UPS vs. USPS: Which is better for your eCommerce store?

Each carrier has competitive advantages to meet the needs of both buyers and sellers.
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Last update:

June 22, 2023

There is nothing more satisfying than getting your eCommerce business set up and generating your first sales. 

Setting up an eCommerce store is not as difficult as it used to be. Using platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and others, you will get all the technical support you need to get your store built up and ready to launch. However, in order to maintain sales, you need to deliver the products to your customers effectively. 

Choosing the right shipping carriers is not easy.

It’s probably one of the most complicated tasks for eCommerce sellers, because there are many carrier options out there. However, the United States Postal Service(USPS) and UPS(United Parcel Service) are two of the major and most reliable carriers in the United States.

Obviously, choosing the right carriers can help you increase your profits by 25% to 35%. 

ShipSaving is a multi-carrier shipping software designed for making sure that eCommerce sellers are able to choose the carrier that is better suited to the products they sell and size of the business they are running.

This is the solution that offers the perfect combination of efficiency and cost effectiveness.


Each carrier has competitive advantages and tries to fulfill customer satisfaction by meeting the needs and expectations of both buyers and sellers.

One example, USPS’ Priority Mail service offers 1-3 days delivery. Compared with that, UPS offers competitively priced Ground services. It also offers SurePost service to better deliver final packages to residences.

It’s hard to find a winner between these two top carriers. So we will dig deeper into where each of them wins.

USPS is cost-effective and ideal for small packages.

Many people have the inherent notion that USPS is not well suited for businesses.

However, this is not entirely true. USPS has significantly improved its eCommerce services. As a result, they have focused on offering low prices for lighter weight products, as these are the products more often ordered from online retailers.

For any package weighing less than 2 lb, you will actually find USPS to be the cheapest shipping service. And, there really is no comparison in the case of packages.

It's true that USPS has worked to ensure that it is a low-cost carrier. But now they are also working to improve delivery times. Their Priority Mail has been successful in improving efficiency. It allows USPS to provide delivery date estimates based on time zones.

UPS is the first choice for eCommerce business

There is no doubt that UPS is considered the leader in the logistics industry.

If you have many packages weighing 21lb or more, UPS would be the ideal solution.

Guess what: Rates are not fixed. At ShipSaving, you can get discounted UPS rates up to 66%, no volume required.

Please be sure to compare the final price with the USPS price, as the UPS surcharge is added to the base price. But while there may be more costs involved than with USPS, you can be sure not to miss delivery times. Therefore, packages with time constraints need to be offered through UPS.

It also offers an innovative method of tracking. Text messages providing package updates are provided to customers. Please note that UPS does not offer any free package pickup service.

How to choose your carrier

It all depends on your products:

  • The average weight of the shipments
  • The maximum and minimum weight of the shipments
  • The type of box used for packaging
  • The dimension of the merchandise

Of course, distance also plays an important role. For lightweight products, the right option might be USPS First-Class Mail service. As we mentioned before, the cost-effective service offered by USPS is ideal if you want to send items without time constraints.

UPS also offers a cheap service with its SurePost service. Again, this is useful for inexpensive packages with no time constraints. Most importantly, delicate, valuable and time-sensitive items need to be sent via UPS.

Advantages of USPS

  • For lighter packages weighing up to 2 lb, USPS is the right choice. It can help you save a lot. Therefore, if you are offering products such as lotions, shampoos, other cosmetics or skin care products, it is more profitable to use the government-run USPS delivery service.
  • If you are sending mail worldwide, UPS is a better choice because you can rely on its reliable delivery. You don't want to take any risks with international deliveries. UPS takes greater responsibility for delivery accuracy.
  • For larger products, UPS is always better because the cost savings for smaller products via USPS add up to a greater or lesser extent for heavier products. 

Disadvantages of USPS?

If you send time-sensitive packages, those that absolutely need to reach your customers within a specified time, such as overnight, you should choose UPS because USPS does not guarantee delivery times at all times.

Their practice is to refund postage if they fail to send a package on time. However, the claims process is not time owned by eCommerce businesses and when they want to exceed customer expectations and build a reputation, it is smarter to use UPS for time-sensitive deliveries.

Advantages of UPS

UPS tracks almost everything through its GPS system, so you can know exactly where your products are in transit. Its packages and trucks are GPS-enabled. Aspects such as when a driver turns off the engine in a truck, when a driver leaves the truck, and so on are recorded.

All this advanced technology helps increase accountability. Drivers are also rated based on their efficiency. So when you have very important, large and very expensive items, you will ensure that these items reach your customers on time.  

Disadvantages of UPS

It is more expensive than the government-run USPS. If your eCommerce business involves smaller items, especially those under 2 lb, and you don't have a time limit on packages sent to your customers, then you won't be tempted to try UPS. In addition, it has a base price surcharge and additional fees.

Small and medium sized businesses do need to save money, which makes USPS a good choice. Customer satisfaction is also important at this stage, as it builds reputation and increases your business.

As you continue to grow and look to exceed your customers' expectations, it is inevitable that you will resort to UPS. It may be more expensive and the base price will add a surcharge, but as mentioned earlier, you can always negotiate the delivery price.

Always remember: don't compromise on efficiency.  

Written on:

July 29, 2021
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