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How Package Size and Carrier Charges Affect the Shipper You Choose

Jul 9, 2019 6:16:00 PM

The big parcel carriers like FedEx, UPS and USPS will say they’re the best, but they can’t all be right. Choosing the best solution for your needs takes looking deeper – and teaming up with 71lbs.

Parcel carriers are a crucial link in the success of your business. Customer satisfaction and your reputation are ultimately put in their hands. Selecting the right shipping solution depends on several factors, the most important of which is your ability to hold the shipper accountable for their performance.

The key things to consider before choosing a carrier

  • The carrier’s reputation – This can be a tough one, since these companies are international giants who must be doing something right. Ask friends or business contacts if they have any experiences with individual carriers and who they feel is most reliable. You can check the press/online to get more information. As an example, FedEx opened this year as one of the top 10 most admired companies in the world.
  • Package size – The smaller the package, the easier and cheaper it will be to use a standard postal option. The opposite applies to bulkier items that require more work on the carrier’s part.
  • Delivery distance – Domestic or overseas? The length of the package’s journey not only affects the cost, it means delivery time becomes even more important. Choosing a carrier that excels in international delivery will help keep customers satisfied.

After considering these factors, it’s time to decide which one of the big three carriers would be best for your business.

The leading shipping options


FedEx might be best for companies shipping heavier items. Their Ground and Express services (both domestic and international options) can ship envelopes and packages weighing 150 pounds and up to 108 inches in length and 165 inches in length plus girth. Their home delivery services ship packages up to 70 pounds in the same dimensions. Extra fees apply for packages exceeded these measurements. (Use their sizing guide to see how your package shapes up).

FedEx also offer Same Day/Same City delivery and three different overnight options: First (which aims to get your package to its destination early the next morning), Priority (by 10:30 a.m.) and Standard (by 3 p.m. the next day). These services may take longer when shipping to rural areas. Most FedEx services are backed by a money-back guarantee.

You can decide if FedEx is right for you by calculating Express, Ground and Freight shipping expenses using their rate tool. You can also get more information by clicking “Rates” on their PDF and jumping straight to page 21.


UPS also offers Next Day, 2-day and 3-day shipping options. They don’t set any upper limit on package weight, but they generally apply the following rules before determining that a package is heavy enough to be shipped freight:

  • Packages can be up to 150 pounds.
  • Packages can be up to 165 inches in length and girth combined.
  • Packages can be up to 108 inches in length.
  • Packages with a large size-to-weight ratio require special pricing and dimensional weight calculations.

The UPS shipping rates page provides comprehensive information on daily rates, retail rates and air freight expenses, and the shipping calculator provides a quick figure on what the likely costs will be.

Both UPS and FedEx offer tracking options for businesses, but these aren’t always easy to understand. Our previous blog highlighted how both carriers have engaged in some unscrupulous practices regarding their guaranteed service refunds that every business should be aware of.


The Postal Service could be the right choice if your business deals in smaller, lighter items. It’s the cheapest of the bunch and offers three options for shipping – Express (which will typically arrive in 1 to 2 business days for remote locations), Priority (2 to 3 business days) and First Class (2 to 5 business days). Parcels under 2 pounds in weight are best-fitted for USPS shipping.

The obvious drawback with the USPS is that your package won’t be going anywhere on weekends, a delay you may want to consider, as it can turn a 5-day waiting time into a week. Another limitation is that two of those options, First Class and Priority, don’t provide businesses with any guaranteed delivery date, unlike FedEx or UPS.

It’s up to each business to decide if the money saved is worth the risk of delayed delivery. Check out the full USPS price chart for more shipping information and read our previous blog to see how costly late deliveries can be.

Selecting the right shipping option brings us to the riskiest part of the shipping process – handing it over to the carrier and trusting they’ll do their job.

Let 71lbs help you with parcel tracking

We specialize in helping our clients make the most of their shipping. Our services keep tabs on parcel carriers to make sure they’re keeping their part of the bargain. Don’t miss out on your share of the fortune in unclaimed refunds that slip through the net.

At 71lbs, we uncomplicate the shipping process for our customers, making it easier and faster for them to access refunds and reduce their expenses. Our automated platform gathers all your shipping information into one easy-to-use custom analytics dashboard. Drop by the contact page to get in touch.

Topics: Shipping Costs

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