Why USPS Priority Mail Matters

If you’re re-evaluating your e-commerce shipping strategy and want to find a solution that combines speed and affordability, then you should take a look at USPS Priority Mail®. Featuring delivery to most domestic locations in 1-3 days, Priority Mail also includes free USPS Tracking®, free Package Pickup and up to $50 of insurance with most shipments. The Postal Service also offers a variety of free supplies for Priority Mail shipments, which can save businesses even more money.

There are three service categories available through Priority Mail:

  • Priority Mail Flat Rate®: priced by predefined package type and ideal for shipping dense packages long distances
  • Priority Mail Regional Rate®: priced by box size and destination and ideal for shipping dense packages short distances
  • Priority Mail (Zone-based pricing): priced by weight, size and distance and ideal for shipping lightweight packages

All of the above-mentioned services come without the surcharges private carriers tend tack on for residential delivery and fuel. FedEx and UPS also use dimensional weight pricing, which can make shipping through USPS even more cost effective. Here’s one example of how you’ll save when shipping via USPS Priority Mail (Zone-based pricing) versus the private carriers:

Chart comparing USPS Priority Mail with Ground Service rates

Let’s take a look at the particulars of each of these Priority Mail categories.

Priority Mail Flat Rate

The USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate service offers a pre-priced shipping cost based on the box or envelope size, not the weight or distance. This means that you can send an item, or items, weighing up to 70 pounds anywhere in the U.S. for a flat rate – as long as it fits in the USPS packaging. The USPS has several sizes of flat rate boxes and envelopes with a range of affordable prices. This option is best for businesses selling compact yet heavy items, and also for when you want to include multiple items in a single shipment.

Priority Mail Regional Rate

Where Priority Mail Flat Rate pricing is based solely on what packaging you use to ship, Priority Mail Regional Rate pricing is based on both your box size and its destination. Regional Rate boxes come in two types. Boxes A and B both have two unique configurations (each offer a top-loading and side-loading option), so shippers can select the size and shape that best suits their needs. The boxes do have weight limits, but they’re generous and tend to satisfy most shippers—the Box A weight limit is 15 pounds and the Box B limit is 20 pounds. Because pricing is determined by both box size and destination, this option is best for businesses shipping shorter distances.

Priority Mail (Zone-based pricing)

Did you know Priority Mail also offers benefits and cost-saving opportunities for businesses that need to use a wider range of packaging than what’s available through Priority Mail Regional Rate and Priority Mail Flat Rate? All other Priority Mail pricing is based on the weight of the package and the distance (or Zones) it will travel. If you’re shipping items that won’t fit into Flat Rate or Regional Rate boxes, you can still get the benefits of Priority Mail through this option. The USPS does offer free packaging for these types of shipments, too (look for USPS boxes without the words “Flat Rate” or “Regional Rate”—this shoe box is one example).

Cubic pricing

If your e-commerce business ships more than 50,000 small, heavy packages a year (think paperweights or hardcover books), you’ll want to take a look at USPS Cubic Pricing via Priority Mail for additional savings. Learn more about cubic pricing, and determine if you qualify, here.

What’s best for your business?

Shippers (who don’t qualify for cubic pricing) should evaluate when Priority Mail shipping based on Zones might be more cost-effective than Priority Mail Flat Rate or Priority Mail Regional Rate. For instance, if you have a 1 to 3 pound package going to Zones 1 or 2, Zone-based pricing will cost less than a Small Flat Rate Box. Download our “Understanding your Priority Mail Options” brochure to view current pricing and cost comparison between Priority Mail service categories.

About Endicia
Endicia is a leading provider of internet-based postage services that make it easier and more affordable to ship parcels through the U.S. Postal Service®. We know that shipping can be complex and our goal is to simplify your shipping operations so you can focus on doing what you do best. Visit us at endicia.com  to learn more.

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