Mailing vs. Shipping: What’s in a name?

Don’t limit your shipping options because of carrier misconceptions.

Thu Jun 09 14:22:00 EDT 2016

“Mailing a package.” “Shipping a package.” Your average sender probably uses these terms interchangeably – and for them, what’s the difference? After all, as long as the package is being handed over for delivery, what does it matter whether they call it mailing or shipping?

There’s also a tendency among senders – individuals and businesses alike – to associate different carriers with one term or the other. For instance, when someone says that they are mailing a package, the connotation usually lays with the U.S. Postal Service®. On the flip side of that, when someone says they are shipping a package, they might say they’re doing so with FedEx or UPS. For many, the Postal Service is the package “mailing” carrier while FedEx and UPS are the package “shipping” carriers.

To most, the distinction between mailing, shipping or the three carriers may not be much of a big deal. But, to the small businesses and shipping managers that are actually responsible for overseeing these processes, there’s a meaningful reason for why shipping and mailing are two different words – and why the carrier associations they may have always had in their heads are slightly off the mark.

Defining the Difference

Simply put, there’s no such thing as “mailing a package.” The process of mailing an item refers strictly to letter mail in regular-sized envelopes, which is carried out by the Postal Service.

Shipping, on the other hand, refers to sending either a package (i.e. any item that has been boxed) or an oversized envelope that has been designated for expedited shipping. This process can be handled by any carrier, including the Postal Service, FedEx and UPS.

Why That Matters for Shipping

Because when businesses associate mailing as a Postal Service function, or shipping as a uniquely FedEx and UPS function, they may gloss over one important fact: the ability to ship packages with the Postal Service.

Shipping rates and delivery timelines aren’t uniform across all three carriers. They each have their own unique advantages that can be leveraged to your benefit. But, being able to capitalize on that means having a shipping solution in place that can clearly and intuitively delegate when to ship with the Postal Service, when to ship with FedEx or when to ship with UPS.

Don’t limit your shipping options because of carrier misconceptions, like the Postal Service being exclusively for letters, or FedEx and UPS exclusively used for overnight service. Knocking down these self-imposed barriers is essential for any small business looking to streamline their shipping operations and ensure that packages are being delivered to customers in the most time-efficient and cost-effective ways.

Office professionals looking to take the guess work out of their shipping operations should consider SendPro®, an all-in-one integrated solution that streamlines every phase of the shipping process – from package weighing and label printing to pickup scheduling and parcel tracking.