As a business owner, particularly one who does a lot of shipping, getting the right service for the best price is paramount to your bottom line. Shipping services and prices vary greatly. Here are some pros and cons to help you make the right decision for your business.

United States Postal Service

As a government agency, USPS is tasked with providing postal services to all residents of the United States as well as providing shipping options. As a government agency, there were times when they were not motivated to offer exceptional service because they simply didn’t need to. Those times have changed.

E-commerce has proven to be one of the factors keeping the postal service competitive. USPS can often be the most cost-effective option, particularly for smaller packages. In the past, USPS was not very diligent with reliability and on-time shipments. But they have gotten far more competitive with the advent of e-commerce.

Benefits of USPS

While UPS and FedEx have surcharges for certain services, the postal system offers the same services for free. Flat rate pricing offers great options for a business that can fit products into flat-rate boxes with the added convenience of free supplies. Offering delivery to PO boxes and military addresses puts them ahead of the game if this is a factor in your company’s shipping.

Disadvantages of USPS

That being said, USPS falls short in their tracking capabilities. It’s been improved but still requires more improvement. Customer service is greatly lacking. Trying to speak to someone at your local post office is often a lesson in futility.

Bottom line: shipping via USPS is good for those who are shipping smaller and lighter shipments that don’t need a quick arrival time or tracking.


United Parcel Service, or UPS, doesn’t have the advantage of being government run and must make itself competitive in the free marketplace.

Benefits of UPS

With dozens of options for express, air, ground and freight deliveries, it offers better services and pricing for large and heavier items. If you’re shipping something in excess of two pounds, UPS is probably your best bet. UPS has great tracking services, guaranteed express shipping and no holiday peak pricing surcharges. They offer services like same-day delivery and next-day delivery. Guaranteed delivery ensures that your packages will get there on time. They also offer volume discounts.

Disadvantages of UPS

Despite their attributes, there are some drawbacks to shipping UPS. It can often be more expensive with extra fees and surcharges, particularly when shipping internationally. Scheduled pick ups are not free of charge, but it is a flat fee compared with FedEx’s charge per pound. There is also a charge for Saturday delivery.

Bottom line: shipping UPS is a good option when shipping large or heavy items or ones that need good tracking capability.


Shipping FedEx is comparable to shipping with UPS with some standout differences. It has many of the advantages of UPS such as great tracking capabilities and on-time delivery guarantees.

Benefits of FedEx

Unlike UPS, however, FedEx does offer Saturday deliveries for basic shipping services. This can make a real difference if you need to get your shipment there as soon as possible with a weekend in the way. FedEx offers competitive rates for those shipments up to 50 pounds and if you’re shipping volume, you may be able to negotiate pricing.

Disadvantages of FedEx

Unfortunately, even when you consider the variability in shipping options, FedEx trends a bit higher in shipping rates. Like UPS, it doesn’t offer free pickup. And when location is a variable, FedEx offers only 2,000 worldwide offices compared to UPS’ 5,000.

Bottom line: FedEx offers a good alternative for fast and dependable shipping with great tracking capabilities.

If you have more shipping questions or require an expert’s advice, at Philadelphia Mailroom, we are here to help. Call us at (215) 745-1100.