Managing low-cost shipments can be a challenge for online retailers, particularly small ones. Customers are looking for free shipping, while shipping costs for the e-retailer just keep going up. For some businesses, the services offered by a mail integrator work well to keep shipping costs in check while still providing reliable service to customers.
UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost are the most well-known mail integrating systems. These delivery services both use their respective extensive networks, but transfer the package to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for the last mile of delivery. UPS and FedEx focus on what they are efficient at — sorting and transporting long distances, and the USPS takes advantage of the fact that it is delivering to that residential address anyway. Both SurePost and SmartPost are available to businesses that ship 50+ parcels per week.
Many companies find the advantages of a consolidated delivery service have a positive impact on their shipping operations:
Reduced Shipping Costs: Pricing for these services is lower than for regular ground service. UPS and FedEx are delivering packages to one central location (a USPS branch), which will be making the actual delivery to the customer. This cuts down on the number of stops needed by UPS or FedEx. Keep in mind, however, that delivery is slower than ground service, usually by one day.
Saturday Delivery Included: UPS and FedEx usually charge an extra fee to deliver on Saturdays; however the USPS already delivers on that day, so your package might even show up earlier than expected at no extra cost.
Regular Pickup: SurePost and SmartPost parcels can be mixed with your regular daily pickup, yet there is no surcharge for residential delivery.
Increased Weekly Spend: Negotiated rates are based on average weekly spending. Moving these shipments from another carrier to either SurePost or SmartPost could reduce your shipping spend overall.
What to Ship
What types of shipments are the best candidates for consolidated delivery services? Packages that do not qualify for USPS First Class Mail or Flat Rate Priority are good candidates for either SurePost or SmartPost. Shipments that are between 2 and 10 lbs. and do not fit in a USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope will usually have lower shipping rates with SurePost or SmartPost. However, retailers must decide if the reduced rates outweigh a slightly longer delivery window, which could affect their customer’s experience.
Services like SurePost and SmartPost can give substantial savings to some ecommerce shippers because residential delivery and Saturday delivery charges are eliminated. These services work best for packages that do not need to arrive to the customer as quickly as possible, so for some e-retailers they represent the perfect balance of price and speed.