priority Mail weight and zone prices will be apply to the entire shipment. There are currently five sizes and maximum weights of Regional Rate boxes.
Additional Savings on Regional Rate Priority Mail: Priority Mail Regional Rate Box postage is available at a discount for online postage customers. If a shipping label is purchased at the post office, a $0.75 fee will be added to the cost of shipping.
Media Mail is a USPS mail class restricted to the delivery of books, film, audio and other recorded media. It is also known as “Book Rate” among book sellers.
Generally, Media Mail is the cheapest USPS mail class for shipping heavy items up to 70 lbs. However if you’re shipping packages that weigh 6 ounces or less, First-Class Package Service offers the lowest cost along with delivery in 2 to 3 days. First-Class Package Service also includes free tracking, which you must pay for separately with Media Mall shipments. You can find a comparison chart on Stamps.com’s website here.
While Media Mail is a very inexpensive option, there are several shipping challenges you need to consider:
- Delivery time is 2-9 days, with no guarantee
- All packages sent using Media Mail are eligible to be opened by a USPS employee to confirm contents. Any package found with material ineligible for Media Mail rates will be sent back to the sender with a possible fine and other postal charges included. (Marketing material, even something as seemingly innocuous as a business card, can disqualify packages, so be really careful when sending a package this way.)
So if you are sending books and other media items to a customer that is in no hurry to receive them, Media Mail is a good shipping option.
Hybrid Services – UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost
SurePost and SmartPost are a hybrid between UPS and USPS, and FedEx and USPS, respectively. Specifically, FedEx or UPS picks up the shipper’s package and eventually hands it off to a USPS sorting facility for final delivery to the customer. Delivery times will be longer, but the money you save may be worth the trade-off.
Here are a few more positives about using hybrid services:
- Saturday delivery: Since USPS handles the final delivery, packages are delivered on Saturdays at no extra cost.
- Ship to all addresses: USPS will deliver to PO boxes. FedEx and UPS normally would not.
- Tracking is available: You and your customer can track the package as you normally would a typical UPS / FedEx shipment.
- No residential surcharge: UPS and FedEx shipments delivered to a residence are subject to a surcharge of $2.90 and up, which is waived with SurePost and SmartPost. However, fuel surcharges (8.5% for UPS and 7.5% for FedEx) still apply with SurePost and SmartPost.
You can find the rates for FedEx SmartPost here. Hybrid services are available by contract only, so you’ll need to talk to your shipping carrier about these options.
Even if you don’t do a lot of shipping, it may be worth it for you to look into shipping consolidators. These companies, like Asendia, Globegistics, and even services from larger carriers like UPS Mail Innovations, can offer better rates than what you get by using the “standard” services from carriers. These options can be a great way to get deeply discounted rates on postage without having to ship a large volume of packages yourself. There are many companies out there with their own strengths, weaknesses, and requirements, so this option may be a bit more time-intensive to attain savings versus the options listed above. However, if you do your due diligence in finding the right consolidator for your business, it can lead to fantastic savings.
Check to see if your eCommerce platform and shipping software can incorporate these options to give accurate quotes to your customers. Shipping software, like us, can help automate which packages to ship using these methods, based on carrier requirements or your own preference. This will make it easier when it comes time for creating your labels each day if you decide to move forward with these less expensive options.