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Road freight does not have a good reputation in the field of logistics. But with Amazon raising the bar around fast, affordable shipping and the rapid rise of e-commerce, there are more on-demand logistics solutions than ever before, making it possible to ship customer orders quickly and affordably.
Ground Shipping Takes How Long
Traditionally, the introduction of two-day shipping was only possible with express shipping via air, which tends to be much more expensive than ground shipping.
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Fortunately, the major shipping companies and third-party logistics (3PL) companies now have the infrastructure and resources to enable two-day shipping across the land.
Road freight uses road or rail, and is the most cost-effective means of transportation for freight packages. Offering ground shipping to your customers is the most common and standard mode of domestic transportation, as it helps you reduce shipping costs and helps you provide affordable free shipping (since you are able to offset the cost when you make a minimum spend that is higher than the average order value).
In general, ground freight has a longer last-mile delivery schedule than air, but with the increase in third-party logistics or 3PL companies expanding distribution as e-commerce continues to grow, there are now more ways than ever to improve ground freight and accelerate delivery. Transit times.
For shipping across the United States, there are four major shipping companies that offer extensive coverage in the United States: USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx.
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The table below compares different pricing rates across major shippers. In terms of coverage, it should be noted that packages sent to a US location by sea are considered ground shipping for USPS and UPS. Ground shipping with USPS, DHL, FedEx, and UPS covers all US zip codes (including military addresses), plus Canada and Mexico.
These major carriers also partner with regional parcel carriers to expedite delivery across the ground. Regional carriers cover more than 85% of the US population and specialize in short distance deliveries (usually up to 500 miles but often much less).
Online shoppers are more likely to abandon their online shopping carts because delivery is so expensive. But ground shipping can help offer fast 2-day shipping at a low cost, providing an excellent shipping option.
A common misconception surrounding road freight is speed. Frequently, road freight is associated with slower travel times – and while this is true for coast-to-coast shipping, it’s not always the case. Depending on where it’s being shipped from, there are ways to take advantage of ground freight and still meet customers’ expectations for speed of delivery.
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Ground shipping is slower (and more expensive) when packages have to travel to higher shipping areas, or a mile radius from the shipping source. Zone 1 is the closest zone to the shipping center we ship from, the farther the zone, the higher the zone.
If you are shipping to an area within the same area as your warehouse, these packages can be shipped faster and more cost-effectively across the floor.
With 3PL like, you can offer faster, more affordable shipping across the land by splitting inventory across several shipping centers in different regions of the United States, allowing affordable 2-day shipping for US-based customers in those regions. All this is done without having to manage your own warehouses but by taking advantage of economies of scale.
For us, the change from a 3-week lead time to 3 days is what drove our sales. So far, one of the primary reviews we get on Etsy is, “My order arrived really fast!” Having inventory locally in the US means delivery times and shipping times are slim. , and that you’ll get higher conversion rates because we offer better lead times.”John Greenhalgh, Co-Founder of A Year of Dates
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Another hesitation related to road transport has to do with the impact on our environment. While not as bad as air freight, road transport still contributes to a business’ carbon footprint. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for e-commerce companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
Businesses can either fulfill the items themselves or outsource and still be able to opt in for eco-friendly shipping – one example is using biodegradable materials ideal for recycling or shipping a package in their own containers (known as SIOC packaging).
What’s more, partners with carbon-neutral shipping solutions, such as Ecocart so you can buy carbon credits by letting your customers choose (and pay for) carbon offsets on a per-order basis, and allowing you to offset your carbon impact from product manufacturing and last-mile delivery.
As mentioned earlier, there are several ways to take advantage of ground shipping that still meets customers’ expectations about speed, and how you set up your shipping strategy depends on where you store inventory, where your customers are, and more.
Shipping Cost Calculation: Determine National & International Shipping Rates
The first thing you need to do is choose the major shipping company(s) you want to partner with to ship packages across the ground. Here’s a deeper look at the four primary carriers that span the United States.
UPS Ground Shipping offers ground shipping in 1 to 5 days and starts at $8.76 depending on packaging and dimensions. Extra large packages can cost around $22.85 to get started. Additionally, they offer UPS ground transportation Saturday delivery, allowing you to ship to your customers over the weekend.
For example, if you’re shipping from the Chicago area via UPS, the map below shows how long it will take to ship orders across the country.
FedEx Ground offers a competitive transportation rate of 1 to 5 business days from states that share a common border, with service days Monday through Friday. They ship packages up to 150 lbs., 108″ long, and 165″ long plus girth.
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They offer competitive and cost-effective pricing (starting at around $8.90), which helps e-commerce businesses optimize shipping. The map below shows delivery times based on regions if you’re shipping from the Chicago area with FedEx.
DHL gets a little more complicated. They offer domestic shipping for customers who ship a large amount of products within the United States. Especially for e-commerce companies that ship hazardous materials, or ship across the world, DHL can be a great option.
DHL is headquartered in Germany and specializes in international freight, making it easy to send timely deliveries across countries. They also offer DHL Express Worldwide, which guarantees next day shipping to any international location (not via ground freight, of course).
To give you an idea of how DHL Ground works, you can download maps of European countries that highlight different ground shipping areas.
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USPS offers multiple shipping options. One of the most popular options is Priority Mail, which will be shipped within 1-3 business days. But for a more cost-effective (and non-urgent) delivery, USPS Retail Ground ships packages in 1-8 business days for a cheaper rate.
USPS Retail Ground rates start at $7.70. The map below shows delivery times for shipments from the Chicago area.
Partnering with all the leading road freight companies including regional carriers (and fulfilling orders for thousands of merchants across different industries and countries), makes shipping operations more efficient and affordable – whether you decide to use ground freight or different methods.
Through partnerships with all major carriers, as well as regional carriers, it negotiates discount shipping rates. This way, you can save on shipping and provide more choices for your customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
With 3PL likes, instead of storing inventory in a single warehouse, you can easily split inventory across multiple locations, which reduces transit times and enables affordable shipping across the floor.
With 3PL, you can delegate time-consuming logistics tasks to experts. Instead of investing time and money in warehousing and technology, outsource your 3PL implementation and shipping automation.
Partners with all major shipping companies to offer discounted rates, plus the opportunity to grow your distribution network across the US or even internationally.
With Logistics, you can keep logistics costs down, speed transit times, and optimize your retail supply chain with access to advanced data and analytics reporting tool to help you make better decisions.
Ups Shipping Api
With a growing network of fulfillment center locations across the US, you can easily offer 2-day shipping across the ground at an affordable price. The map below provides an overview of where our US distribution centers are located on June 3, 2021 (note: our most recent locations can be found here).
It has a global fulfillment network that makes it easy to allocate inventory based on where the greatest demand is. Based on historical demand data, you can determine the locations where inventory is stored and optimize inventory allocation, which also helps keep warehousing costs manageable.
By strategically dividing inventory across locations, you can enable 2-day shipping across the grounds for customers. As you grow your business and expand your customer reach, it provides you with insights to determine the ideal distribution across our network.
“We want the buying experience on our site to be similar to that of Amazon Prime. This is possible without inflating the cost of shipping to an insane level. To do this, we strategically position products across the country. We store inventory in three of our fulfillment centers: Moreno Valley, CA;
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