Who is Winning the Shipping War? It All Depends on What You Need.

fulfillment-shipping-300When it comes to shipping to the consumer, merchants are generally focused on three aspects of the fulfillment process: reliability, delivery times, and cost. In a recent executive summary by Stamps.com, a postage vendor of the United States Postal Service, evaluated the three largest shipping carriers in the U.S. in search of who reigns supreme in the world of American shipping.

And the answer: it all depends on each merchants shipping needs.

According to the Who’s Winning the Shipping War executive summary, in September 2013 and again on January 2014, Stamps.com took a look at USPS, UPS, and FedEx and analyzed each shippers reliability, delivery times, and cost by shipping nearly 150 packages from Los Angeles, Virginia and Chicago.

According to the executive summary, packages were shipped from each location on a Monday and again on a Thursday. Monday was chosen so shippers had one full work week to ship an item, and Thursday was to allow time to analyze how each shipper incorporated the weekend into its delivery schedules. All packages were identical in size, shape, and each weighed in a 1lbs. 9 oz.

While the executive summary pointed out that the three main carriers had 100% of their packages arrive at their destinations without any significant damage, there were clear winners in certain categories:

While the number of total scans per package was just about equal among all carriers, FedEx scanned the most with 10.38 scans per package, followed by UPS with 9.79, and USPS with 9.42.

Delivery Times:
For packages shipping on Monday, 100% of USPS Priority Mail packages were delivered within two days compared to the 50% of UPS Ground and 58% of FedEx Home Delivery packages. On average, according to the summary, all three carriers delivered packages to Zone 1 in one day and Zone 4 in two days.

UPS Ground and FedEx Delivery however, delivered packages faster by half a day, on average, to Zones 2 and 3.

For packages shipped out on Thursday, 92% of USPS Priority Mail packages were delivered in two days, 55% of FedEx Home Delivery packages, and 33% of UPS Ground. Again, on average, all three carriers delivered packages to Zone 1 in one day and Zone 3 in two days.

Just like on Monday, UPS Ground and FedEx Delivery delivered packages faster by half a day, on average, to Zones 2 and 3.

Cost Savings:
For the average cost to ship a 2 lbs. package to a resident, the USPS Priority Mail was the least expensive at $7.34, followed by $10.40 with FedEx Home Delivery, and $10.45 by UPS Ground. However, according to the report, “for higher weight packages specifically, packages over 10 lbs. — UPS and FedEx offered the most cost savings. For lower weight packages — packages that are 4 lbs. and under the USPS is the best option.”

What Stamps.com found during the two day shipping spree was that ecommerce sellers should use a “mixture of all three shipping carriers” in order to utilize peak performance.

Erin Lynch is the senior content producer at Multichannel Merchant. Erin can be reached (203) 899-8461 or connect with her socially on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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