Which shipping and mailing services are available online?

There are many mailing services online—but most people only need to concern themselves with the Big Three: USPS®, FedEx®, and UPS®. PitneyShip can help you decide which is the right one for your needs for any given shipment.

Most businesses rely on shipping and mailing to a certain extent. To keep costs down while improving efficiency, online solutions are essential. The various shipping and mailing services are all great for specific needs, though given that rates and offerings change over time, it’s best to get help sorting through them all. PitneyShip can help you make sense of the various offerings at a granular level so you can ship what you want where you want, on time and at the right price.

These are your primary options for online shipping and mailing services:

  • USPS: The US Postal Service has been around quite a bit longer than the Internet—but it’s adjusted pretty quickly. All their services are available online, from Media Mail to Priority Mail Express, and you’ll usually find competitive rates, especially if your shipment isn’t especially urgent.

  • UPS: UPS also has a strong online presence, and you should be able to get good rates from them for faster delivery times (2-3 days especially).

  • FedEx: You should find FedEx very similar to UPS in rates and offerings. They made their name in overnight shipping, though, so if it needs to get there ASAP, you may want to start with them.

  • Regional and Local Carriers: These aren’t for everyone. They can be terrific for large shipments that aren’t going far (about one or two states away), but it’s harder to work through rates and offerings than with the Big Three. Consider PitneyShip® Pro shipping and mailing solution if you want to explore these carriers and see if they can save you money.

We’ll explore some specific shipping needs and how they relate to the various providers, but every shipper and shipment is unique, so make sure to use a shipping software like PitneyShip to lock down the right deal for you.

How urgent is your shipment?

Generally speaking, if you have to get your shipment to its destination overnight, your best bet is to go with FedEx or UPS—though some situations may make USPS a better deal. Two-day shipping isn’t offered by USPS, but if you don’t mind a three-day transit, you should find competitive rates from all three major carriers. All are quite reliable, so barring a natural disaster, your parcel will likely get there when they say it’ll get there.

The contents of your parcel can significantly change the cost of sending it.

What are you shipping?

The contents of your parcel can significantly change the cost of sending it, and may affect shipping in other ways.

  • High-value items like jewelry and electronics usually require special services, like insurance and signature confirmation. USPS Registered Mail is considered quite safe, but there are so many variables it’s a good idea to check offerings from all three carriers for each shipment.

  • Food and other perishable items usually need speedy delivery, which will usually cost you more. UPS and FedEx are strong here.

  • Books, DVDs, and other media get special low rates from USPS—but Media Mail parcels can take up to eight days to be delivered, so that’s not the best choice for rush jobs. If you definitely need it there in under a week, consider other, pricier options.

Where are your recipients?

Domestic shipping is trickier than you’d think. The US is split into eight shipping zones, and rates increase slightly depending on the distance between them for anything heavier than a letter. That means if you’ve got a lot of parcels going all over the US, you can save a lot of time (and possibly a lot of money) using PitneyShip to calculate the best rates for you.

International shipping is also tricky, but for different reasons. Customs and insurance may not be rocket science, but they can be time-consuming to get right every time. USPS First Class Mail is usually the cheapest way to ship internationally, but if you need to get it there quickly, you should look into FedEx or UPS. 

Recommended reading

Reduce your shipping costs for your small business with PitneyShip

Learn more about small business shipping