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Open your browser. Google shipping. There are more than 2,000,000,000 results trying to tell you how to ship your packages. But you simply want them to be delivered to your customers safe and sound. Choosing a shipping partner can be painful. With a wrong one, your customers may suffer a poor shopping experience and you could end up more than just unprofitable. Just imagine how your customer would feel if his package arrived all messed up and damaged. Or an adorable kid who has been waiting for his Christmas presents which were long lost in transit. With Circle.us, you don’t have to choose. We will choose for you and we only give what is best for you.

Apart from trying to create the best shopping experience for their customers, eCommerce entrepreneurs are ceaselessly seeking the most cost-effective solution for their business. To help them find the best solution, some postage service providers and carriers offer their shipping opinions on shipping rates comparison. But not all of them are impartial. Like INVESTIGATE YOUR SHIPPING MIX IN 2016 from Endicia, it seems the best solution is through USPS. But note this. They compare their discounted shipping rates with published rates (without discount) of FedEx and UPS.

Having a discounted FedEx or UPS account is not easy but definitely not impossible. By contacting their logistic experts, UPS Solutions offer 18% off air and international shipping and 9% off ground. That is, if you qualify. I can only begin to imagine the long-hour meetings and all the paperwork. The whole process would be time-consuming and tiresome. I assume FedEx has the same solution. But to a growing business, that is just too late and too little. Here at Circle.us, we did all the job for you, one account, one bill, all carriers with discounts up to 54% off air, 44% off ground and 78.5 % off international shipping.

In this post, we will go over the commitment of all three major carriers (FedEx, UPS and USPS), compare their shipping rates, and discuss some of the tips to choose a better shipping service, ensure the safe arrival of packages and work out a solution for situations caused by unfortunate inconvenience.

Commitments of FedEx, UPS and USPS

Sometimes customers buying online can be demanding. Their increasing expectations grow and they want it all and they want it now. Meeting their demands means knowing which shipping service to choose.

Here is a quick comparison of commitments of the three major carriers. It may give you a brief idea of how to fulfill your customers’ expectations.

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UPS Ground promises "day-definite delivery typically in 1 to 5 days" to all 50 states and Puerto Rico, whereas FedEx Home Delivery promises shipment in 1 to 5 business days within the contiguous United States and 3 to 7 business days to and from Alaska and Hawaii but with the convenience of delivery on Saturdays. Priority Mail Express is the United States Post Office’s version of next day delivery except that it isn’t always next day. Unlike FedEx and UPS which guarantees next day delivery, USPS will take 1-2 business days depending on location. However, Priority Mail Express does provide free pickup service.

Comparison of Shipping Rates

Effective January 17, all three major carriers have raised their shipping rates. FedEx and UPS rate changes include an increase in fuel and residential surcharges. Still, FedEx and UPS dimensional weight pricing is in effect for all Ground shipments. USPS has implemented some adjustments where several shipping products and services were impacted. For example, Priority Mail Express will see an average rate increase of 15.6% in 2016; After three years without a shipping rate increase, Priority Mail will see an average rate increase of 9.4%; First Class Package Service will see an average rate increase of 12.8%. It is high time we re-evaluate our current shipping solution and instead of having one shipping partner, having several shipping partners seems to be the wise choice.

Statistics from Circle.us have witnessed 83% of our users have 2 shipping partners, 9% have all three shipping partners and only 8% choose to have one.

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With our deeply discounted shipping services we also developed a shipping rate comparison chart including all three major carriers to help you discover a better solution for your business.

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For more detailed rates, please visit our Rates Calculator.

Circle.us will not just offer low shipping rates. We also offer some shipping advice from our encounter with both our users and carriers. You will find some of them very helpful.

Tips for Shipping

Packaging

Conventionally, packaging is to shield the product inside from any harm. Over time, eCommerce has injected it with a new meaning---marketing. Some say the best way of marketing is to show your customers that you care. I believe the simplest way to do that is through packaging when it comes to eCommerce.

When customers receive their products, they expect more than just a brown box. What’s inside that box could be a beautiful dress they browse for days or the latest model of iPhone. In some way, they don’t just expect a box of protection. They expect a good presentation or rather a good online shopping experience.

But as eCommerce entrepreneurs, let’s not forget the basic role of packaging while marketing products through it. Packaging is for protection. Customers will not have a satisfying shopping experience if their products arrive damaged. Many carriers provide packaging guidelines on their websites. Here are the general guidelines from FedEx and UPS. Hope they can be of some help to you.

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Ship Lightweight Packages

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If you have packages whose weight is less than 16 oz., do not bother shipping with other carriers. USPS First-Class Package Service will be your most suitable choice. USPS First Class Package Service is a fast, cost-effective way to ship lightweight packages weighing up to 15.99 ounces to any U.S. destination. Deliveries can be shipped to any U.S. address, PO Box, and many APO/FPO/DPO destinations. USPS Tracking is included for free and the USPS offers several package pick-up programs. Here is a rate comparison chart from Circle.us for a package across 8 zones, dimension of 8*6*4 inches, actual weight of 12 oz.
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There is another USPS package service similar to First-Class---Media Mail. Media Mail is a cost-effective way to send media materials through the U.S. Postal Service. You can send books, videotapes, DVDs, CDs, printed music and other sound recordings through Media Mail as long as they weigh less than 70 pounds. But here is a reminder. If you ship media materials less than 8 ounces, it will be less expensive for you to ship your item using First-Class Mail.

Watch out for Additional Charges

Additional Handling

Most people believe packages over 70 lbs will incur additional handling surcharge but what most people don’t know is that weight is not the only factor. Since USPS shipments can’t exceed 70 lbs and in most cases, the maximum combined length and girth is 108 inches, there won’t be any additional handling surcharge. An Additional Handling charge of $10.5 per package will be assessed for any package that requires special handling, as determined by FedEx and UPS in their sole discretion, including but not limited to:

  • Any package with an actual weight of more than 70 pounds.
  • Any package with the longest side exceeding 60 inches (48 inches for Ground packages).
  • Any package with its second-longest side exceeding 30 inches.
  • Any article that is encased in an outside shipping container made of metal or wood.
  • Any cylindrical-like item, such as a barrel, drum, pail or tire, that is not fully encased in a corrugated cardboard shipping container.

An effective way to avoid such charge is to pack your products in several packages instead of just one, if possible.

Large Package Surcharge

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Residential Delivery Charge

A residential delivery charge applies to shipments to a home or private residence, including locations where a business is operated from a home, or to any shipment in which the shipper has designated the delivery address as a residence. This charge will not apply to USPS shipments. Here is a listing for applicable services and charges.

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Pay attention to FedEx Ground and Home Delivery Services. FedEx Ground is designated for commercial addresses while Home Delivery for residential addresses. But if the delivery address happens to be residential, the Residential Charge will be $3.65, unlike UPS Ground, the Residential Charge being $3.25. So before you decide to ship a package with FedEx Ground Services, perform an address check to make sure whether the delivery address is commercial or residential. Luckily for you, Circle.us will automatically perform the address check while you are creating a shipment.

Delivery Area Surcharge

A surcharge applies to each package delivered to certain ZIP Codes within the 48 contiguous states. Those ZIP Codes are either less populated or less accessible than others and carry a higher operating cost. Refer to UPS applicable ZIP Codes and FedEx applicable ZIP Codes. If the delivery address zip code is in the listing, most likely Delivery Area Surcharge(DAS) will apply. You will find the applicable services and charges in the chart below. This Surcharge does not apply to USPS shipments.

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Address Correction

If any shipment has an incorrect or incomplete address, FedEx or UPS will make reasonable efforts to secure the correct or complete address, and will make available to the shipper the correct address. They may also correct or complete an address based on information obtained from the shipper or consignee. An Address Correction charge of $13 per package will be assessed to the shipper for an address correction or completion. The maximum charges are $91 per shipment.

To avoid this surcharge, make sure you have the correct and complete delivery address and if the address is a P.O. box number or P.O. box ZIP code, do NOT use FedEx or UPS. For USPS shipments, changing delivery address is nearly impossible.

However, address correction or rerouting does’t have to be necessary. Have you caught in a situation where your customers cancelled their orders and the packages were already in transit? What did you do? Rushed to ask the carriers to return them? Here I am gonna tell you DON’T. If you ask to return them then, you will pay an extra address correction fee plus the shipping charges for the return. If the receiver refuses it upon delivery, only the return shipping charges will apply. With the signature and insurance and a sufficient supply of the product, you can save $13 per package and rest assured.

Saturday Delivery

We all know carriers provide Saturday Delivery service. But do we have to pay extra fees to receive packages on Saturdays? Negative. USPS provides delivery service Monday through Saturday as well as FedEx Home Delivery without extra charges. You can receive packages on Saturdays by using those shipping services, like the sweet dream just come true.

For time-critical shipments, Saturday Delivery is available for the following services, with an additional charges of $16 per package.

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Signature

Signature is a very effective way to ensure your packages to arrive safely to your customers, which can also be the proof of delivery. You will find it incredibly useful in situations like A-Z claims. The three carriers provide several delivery signature options, which can be vey confusing sometimes. Here I am gonna elaborate and compare them to give you a better idea of what they are all about.

  • Delivery Confirmation- Only available with UPS. Confirmation of delivery is sent by mail, and includes the delivery date, either the name of the recipient or the package disposition, and in the event of a return, the reason for the return. Similar information, including the ability to view a signature, is available for no charge when you track your package at UPS.com and click on the Proof of Delivery link. There is no need to pay for it when you can easily acquire the Proof of Delivery online.
  • Signature Required(Or Direct Signature Required)- Available with both UPS and FedEx. Someone at the recipient’s address may sign for the delivery. If no one is at the address, FedEx or UPS will reattempt the delivery.
  • Adult Signature Required- Available with both UPS and FedEx. FedEx or UPS will obtain a signature from someone at the delivery address who is at least 21 years old and present government-issued photo identification. If there is no eligible recipient at the address, they will reattempt the delivery.
  • Indirect signature required- Only available with FedEx Home Delivery. FedEx may release the package in one of three ways. 1) Obtaining a signature from someone at the delivery address. 2) Acquiring a signature from a neighbor, building manager, or other person at a neighboring address. 3) Gaining authorization from the recipient to release the package without anyone present. Since FedEx can release the package without anyone present, sometimes this signature option is considered unreliable.

As for the Signature fees, please find the chart below. In the chart, you will find the current per-package charge for different signature options.

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With FedEx, The Direct Signature Required Option will automatically be applied to packages that have a declared value equal to or greater than $500. Direct Signature Required fees will not apply for those packages, which means with $500 declared value you can save money for signature.

Circle.us knows the importance of signature especially to valuable products. That is why we offer free signature for all UPS services with no attachments and restrictions.

Since USPS Signature options are not so thought highly of. Here I will only present you one signature option—Signature Confirmation.

  • Purchase online or at your Post Office depending on the mail class chosen.
  • Limited availability to APO/FPO/DPO locations and certain Freely Associated States.
  • $2.90 at a Post Office, $2.35 paid online.

Insurance

If you think free signature is all we can think of for you, think again. We also offer low-rate insurance—Circle.us insurance. At the rate of $0.45 per $100, you will find it considerably affordable for your valuable products. For more details, please refer to How does Circle.us insurance work.

We also developed an insurance limitation chart to help you figure out how much you can insure for a single package.

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As far as USPS insurance is concerned, suffice to say ‘time-consuming’ is just one way to describe it, which is why we do not provide online USPS insurance purchasing. However, Circle.us insurance is alway available with FedEx, UPS and USPS.

Claims

After you hand over your packages to your trusted shipping partners, they are no longer in your control. Even though your shipping partners are trying their best to deal with your packages as cautiously as possible, some unfortunate situations are just inevitable. When damage or loss occurs, the top priority for you is to send a replacement to your customer and report it to corresponding carrier. Basically, the following supporting documents are needed.

  • Shipping label
  • Proof of damage(such as photos)
  • Proof of Value(such as an invoice)

However, even at this point, you can still save money for the damaged packages. For example, when a customer contacts you about a damaged package, your first job is to send a replacement and tell him to keep the damaged package intact and wait for carrier’s inspection. In the meanwhile, contact the carrier and inform them of the damage. The damaged package will be picked up from the receiver’s and after the inspection it will be returned directly to you. Now see how it works. You just saved a return label and save the product from further damage.

At Circlce.us , you don’t have to worry about claims. All claims will be handled professionally by our agents.

Conclusion

There are also some other tricks to save unnecessary costs. Circle.us is dedicated to helping you save money and spare you the trouble of choosing. Together we can achieve the same goal of creating the best experience for our customers.

If you want to know more about Circle.us, you are just one click away from being one of our users. Click here to sign up for our services. Should you have any questions, please contact our Customer Service for further assistance.

Ship with Circle.us. Ship without barrier.