Expedited shipping: The ultimate guide to shipping products faster

What is expedited shipping, what does it cost, and should you use it?

What does expedited shipping mean?

When standard shipping speeds aren't fast enough, expedited shipping offers accelerated delivery. There are plusses and minuses to accelerated delivery meaning they may have higher shipping costs but often offers the predictability of delivery-rate guarantees. Depending on the carrier, services such as express shipping, two-day or next-day delivery are some of the expedited shipping alternatives.

There is no “hard and fast” definition for expedited shipping, but it usually means shipping that is faster than usual, although not necessarily the fastest way possible. In other words, expedited shipping means that your package will be delivered to its intended recipient sooner than if it had been sent by standard, lower-cost shipping methods.


What's the difference between expedited and standard shipping?

There are two differences: speed and cost. But different online stores may define standard shipping and expedited shipping differently. Standard shipping is usually the slowest and cheapest delivery option offered. Most stores also offer faster, expedited shipping options for customers who are willing to pay a bit more to receive their purchases quickly.

Is there a difference between expedited and express shipping?

In a word, yes. Express shipping is faster and costs more than expedited shipping. Usually express shipping (which is sometimes called overnight shipping) delivers in one or two days. Expedited shipping takes somewhat longer, usually about two to three days.

Is next day (or two day) shipping considered to be expedited shipping?

These are both relative terms so it might be, depending on the retailer and the shipping options offered. If the retailer’s standard shipping option delivers in three days, then any faster option offered could be considered expedited delivery.

What’s the difference between expedited shipping and same day delivery?

Same day delivery is the fastest possible shipping option, while expedited shipping is any delivery method that is faster in comparison to another, such as ground shipping. So same day delivery can be considered to be a form of expedited shipping when another, slower delivery option is offered.

How does expedited shipping work?

Expedited delivery is a way for ecommerce shippers to get orders into their customers’ hands faster, without the much higher cost of overnight shipping. When you offer expedited shipments, you reduce the overall shipping time from the standard 1-5 days to as little as 1-2 days, depending on the carrier and shipping service. To trim delivery times, expedited delivery requires business day cutoffs. Packages must be in the carrier’s hands (either picked up or dropped off at the Post Office or carrier stores) by a specific time to reach their destination on schedule. (Cutoff times vary by carrier and location, so be sure to confirm them in advance.) This in turn means that only orders placed by a pre-set time (which is determined by the amount time it takes you to process an order and pick, pack, weigh and label the package) are eligible for expedited delivery.

Who does expedited shipping?

All three major carriers—USPS, UPS and FedEx—offer expedited shipping services. Although the services are similar in many aspects, the details may differ significantly.

USPS, UPS and FedEx

USPS expedited shipping

Priority Mail Express® from the USPS offers guaranteed next-day delivery or 2-day delivery by 6pm with economical flat-rate pricing for packages weighing less than 70lbs (domestic shipments only). Priority Mail Express® includes free package pickup, USPS Tracking®, $100 insurance (for most shipments) and proof of delivery signature record (when requested at the time of purchase). In some markets, Sunday and holiday delivery may be available for an additional fee.

UPS expedited shipping service

UPS 2nd Day Air offers a convenient, low-cost alternative to overnight delivery with a reach to any address in the US and Puerto Rico, although some limitations may apply to shipments to Alaska and Hawaii. Packages can weigh up to 150 lbs. and arrive by the end of the second business day Monday through Friday. There is an additional fee for Saturday delivery. Pricing includes free UPS-branded packaging, complimentary pickup (daily or on call) and declared value up to $100.

You can receive discounts on UPS expedited shipping services when you create a UPS account in a PitneyShip™ solution. See this blog post if you are interested in more shipping options from UPS.

FedEx expedited shipping options

FedEx 2-Day shipping combines the speed your customers want with the economical rates your business needs. Simply drop off your package at a FedEx location or you can schedule a pickup for an additional charge. Delivery is available throughout the contiguous states and Alaska but is limited to the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Saturday delivery is available in some areas for an additional fee. Packages can weigh up to 150lbs. FedEx packaging is provided free of charge and each package type has its own minimum billable weight. If you use your own packaging, the shipping cost will be based on either the dimensional weight or the actual weight, whichever is heaviest. For even faster expedited shipping, explore the different options FedEx offers in this blog post on overnight delivery options.

How much does expedited shipping cost?

The major carriers all have different rate structures. Rates (and surcharges) vary widely and it’s not always easy to identify the best carrier for a particular shipment type. The decision as to which delivery service to choose will most likely be determined by which is your top priority: fast delivery or cost savings. That’s why multi-carrier shipping software is such a valuable tool. For example, with PitneyShip™ software solutions, you can see all your delivery options—including any surcharges—so you can compare apples to apples and easily identify the best combination of price and delivery time, every time.

FedEx also offers FedEx 2Day A.M., which delivers by 10:30am to businesses and by noon to residential addresses. The fastest FedEx delivery option is FedEx First Overnight, which offers delivery by 10:30am the next day.

How long does expedited shipping take?

Expedited shipping is fast: you can expect expedited delivery service to take two days or three days at most. However, the actual expedited shipping time will vary depending on which carrier and which expedited delivery service you use. While it’s not always the fastest shipping option available, expedited delivery can provide an economical solution when you can’t afford to wait long for delivery.

Is expedited shipping faster than standard, express and priority shipping?

Expedited shipping is fast, but it is not the fastest possible delivery option. All three major carriers offer faster Express shipping options, and UPS and FedEx both provide the option to specify delivery earlier in the day.

Is expedited shipping faster than standard shipping?

In a word, yes. Expedited shipping is faster than standard shipping. In fact, that’s the whole point of expedited delivery service. The differences between expedited shipping vs standard may vary from carrier to carrier, but delivery speed is always the primary differentiator. Standard shipping time for most carriers is 3-5 days, while expedited shipping delivers in 2-3 days.

Is expedited shipping faster than express shipping?

Expedited shipping speed is not as fast as express shipping. Express service is usually the fastest shipping method: packages are shipped overnight and shippers may have a choice of two or more “deliver by” times. The faster the delivery, the higher the cost. For example, in addition to FedEx 2Day, which delivers by 4:30pm, FedEx also offers FedEx 2Day A.M., which delivers by 10:30am to businesses and by noon to residential addresses. The fastest FedEx delivery option is FedEx First Overnight, which offers delivery by 10:30am the next day.

Does expedited shipping ship on weekends?

Expedited shipping is often available on weekends, but not always. The USPS delivers Priority Mail Express® shipments on Saturdays, and it also accepts packages for shipment at post offices on Saturdays. FedEx 2Day offers Saturday pickup and delivery in certain areas for an additional charge.

UPS 2nd Day Air will deliver on Saturday for an additional fee, but you must affix a Saturday delivery sticker to the package.

Is expedited shipping faster than priority shipping?

The terms priority shipping and expedited shipping are often used interchangeably, and in fact they basically mean the same thing. USPS calls its expedited shipping service Priority Mail® Express: however, it’s not the USPS fastest shipping option; that would be Priority Mail® Express 1-Day Delivery. The expedited shipping service from UPS is called UPS 2nd Day Air, while FedEx expedited shipping is called FedEx 2Day. Both carriers also give the option to schedule delivery next day or next day early in the day for an additional cost.

Is expedited shipping worth it?

If your package MUST arrive at its destination within a narrow time frame, then the higher expedited shipping cost may be a very good investment. For example, you may want to choose an expedited shipping service when you are sending:

  • Food, flowers or other perishables
  • Birthday or wedding gifts
  • Time-sensitive legal documents
  • Just-in-time inventory replenishment for manufacturing
  • Emergency supplies for disaster aid

For ecommerce shippers, expedited shipping can help reduce cart abandonment because it gives consumers the quick delivery they want at a relatively low cost.

Using expedited shipping with Pitney Bowes

Shipping is an integral part of your business, and it can consume a big chunk of your budget. So, it’s important to select the right delivery speed and the right carrier for your packages. Expedited shipping provides a quick and affordable alternative to more costly express shipping.

Once you’ve determined that expedited delivery makes sense, how do you decide which carrier to use? It can take a lot of time and effort to compare the basic rates offered by multiple carriers online, and then you need to factor in any additional charges or fees for services like package pickup, fuel surcharges or Saturday delivery.

Although you are willing to pay a higher price to have your package delivered within two days, you don’t want to spend more than you have to. And with a multi-carrier shipping software solution, you won’t have to worry about overspending on shipping. PitneyShip™ software solutions from Pitney Bowes let you compare rates from the major carriers in just a few clicks. They will also show you any additional charges so you can see the full cost and make the smart decision every time.

But the benefits don’t stop there. With PitneyShip™ software you get access to discounted rates on every package, First Class letter or Priority Mail shipment you send. Built-in address verification eliminates the cost of redeliveries. Plus, you have full visibility into all shipping and mailing activity across your business, so you can analyze trends and set rules to prevent overspending.