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How to Offer Customers Affordable Expedited Shipping

Everyone wants their shipment affordable, and they also want expedited shipping so it arrives within a specific time frame. 

What Does Expedited Shipment Mean? 

An expedited order refers to a type of shipping service that is faster than standard shipping. It will usually come with an expedited shipping price, higher than the standard price. Expedited shipping times allow customers to receive their goods more quickly than with standard delivery times.

As we well know, eCommerce has substantially increased from 2020 to today due to the response to the pandemic. Today customers are accustomed to their expedited orders arriving at the door rather than going out and toting home purchases from the store. We’re visiting websites and looking for our deliveries to arrive quickly – within two days or even one day. The question asked is how can merchants provide the best speed and price for customers who want expedited orders.

Keeping up with the expanding appetite for expedited shipping can be challenging for any business, as the best price for the fastest speed is very sought after by the customer and the merchant. But before we go on, let’s get clear on a question.

As previously stated, on the most basic level, expedited refers to any shipping solution that is faster than the standard service. An even more fundamental truth is that expedited shipping refers to the quicker of two or more shipping options. 

An example would be offering two levels of shipping… let’s say a ground delivery service that takes 5+ business days and an air-based solution that arrives in 2-3 days. In this case, the air service is your expedited shipping option. And to answer the often-asked question is expedited shipping faster than priority? If the provider offers more than three shipping tiers, express shipping services are generally understood to be faster than expedited.

Expedited orders can also refer to specific services from shipping carriers. UPS expedited, which according to their website is in the international shipping category, takes two business days. It is one of three international shipping services. 

Among the major carriers UPS is the only one that refers to a service as expedited. One important aspect to remember is that the word ‘expedited’ does not necessarily mean the fastest shipping option. UPS does offer a service it calls UPS Worldwide Express Plus, which is faster than expedited. 

Expedited Shipping Times & Carriers

Different carriers define expedited shipping in their own way. For example, USPS expedited shipping is faster than standard expedited shipping options which include:

  • Priority Mail Express, taking 1 day
  • Priority Mail, taking 2 business days
  • Priority Mail Small Flat Rate, taking 1-3 business days

Anything with the word Priority is expedited.

The FedEx offerings are:

  • Standard Overnight, taking one business day
  • FedEx 2Day, taking 2 business days
  • Express Saver, taking 3 business days

UPS Expedited shipments are:

  • UPS Next Day Air, 1 business day
  • UPS 2nd Day Air, 2 business days
  • UPS 3Day Select, taking 3 business days

There are other carriers as well, each of which has its speeds and costs, and there are international delivery services provided by all of the carriers. So the obvious observation is that understanding shipping services and costs and speed of delivery is not an easy task. It takes expertise, as every carrier is different – different names, costs, and speeds.

Are Expedited Shipping Services Needed?

expedited shipping services - AMS Fulfillment
Because of the increased cost, thought has to go into what is the best time frame. Of course, there are circumstances where the fastest delivery can be urgent – medical supplies for example, or critical equipment for a manufacturer. Regardless of size, all shipments can be expedited when there is urgency involved. 

Not everything is urgent, however, and there are times when expedited delivery is deemed worth it for the convenience, or it is an expectation of the customer. The extra cost provides the advantages of speed, less handling, real-time delivery updates, and additional security of goods. There also is a use of free expedited services from several eCommerce sellers, which can be very attractive to customers and increase sales. So sometimes expedited is not based on ‘do you really need’ but on appeal.

When a business uses an expedited choice, in most cases the service involves only one mode of transportation, with a second transport possibly doing the final miles, thus shortening transit times. 

Another advantage of expedited shipping, and the reason some customers use it, is the ability to track the shipment at any given time. This is a very welcome convenience for customers. Additionally online quoting tools help a great deal in the purchase of expedited orders. Customers can look at an array of service levels – allowing for the most effective process.

What Does Expedited Mean to a 3PL? 

Now let’s look at the best answer to our title question, “How to Offer Customers Affordable Expedited Shipping.” The answer is – to utilize a third-party logistics company (3PL). The 3PL offers tremendous advantages for the merchant, including the lowest possible expedited shipping cost and the fastest speed. 

This is due to the tremendous volumes shipped and the 3PL’s expertise concerning carriers as well as the ability to negotiate with carriers. And it’s also due to the technology that a fulfillment company is willing to invest in. Fulfillment companies with the best in technology will offer the very best prices for expedited orders as well as the means to always know where an order is in the process.

Let’s return to the basics – expedited refers to a shipping solution that is faster than the standard service. How is a 3PL able to expedite your shipment? 

  • The fulfillment company can consider the package’s dimensions, weight, and speed that the client needs, or can shop around for the best rate.
  • The fulfillment company can utilize different warehouse locations, perhaps on both coasts or in different locations across the country that allow them to warehouse your products in the best location, accelerating delivery time to customers.
  • Fulfillment companies will have expertise in logistics and hazmat regulations and will have relationships with carriers that translate into discounted prices.

Understanding Price & Service

The goal of a 3PL is to find freight expedited shipping services that meet the service level desired by the client, in this case, expedited, at the lowest possible cost. The 3PL should act as the merchant’s operations arm doing the rate shopping and logistics management and offering every benefit and solution available. The ideal 3PL will best provide what we’re looking for – Affordable Expedited Shipping.

Concerning cost, in addition to the other services mentioned, your 3PL should audit every transaction, looking for any invalid fees and making sure the merchant or manufacturer pays only for packages that arrive within the guaranteed expedited delivery time. 

Investment in Technology

express shipping - AMS Fulfillment

Although it requires a significant upfront cost, the fulfillment company’s investment in technology is vital to reducing their client’s costs and decreasing their delivery times. Making investments in technology translates into reduced overhead and labor costs for the fulfillment company, and it serves the clients in reducing their costs, increasing efficiency, tracking the progress of their product, and so on.

For technology to be top-notch, the fulfillment company will have an in-house team of programmers and developers, monitoring the system and improving and developing it. The systems of the clients need to be fully integrated, there must be a client portal for access to all data in real-time, and the clients need reporting analytics. 

In the fulfillment industry automation is applicable for data collection, data processing, and predictable physical work. In practice, the factors for consideration are the technical feasibility, costs to automate, relative scarcity, the cost of workers who might otherwise do the activity, the superior performance of automation beyond labor-cost substitution, and regulatory and social acceptance.

What Does the Data say?

According to the latest McKinsey data, which measured the technical feasibility of time spent on activities that can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology, 78% of predictable physical work is automatable, 69% of data processing, and 64% of data collection. It follows that your greatest cost savings on expedited shipping will be available from a 3PL that has made a significant investment in automation and technology.

If expedited shipping is provided by a 3PL with cutting-edge automation and fulfillment technology you will have your best speed and best price. This fulfillment company will have invested in automation equipment and will have on staff experienced IT programmers that thoroughly understand the complexities of the fulfillment industry. Also, cutting-edge means utilizing best-of-breed technology partners for the software packages. 

The fulfillment expertise of your 3PL is half of the picture in being the best at providing affordable expedited shipping. Technology is the other half. 

What can AMS Fulfillment do?

expedited delivery - AMS Fulfillment

AMS Fulfillment is a 3PL with more than 20 years in the business. A very good share of the management at AMS has been dedicated to developing the company from the beginning. In other words, the company is home to some highly experienced fulfillment lifers. 

The fulfillment expertise at AMS is top-of-the-line. And AMS has always been out front regarding investing in technology. Ongoing and current investment is being made concerning automatable physical work as well as data processing and collection. 

Finally, in answer to the question of how to offer expedited shipping to customers that’s affordable, the answer is… choose to work with a 3PL that has fulfillment experience and has made the commitment to invest in the most advanced automation and technology to best serve its clients. We invite you to Contact Us at AMS Fulfillment to see why we are your go-to fulfillment partner. When you choose AMS there is an extra benefit – you are doing business with a B Corporation.

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