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A Shopify Merchant’s Shipping Guide

Simplify and Automate Fulfillment with ShipStation

How to Get Rates, Connect Carriers, and Access Shipping Discounts

Shipping can be affordable if you know what to look for. ShipStation offers merchants discounted shipping rates thanks to our close relationship with carriers. In this section, we’ll go over how shipping costs are calculated and how you can find discounts on carrier services. 

How to Calculate Shipping Cost

To ship a parcel, you need to accurately weigh, measure, and apply shipping configurations to a parcel. The hardest part can be choosing the right services. Just because a service looks affordable, doesn’t mean it’s the most affordable. In this section, we’ll go over how to properly calculate shipping costs and determine the best services for different types of orders.

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Weight is a major factor that determines a package’s shipping rate. In order to properly weigh the parcel, you need to wait until it is packaged. You can weigh the parcel at a carrier facility or post office. But buying a postal scale is essential for online businesses. Postal scales are usually very affordable, and unless you’re shipping a very heavy package, most postage scales will work. 


Measurements play into shipping rates along with weights. However, the pricing tiers of most services only use weight. Size just adjusts that cost. For instance, if a package is very large or very small this impacts the shipping cost. If a parcel is small and heavy, it may get cubic pricing. However, if a parcel is very large and light, it may be charged based on its dimensional weight (also known as volumetric weight). This effectively makes the size be calculated as a heavier weight that will increase the cost. 


The third component that determines a shipping rate is the distance a parcel travels between the sender and recipient. While we may think of shipping rates in terms of pure distance between zip code and zip code, carriers rely on something called shipping zones. In the US, there are 9 zones—including territories. This lets you easily determine which service to use. As zones increase, rates increase. Sometimes the zone a shipment is going to means switching from a service like USPS Priority Mail in favor of something like UPS Ground. 

Delivery Speed

Once you have the weight, size, and recipient information figured out for a parcel, you’re ready to select the shipping service. A shipping service generally bases its rates on these parameters:  distance, size, and weight. But now, there is the addition of a fourth element: delivery time. Carrier services generally charge higher rates for express services. And choosing the right one can be difficult since so many carriers offer competing services for standard, express, or next-day services. 

Fees & Surcharges

A common component that goes into a rate—especially post-billing carriers like UPS and FedEx—is additional fees and surcharges. With pay-on-creation carriers like USPS, what you pay at the offset is generally the final cost (unless you have an adjustment afterward). However, with post-billing carriers like UPS or FedEx, these fees may not be charged until you get your monthly carrier invoice. Common surcharges and fees include fuel surcharges, residential surcharges, and extended area surcharges. These can change annually or week-to-week depending on the fee. 

*NOTE: If you want to avoid UPS surcharges and get up to 82% off UPS Daily Rates, UPS from ShipStation offers the same great services at a fraction of the cost. Click the link below to find out more.

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Connecting Carrier Accounts to ShipStation

ShipStation not only has partners with all the selling channels you sell on, but we also connect to the top carriers. Regardless of if you need to start a new carrier account or connect your existing accounts, you can access discounted shipping rates in ShipStation. 

Whether you need to connect USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL Express, FBA, or many other carriers, ShipStation makes the connection process quick and easy. 

How Do I Get Shipping Discounts? 

Shipping discounts are crucial for protecting your ecommerce business’s profit margins. Customers expect free and affordable shipping and ShipStation helps you provide that! With a range of options to either access new rates or bring your own rates and carrier accounts over, you and your customers can both be satisfied. 

Discounted Rates from ShipStation Carrier Services

ShipStation offers customers a simple way to access discounted shipping rates from USPS (through, UPS, and DHL Express rates through a single postage balance you connect to ShipStation. 

USPS Discounts

ShipStation lets you take advantage of USPS discounts on shipments, including First Class, Priority, and Priority Express Mail. More specifically, the discount shipping rates include:

  • Up to 40% off Priority Mail
  • Up to 18% off First Class Mail Package
  • Up to 13% off Priority Mail Express
  • Up to 5% off International First Class, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express
  • Up to 40% off USPS Package Insurance Rates

UPS Discounts

UPS now offers ShipStation users access to ecommerce discounts on domestic and international shipping with UPS. To receive these discounted UPS rates and much more, all you have to do is sign up for ShipStation. Some rate highlights include:

  • Up to 82% off Daily Rates
  • Up to 77% off UPS® Ground shipments
  • Up to 73% off UPS 2nd Day Air®
  • Avoid certain carrier surcharges, such as residential surcharges

DHL Express

ShipStation customers who choose to use DHL Express to ship packages internationally can save up to 60% on DHL Express postage. With ShipStation Carrier Services, which is a single postage purchase payment method, merchants can create a new DHL Express account, save on shipping, and use a single postage balance for labels.

Connect an Existing Carrier Account

ShipStation doesn’t require you to use these carrier solutions. You can also connect an existing carrier account for USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and many more. To find out how to connect your existing carrier account, read our connect a carrier help article

How to Negotiate Discounts 

To access discounts from carriers you typically need to reach a certain shipping volume. For instance, USPS can offer full Cubic rates if you ship over 50,000 parcels per year. However, not every negotiation requires such high thresholds. If you have an account manager with your given carriers, reach out and see if there are any discounts you can take advantage of. 

Multicarrier Leverage for Discounted Rates

A common negotiation tactic for merchants with growing shipping volume is to diversify which carriers you use. For instance, if you predominantly use UPS, use more FedEx options for certain orders. To get you to use their services more, the carrier may begin offering discounts to incentivize their service. Common discounts include things like fuel and residential surcharge discounts or waived fees. Keep in mind that these discounts are usually reserved for high-volume shippers. So, until you can negotiate better rates with carriers, the discounts offered through ShipStation may be your best bet.

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