UPS came to existence in 1907, whereas, both USPS and FedEx were founded later in the year 1971. But even after so many years, USPS covers more ground in the U.S than UPS and FedEx. And to your luck, they still offer the cheapest deals when shipping small items within the U.S. In fact, the prices are so cheap, they no longer have to invest in advertisements anymore.
If you’re waiting for a following ‘but’, well, here it comes—USPS services are really slow, especially when attempting the final deliveries. There have been many cases where they have either misplaced your parcel or caused damage to a certain extent. This has given them a bad image and makes them highly unreliable. Even if they give you an estimate of 2-3 days, you can expect a delay of seven days.
So what should you do in this case? If you turn your head to UPS or FedEx, they are going to charge you more. No doubt they are way more reliable than USPS, but that doesn’t mean you should simply throw in your money—there’s a grey area where you operate.
In this article, I am going to compare two special shipping services—UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost. You will also see how these services can be used on your WooCommerce store with the help of two amazing plugins—WooCommerce FedEx Shipping and WooCommerce UPS Shipping.
So let’s get cracking!
UPS and FedEx integration with USPS
Yes, you heard that right. If you want to save money on shipping but still want to use UPS and FedEx, you have the UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost on the plate. Basically, these special services are consolidated delivery services that rely on the logistics provided by UPS, FedEx, and USPS. To break it down, these services will extensively use the logistics from UPS and FedEx, while using USPS for the final delivery to your customer.
There are a few things that surround both the SurePost and SmartPost services. Firstly, they are available to businesses (both online and offline) that ship at least 50 packages every week. If you already have been doing that or think you can meet this requirement, then you should definitely go with you. Secondly, you need to contact someone from the company (of course, FedEx for SmartPost, and UPS for SurePost) and basically ask them to enable the service for your account.
Benefits of using UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost
There are a ton of benefits that come by when using this consolidated solution. Let’s try going through some of the most important ones.
Reduced shipping costs
Probably the only reason why you would be interested in this solution—you want to save money on shipping. And that is indeed true; the pricing is lower compared to the prices provided by the conventional Ground services (UPS Ground and FedEx Ground) provided by both the carriers.
You might know this, the most expensive part of the delivery process is when UPS and FedEx reach your customer’s front door with their delivery vehicle. This includes the cost of tracking the delivery area and other residential area surcharges, which will be later added to the base ground rates. But with the consolidated services, the situation is a bit different.
The additional prices are eliminated by the SurePost and SmartPost services as the packages are passed on to the local USPS office branch. USPS is then responsible for handling the final delivery. So it’s not the couriers who carry the packages to the final destination, and thus, there is a huge drop in the prices.
Easy integration with your WooCommerce
WooCommerce is really the best eCommerce platform available out there. There are some amazing plugins that make difficult processes like shipping quite easy. The WooCommerce UPS Shipping and WooCommerce FedEx Shipping plugins are the two ultimate solutions that provide the SurePost and SmartPost services respectively. You can configure the plugin and allow the USPS consolidated services appear on both the Cart and Checkout pages. Let’s have a detailed look.
In order to keep things simple, we will take the example of WooCommerce UPS Shipping plugin as both of them (WooCommerce FedEx Shipping plugin) function roughly the same and the savings should be similar. UPS SurePost shipping rates, generally, are equivalent to the ground rates. In the plugin settings page, you can enable the SurePost services as shown in the image below.
Now let’s go ahead and try getting the shipping rates for an item that weighs 1 Lb. We will compare the UPS SurePost rates with the UPS Ground rates for the addresses in Florida and New York.
In the image above, you can see the shipping rate for UPS Ground is $13.64 while for the UPS SurePost is $10.52. There is a huge price difference ($3.12) because of the USPS shipping service coming into the play.
Now let’s take another example where we compare the shipping rates between the addresses in Florida and California.
Again, there’s a huge price difference and the exact value is $3.12.
No additional charges for Saturday deliveries
As you already know, both UPS and FedEx will charge a lot for delivering packages on Saturdays while there’s no such thing with USPS as there’s no surcharge cost. Which is why these consolidated services have been introduced—to save money on shipping. Thus, a package that UPS or FedEx would normally wait until Monday to deliver might actually show up earlier than expected and on a Saturday.
Use normal pickups
With these services, there’s no need for multiple trips to the post office. Both UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost are services of UPS and FedEx, respectively. You can mix the boxes in with your normal daily pickup.
If you go to the plugin settings of both the plugins, you should be able to see the area where you can define the pickup requests. Have a look at the image of WooCommerce FedEx shipping, for example.
As you can see here, you can define a different pickup address (maybe your warehouse or a third-party location), mention the Pickup start and Company close timings, and also select the pickup service.
Track packages on the UPS and FedEx websites
While the shipping labels will actually contain two tracking numbers, one for the ground carrier and another for USPS, you only have to provide the UPS or FedEx tracking number to your customer. With this tracking number, the customer will be able to see the progress of the shipment, regardless of the fact that the package is in the possession of the ground carrier or USPS.
Both the WooCommerce UPS and WooCommerce FedEx Shipping plugins are packed with the shipment tracking feature. So basically once you receive an order, it will go to the WooCommerce→Orders page where you should be able to see the tracking option.
And once you create the shipments, WooCommerce will trigger an email (Order completion email) which will contain the necessary tracking information along with the tracking links which will directly go to the tracking page of the individual websites.
SurePost and SmartPost shipments increase your weekly spend
UPS and FedEx determine your negotiated rates based upon your average weekly spending amount. If you increase your spending by moving services from other carriers — such as from USPS to UPS or FedEx — you could reduce all of your shipping rates.
Things to keep in mind when using UPS SurePost or FedEx SmartPost
Yes. There are a few things you should keep in mind when using any one of these consolidated services. Though they are not deal-breakers but may affect your business if not taken care of.
Delivery time is slower than ground service
The delivery time of the consolidated services is typically one or two days slower than the Ground services provided by UPS and FedEx. That’s because on the day UPS would normally be dropping the package off at your customer’s door, it is instead of dropping it off at the USPS branch nearest to the customer.
There’s, however, one important thing which you should know. FedEx SmartPost works on a consolidation model, which involves collecting packages at various consolidation sites around the U.S. and delivering them to the USPS only when it has met an unpublished volume requirement. This can result in FedEx SmartPost delivery times being more inconsistent than UPS SurePost. So you should prefer getting a UPS account, if possible.
Cannot ship outside of the United States
While you can technically use SurePost or SmartPost to ship to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, the fees are simply too high to make it worthwhile. In these cases, it is always better to ship directly through USPS or if you’re ready to pay more then surely use other services from UPS or FedEx.
You have to use your own package
Even though you have the advantage of final delivery through USPS, it will not permit you to utilize the free boxes (Pre-packed boxes prescribed by UPS and FedEx) that it provides. While UPS will deliver any box, USPS will return a misused Priority Mail box to you in most cases.
Both the WooCommerce UPS and WooCommerce FedEx Shipping plugins allow you to create your own packages. You just need to go to the plugin settings and select Pack into boxes with weights and dimensions as the Parcel Packing Method. After this, you need to define the custom box as shown below in the image.
Unified tracking sometimes causes confusion for customers
Customers are sometimes confused when UPS or FedEx hand the package off to the USPS. In the tracking details, it will indicate that the package has been delivered, often to a zip code that is different from the customer’s. So there’s a chance your business might receive a slightly higher number of customer service inquiries for your SurePost shipments.
A little more to know…
Shift packages to SurePost and SmartPost that cannot be shipped via USPS First Class Mail or in a USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope. These USPS services are a tremendous value when you consider their low costs and fast delivery times. The general rule is the shipment must weigh between 2 and 10 pounds, and it must not fit into a USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope.
And just so you know, the 11-pound mark ground services become the better value. Your experience may vary, however, so calculate your own breakpoint in this regard.
UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost can provide significant shipping savings over traditional ground services by eliminating hefty delivery area, residential, and Saturday delivery surcharges. While these services are not the answer to shipping every package, they are a compelling option for a customer who is price sensitive. However, keep in mind that they aren’t exactly time sensitive, so there’s a small disadvantage.
What you could do when implementing any one of these services to your own business, is to add it as the lowest cost delivery option at a flat rate cost. So the good news here is that promoting a flat shipping rate at the time of checkout will decrease the chances of cart abandonment.
I really hope you like this article. Do let me know in the comments below how you feel about the article. If you have any query regarding setting up shipping on your store or anything else related, then feel free to contact our customer support. They will help you set it up on your WooCommerce store.