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Tips for How To Get Cheaper Shipping Rates for Your Business

how to get cheaper shipping rates - AMS Fulfillment

What is the least expensive way to ship packages? Finding your way through shipping options and determining the best shipping carrier for a particular package is challenging, to say the least. For a small business shipping various products of different sizes and weights, it is a priority to find the right rates and speeds for your customers. How do you find the best shipping rates for your business? How to get cheaper shipping rates? If your business is large enough to utilize the services of a fulfillment company, the problem is solved. They’re experts at finding the best rates, speed, and price – that’s what they do! But for the smaller company that does their own shipping, some knowledge is needed.

We are going to presume readers know how to box, pack, tape, and select the best container and filler for the product, keeping in mind weight and size. We will focus on the process of determining the cost for the size of the package and finding the best carrier among the top three carriers to meet all of the criteria of speed and delivery.

The high cost of shipping can cause shoppers to abandon their carts, and this is simply a reality. If your product costs $22 and the shipping costs $12, that is a lost sale. If the shipping is $6, the customer may weigh the final cost as under $30 and make the purchase, especially if the price of the product is a ‘good deal’.

Shipping costs are determined by the size, weight, speed of delivery required, and distance. If a business is shipping one product the job of finding the best rates is solved by determining these factors and investigating the ‘rules and regs’ concerning size, weight, and so forth of the shipping provider. You would measure the dimensions of your package, weigh it, and look at what the providers say.

Priority Mail and USPS First-Class Mail

Flat-rate shipping… what does that mean? It means that the cost of shipping the package is not connected to the weight. For this type of shipping, the shipper will determine the size of the package needed for the product being shipped and pay an already determined price for the package. This would be an excellent choice for a small product with some weight to it. Many consider the United States Postal Service (USPS) best, concerning shipping fees. This can be the case, or not, depending on all of the criteria.

Boxes and envelopes of a variety of sizes are available at the US Post Office or USPS website. The size of the box or envelope is listed as well as the postal rate for shipping it to its destination. Flat-rate shipping refers to uniform pricing as long as size and weight limits aren’t exceeded.

Two other major shipping carriers, United Parcel Service (UPS) and Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn (DHL), do not offer flat-rate shipping. Federal Express (FedEx) offers some FedEx flat-rate shipping for items that weigh less than 50 pounds and there may be other smaller shippers who offer flat-rate options. The USPS is the most prominent provider offering this service, which includes the Priority Mail program.

An example would be a USPS flat-rate envelope of a smaller size that ships for $6.70. A medium-sized flat-rate box is also available, and it ships larger items for $13.65. Anything that fits in the box ships for the same price as long as the product is not over the weight limit. The USPS weight limit is 70 pounds.

Pre-stamping the boxes can be very convenient for the shipper. The price for pre-stamping or click-and-ship is the same as if it was paid in the post office, however, if you purchase and print the postage online it offers the convenience of being able to ship directly from your door without a trip to the post office.

Shipping Carriers Do Have Prohibitions

There are prohibited materials in USPS mail for both the envelope and box. You cannot ship guns, prescription medications, and alcohol. The exception would be dealers or manufacturers, and there are rules to be followed. It is also prohibited to ship tobacco and tobacco products. Some exceptions are made for cigars and tobacco for business or research use.

There are also restrictions on the shipping of products that are considered hazardous, and this includes perfume, aerosols and cleaning products, dry ice, paint, batteries, and other household products that are considered potentially harmful and once again rules to be followed for manufacturers and dealers.

USPS Priority Mail Options

The great news is that priority mail packages usually arrive within three business days, and this speed is satisfactory to most shoppers. The price includes package pickup from your home or store. Online package tracking is included on all USPS shipments and the price includes $50 worth of insurance on the package, with the customer having the option of purchasing more insurance if the customer needs it.

Priority Mail’s flat rate has a 2-3 day delivery option that doesn’t have a guarantee for money back. There is a fairly large variety in size as well including small, windowed envelopes, large envelopes for legal documents, and boxes that can be side or top-loaded in small, medium, and large sizes. This two-day service delivers to all mailboxes, and it has a 70 lb. weight limit.

Time-sensitive documents or items can be shipped by express mail in flat-rate packages. Express mail has a signature option, a money-back guarantee, and $100 in insurance. Size and shape options are limited and there is the 70 lb. weight limit.

International Shipping Costs

Both USPS priority mail and express mail offer international flat-rate shipping. Since international shipping costs change, and all shipping costs are subject to change, we will not give prices but instead focus on types of delivery. Understanding the options can help businesses reduce international shipping costs.

The delivery time for International Priority Mail is six to ten days. The delivery time for Express Mail International is three to five days. There are multiple box and envelope sizes for Priority Mail International but there is only one envelope size and two box sizes for Express Mail International. International flat rate boxes have some restrictions and weight is limited to 20 pounds. Shippers are not allowed to ‘stuff’ a box or envelope. The closures have to be smooth.

There are a few more things to consider when utilizing USPS for your shipping. If you require a certificate of mailing, the post office can issue a document at a cost of under $2 recording the date and time that you mailed a particular package. Shippers can get an international postage price calculator from the USPS and shippers can order supplies from the USPS as well as labels on the USPS website.

Let’s do a quick listing of USPS shipping options and times, and we will follow that with UPS and FedEx for comparison:

  • USPS Ground Advantage = 2-5 business days
  • Media Mail = 2-8 business days
  • First Class Mail = 1-5 business days
  • Priority Mail = 1-3 business days
  • Priority Mail Express = Overnight to 2 days


International USPS shipping options and times:

  • Global Express Guaranteed = 1-3 business days
  • Priority Mail International = 6-10 business days
  • Priority Mail Express International = 3-5 business days


First-Class Package International Service, First Class Mail International, and Airmail M-Bags all vary by destination.

Major Carriers: Dimensional Weight (DIM Weight)

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People often ask, what is the cheapest way to ship for businesses? How can we lower shipping costs? To determine that answer, from the major carriers, there are many factors to consider. First of all, let’s ask what dimensional weight (DIM weight) is, as UPS and FedEx do determine their charges by DIM weight. For the major carriers, rates are based on the total actual weight or the total DIM weight of all packages in a shipment, whichever is greater. DIM weight is determined by using the International Air Transport Association (IATA) volumetric standard, which is subject to change without prior notice.

What is DIM weight? To clarify further, DIM weight is the amount of space a package occupies to its actual weight. For each shipment, you are charged based on the dimensional weight or actual weight of the package—whichever is greater. There is a process for determining DIM weight which involves measuring each dimension fully and applying a mathematical formula to determine the number. We will not cover it fully here, but calculators are quickly available online from the carriers.

With all of the shipping carriers, the cost of shipping depends on these factors: the DIM weight of the package, how fast it needs to be delivered, and the distance. Shippers will need to determine the DIM weight using the formula for their chosen carrier and understand that the major carriers are each setting their own rules as it pertains to size restrictions, weight restrictions, dimensional calculations (unique DIM divisors), and surcharges that may apply. People want to know how to get cheaper shipping rates, and finding out these answers is required.

Is DIM weight hard to calculate? To calculate dimensional (DIM) weight, multiply the length, width, and height of a package, using the longest point on each side. Then, divide the cubic size of the package in inches by the carrier’s published or negotiated DIM divisor to calculate the dimensional weight in pounds. As an example, the published DIM divisor for UPS Ground in 2024 is 166. So for a UPS Ground package, you would multiply the L x W x H in inches to get the total cubic inches, and divide that by the 166 DIM divisor. It is not hard to calculate the DIM weight as the carrier provides a calculator. Only by knowing the greater of the dimensional weight and the physical weight will you be able to determine the cheapest way to ship.

UPS Shipping Options

Let’s begin with UPS. United Parcel Service (UPS) offers many international and domestic shipping services. These services include ground delivery, air shipments, express shipments, and freight transportation. Knowing these options will help to determine how to get cheaper shipping rates.

These are the main categories of UPS shipping services but keep in mind these services may include subcategories:

  • UPS Standard = 3+ days
  • UPS Ground = 1-5 days
  • UPS SurePost = 2-6 days
  • UPS Hundredweight Service = 1-5 days
  • UPS 3-Day Select = 3 days
  • UPS 2nd Day Air = 2 days
  • UPS Next Day Air = next business day
  • UPS Express Critical = same day


UPS offers the following international shipping options, with several shipment times available:

  • UPS Express Critical = same day
  • UPS Worldwide Express = 1-3+ days
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited = 2-5 days


UPS also ships via Freight Services as follows:

  • UPS Air Freight
  • UPS Ocean Freight
  • UPS Freight Trucking and LTL Solutions
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited Ground Freight


UPS offers other services as do other major carriers as follows:

  • Delivery Confirmation
  • Collect on Delivery
  • Delivery Change Request
  • Direct Delivery Only
  • Hold for Pickup
  • Saturday Delivery
  • Notification Services
  • Shipper Release
  • Customs Brokerage
  • UPS Delivery Intercept
  • Daily Pickups
  • UPS Returns


FedEx Shipping Options: Including International

FedEx offers both domestic and international shipping services for envelopes, packages, and freight. Shippers will need to investigate USPS, UPS, and FedEx options to find the shipping cost that is the most economical among the major carriers. USPS is considered by many to be the cheapest carrier, but this is not necessarily true. As always, it depends on the package, the weight, the speed, and the distance.

FedEx shipping services are as follows:

  • FedEx Ground = 1-7 business days
  • FedEx Ground Economy = 2-7 days
  • FedEx Express Saver = 3 business days
  • FedEx 2Day = 2 business days
  • FedEx Standard Overnight = Next business day
  • FedEx Priority Overnight = mid-morning next business day
  • FedEx First Overnight = morning next business day


There are several international options with FedEx as follows:

  • FedEx International Ground = 2-7 business days
  • FedEx International Economy = 2-5 business days
  • FedEx International Priority = 1-3 business days
  • FedEx International First = early morning 1-3 business days
  • FedEx International Next Flight = ASAP next available flight


Like UPS, FedEx offers domestic and international freight shipping. FedEx Freight services include:

  • FedEx Overnight Freight
  • FedEx 1Day, 2Day, and 3Day Freight
  • FedEx Freight Priority
  • FedEx International Next Flight
  • International Priority
  • International Economy and Freight Priority as well as Freight Economy


Other FedEx Services include:

  • Packing
  • Scheduled Pickup
  • Signature Delivery
  • Insurance
  • Free Saturday
  • Free FedEx Express Packaging


Making Comparisons Between USPS, UPS, and FedEx

First, we can say UPS offers guaranteed shipping, package tracking, and heavy shipments, FedEx provides fast deliveries, package tracking, and Saturday home delivery and USPS is best at shipping small packages, shipping to PO boxes, and free pickup.

Shipping costs can make or break a company, so shippers always need to know how to get cheaper shipping rates. The answer is that the shipper must first determine the many different factors we have discussed. What is the size of your product, what is the DIM weight if using one of the major carriers? There is no way to determine the average shipping cost for any of the carriers as so much depends on weight and distance (or zone) and how your orders break down within these areas of concern.

In general, we can say, there have been rate increases in all three carriers, but USPS will often be the most economical option for lower-weight packages, especially those under 1 lb, while the duopoly of UPS and FedEx compete for packages that have larger dimensions and/or weights.

Shipping Labels and Shipping Discounts

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Is there a cheaper way to ship for businesses? Before we cover prices, we will answer whether you can lower shipping costs by printing your own shipping labels. If you are a business owner, understand that most carriers offer shipping labels to you for free. All of the shipping carriers, USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, provide free shipping labels, which, of course, saves time and money.

For individuals who wish to buy their labels online, it is possible to get discounted postage rates when you buy shipping labels through the carrier’s website. If you have a printer, you can buy a label online and print the label at home. Keep in mind that if your package weighs more than indicated on the label, most companies will issue a surcharge or send the package back to the pick-up address.

How To Get Cheaper Shipping Rates

Shippers need to determine how to reduce shipping costs. Our advice would be to not limit yourself to just one provider. It is recommended that merchants consider a mix of two or three delivery services to determine what is best. A seller may benefit by shipping lightweight packages via USPS first-class mail and heavy packages via UPS. Or the business may find cheaper shipping costs by utilizing FedEx for expedited shipments. If the shipper wants to reduce international shipping costs they may want to include DHL in their research as DHL is heavily utilized for international shipping. DHL has different levels of service, including DHL eCommerce which is more competitively priced, and DHL Express which is a top-tier and reliable service. Another competitive option is Passport, which uses local postal services in a hybrid-type solution.

Although rates change, we will list some current shipping rates for analysis. We will begin with USPS. Our first recommendation is to sign up for the USPS commercial rates. For USPS Ground Advantage, the shipping zone contributes to the price as well as size and weight. Currently, the starting rate for this category is $4.75. Media Mail is based on the shipping zones, size, and weight, and is starting priced for commercial mail at $2.59. First-class mail, up to 13 oz., starts at 50 cents.

USPS priority mail and priority mail express shipping fees are based on weight, size, and shipping zones as well. Commercial priority mail starts at $7.64 and commercial priority mail express starts at $24.90. The flat rate may be different, so the sender will need to check the pricing.

UPS and FedEx: Basic Shipping Costs

First let’s look into the shipping carrier, UPS. One thing about UPS and FedEx that is considered better than USPS, is tracking. And UPS offers guaranteed express for getting the package to the customer quickly. UPS organizes its pricing into daily rates and retail rates, with retail being the rates an individual would get in the store. Daily rates are discounted, for those that have established an account with UPS.

The daily rates prices are based on the package weight, the size of the package, and the zones. All of the prices we will list are based on these three elements. UPS Ground starts at $10.10, UPS 3Day Select starts at $14.19, UPS 2nd Day Air starts at $22.68, and UPS Next Day Air starts at $30.56. There is also a category called UPS Hundredweight Service which is priced on the weight, size, and zone plus the number of packages.

The first recommendation with FedEx is to get an account, which will lower shipping costs. Clients can get personal and business accounts, and of course, there are advantages to having a business account. FedEx shipping rates are based on weight, size, and shipping zone, like UPS. FedEx Ground starts at $10.10, FedEx Express Saver starts at $21.03, FedEx 2Day starts at $22.59, FedEx Standard Overnight starts at $29.54, FedEx Priority Overnight starts at $30.25, and FedEx First Overnight starts at $61.25. For accurate and up-to-date rates, we suggest going to the website and utilizing the rates calculator.

In general, USPS is considered best for free pickup, shipping to PO boxes, and shipping small packages. UPS is considered best for heavy shipments, package tracking, and guaranteed shipping. FedEx is considered best for Saturday home delivery, package tracking, and fast deliveries. Concerning average shipping cost, as you can see, giving an average is impossible with all of the many variables.

Cheapest Shipping Prices & Best Rates for Next Day

The question is asked, is there a cheaper way to ship for businesses? As we know, the answer is “It depends.” What size, weight, speed, and many other details make it an impossible question to answer. But we will attempt to give some advice. Generally, when it comes to cheapest rates, most shippers will say that for lightweight packages, USPS First Class has the best prices, starting at $4.50 for 2-5 day delivery. For larger items, USPS Priority Mail is recommended. The prices start at $8.70 for 1-3 day delivery. And USPS Flat Rate boxes are considered the best value for the money.

There are two recommendations regarding the cheapest shipping rates for next-day delivery. It turns out that even though all of the major carriers offer this delivery option, USPS is still considered the cheapest. The rates of UPS Next Day Air Saver are competitive with USPS and FedEx Standard overnight is slightly more costly.

AMS Fulfillment: The Very Best Way to Reduce Shipping Costs

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We will conclude as we began, by mentioning the very best way to reduce shipping costs for those companies and businesses that ship more than a few packages per day. Look for an experienced fulfillment company that has relationships with a variety of carriers, extremely competitive contracted rates, rate shopping software, bi-coastal facilities, years in the business, and skilled employees who understand the complexities and intricacies of shipping in today’s eCommerce world. The right one will, without a doubt, be a master of shipping and will save you money.

AMS Fulfillment is a mid-sized fulfillment company located on both coasts. AMS is small enough to develop true partner relationships with its clients and large enough to handle any fulfillment task including B2B, and B2C of all types. We handle everything including customer service, accounting, back office, returns, and much more. And of course, AMS is a master of shipping. AMS also has the unique advantage of being a B Corporation.

We invite you to visit AMS Fulfillment. We know how to reduce shipping costs for the business and satisfy the end customer as well.



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