What’s The Best Way To Ship?

Other than local courier services, you can use Freight Services, Airlines, and Common Carriers to ship a package.

Generally you’d use a local courier service to get something cross town quickly; and an airline to get something cross country quickly…

Freight services are generally for large shipments where time isn’t critical.  And often trying to ship anything small with them will result in exurbanite charges; plus will require you to palatalize the shipment and cause additional handling fees if loading docks aren’t present at the shipping and receiving points.

For most people when they ship an item it’s via a common carrier, The United States Postal Service (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), Federal Express (FedEx), or DHL (DHL acquired Airborne Express several years ago).

Which is the least expensive?

Well… it depends on what you’re shipping, to where, and how fast you want it there.

And just because one service looks right for what you’re shipping today, it might fall short or cost more tomorrow.

Things you need to keep in mind are the charges are generally based on:

  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Contents (surcharges for some items)
  • Destination (distance)
  • Class of service (ground, air, etc)

So, a light item in a huge box going cross country that needs to be there tomorrow is going to be expensive!

Also, you should be aware that many couriers are charging surcharges for:

  • Fuel
  • Rural Delivery
  • Signature
  • Insurance
  • Pickup (verses drop off)

Also, mail handling agents often charge a surcharge; which is ridiculous, since they charge you the published rate plus their surcharge when in fact they pay much less than the published rate!  Also remember that the shipper is responsible for filing any and all claims, so if you use a mail handling agent they will have to handle the claim.

So when you compare costs, you need to consider those items as well.

One other thing you want to consider is what’s convenient for you, and what’s convenient for the receiver — particularly if they are going to have to pick the package up after a failed delivery attempt.

While most people over look USPS when shipping, the Flat-Rate Priority Mail envelop can be an incredible value.  You get free delivery confirmation by printing a label online (you don’t have to do online postage, but it’s flat rate, so easy to calculate).  You can add insurance as well… it generally only takes a few days to arrive (faster cross country than any other carriers ground service).  And remember, as long as you can close the package, you can ship anything that fits in it for a low price — it’s particularly great for small heavy items.

Originally posted 2008-05-13 13:24:39.