How to Choose the Right Shipping Carrier

FedEx, UPS, and USPS. They are three of the most used shipping carriers worldwide, and odds are you’re shipping with at least one of them currently. Your e-commerce business may be shipping out many products, but do you know if you’re using the best option for your business?

No shipping carrier is the same. There are differences in each that distinguish them from one another. Depending on the quantity and type of products that your business is sending out, some carriers prove to be more economical.

So how can you figure out which is best for your e-commerce business? There are a lot of different factors to consider.

  1. Your Product(s)
  2. Size
  3. Budget
  4. Tracking
  5. Reliability
  6. Destinations


FedEx is a premium shipping carrier that offers varied services to shippers. This can range from air/ocean freight, extra care handling, and many more.

In terms of rates, FedEx is slightly more cost-effective than its opposing premium shipping carrier, UPS. If your business ships objects heavier than 3 pounds, it may well be worth it to use FedEx to have the reliability and versatility of a premium shipping carrier.


The majority of e-commerce businesses ship with UPS. Similar to FedEx, they offer a wide variety of services that range from Worldwide Express Freight to same day delivery.

Between the three of these carriers, UPS has the highest rates – yet as products increase in bulk, the more economical your shipping will become. If you are shipping large products with value attached to them, the prices for UPS bulk delivery prove to be the most cost-effective among all of these carriers.


There’s nothing like the good old-fashioned US Postal Service. And, at prices of first-class mail starting at just below $0.40, it is very highly agreed that USPS is the best carrier for businesses looking to save the most money.

If your company is shipping small, inexpensive parcels – it would be most economical to ship with USPS as opposed to FedEx or UPS. 

Premium Shipping Carriers vs. USPS

While USPS is ultimately the most cost-effective with unbeatable prices, it is not the perfect solution for every business. Tracking is its biggest downfall. Unless you plan to pay for explicit overnight delivery, your parcel does not have any guaranteed delivery date and there is no sure way of determining when it will actually arrive to the doorsteps of your customers.

Tracking for UPS and FedEx are incredibly high-tech. Even the amount of time that the driver is outside of the truck is recorded. Reliability is one of the biggest reasons that companies choose these carriers.

However, just like any carrier – on time deliveries are not always guaranteed. An often unmentioned yet highly important guarantee that both of these carriers claim are 100% refunds on products that are lost, damaged, or late (even by 60 seconds).

Many businesses believe there is nothing that can be done about inevitable late deliveries, yet this mindset led to about $2 billion of unclaimed refunds every year. There are third-party services and steps that your business can follow to start claiming refunds from FedEx and UPS to put back into your bottom line.

Shipping Carrier Cheat-Sheet

If your business is shipping smaller and inexpensive goods – a great choice is USPS.

For companies with a larger and greater volume of goods, the better fit would be either UPS or FedEx.

There are actually many companies that ship with two, if not all of these carriers. Some ship primarily with FedEx or UPS, yet save money by using USPS if a particular package is smaller or not as important. Likewise, many businesses use UPS for bulky ground/freight shipments and FedEx for overnight, or high-priority yet small products. 

Overall, it is important to choose the carrier(s) that are the best fit to your business and its unique needs. This is the first step in optimizing your shipping spend and management.

This blog post was written by Christine Ridgely, Partner Manager at 71 lbs, an partner.

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