What Is Expedited Shipping

What is expedited shipping? Which carriers offer this kind of service? Read more below.

Expedited shipping is an option that many people consider when they need to send packages quickly – especially businesses. However, not everyone is familiar with this kind of delivery or understands what it is.


Expedited shipping is faster than standard shipping. The speed can vary from courier to courier, but in general, it will take between 1 and 2 working days. Often, the vehicle carrying the package will take it straight to its destination without stopping, and may have two drivers in order to undertake this safely.


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What Is Expedited Shipping?


Expedited shipping simply means that it’s faster, but with most couriers, it means shipping that takes 1 to 3 business days at the most, and sometimes less. Most couriers will offer expedited shipping options so that they can meet their customers’ demands.


Several different kinds of delivery fall into the category of “expedited shipping.” If you use next-day delivery, express delivery, or same-day delivery, you are using expedited shipping. In general, the delivery company will be aiming to reach the destination as soon as possible.


How soon this is depends on the company and how far you are sending the item. Some companies offer overnight delivery or delivery by 1 PM or delivery by 9 AM – it just depends on what service you choose and which company you are using.


As an example, USPS’s Priority Mail Express (their fastest service) will arrive by 3 PM within 1 or 2 working days. Other couriers may deliver by the next day, depending on the situation, so choose your courier with care if you need quick delivery.


Is Expedited Shipping Expensive?


Yes, expedited shipping options do tend to be expensive. That’s because the company has to sacrifice efficiency for speed. It cannot carry as many packages while carrying expedited ones, and may have to make long trips with no economies of scale.


When a company carries a lot of packages, it can afford to make a low margin on each – so when they are only able to carry one or two packages, they need to charge significantly more. That means that the costs of expedited shipping can sometimes be very high, even if the item you are sending is only small.


You should therefore be prepared to pay a lot more if you wish to send something more quickly, regardless of which shipping company you use.




How Fast Is Expedited Shipping?


We’ve established that it’s fast, but how fast? The answer is that it depends on the company, the service you choose, and how long it would take if you selected standard shipping. The last of those might surprise you, but if your package would usually take a week to ship, it won’t get there in a day even with expedited shipping.


The further you send something, the longer it will take, no matter what shipping method you pay for. For example, if your package would usually arrive within about 6 to 7 days, it will probably take 3 to 5 days with expedited shipping. If your package would usually arrive within 3 to 5 days, it will probably take 1 to 2 days.


If you are sending packages within the US, you will usually be able to purchase expedited shipping options that will take 1 day or even arrive on the same day (although same-day delivery tends to be very expensive).


Internationally, things will take longer, but there are still some speedy options. DHL will ship to many countries within 1 to 2 business days, although not every country (and again, distance makes a difference).


UPS also provides fast international shipping to many different countries with guaranteed delivery dates, and FedEx provides an overnight pickup service that ships internationally and delivers the following day.


It’s pretty impressive to imagine that this can occur at a national and international level. If you need things to arrive quickly, you have a lot of options.


How Much Time Does Expedited Shipping Usually Save?


It can vary, but on the whole, expedited shipping will take 1 or 2 days off the normal delivery time that would be achieved by standard shipping. That could be significant for time-sensitive items or documents.


It’s also worth noting that a lot of online shoppers like to use expedited shipping to receive their items quickly – so you should definitely consider this shipping method if you are running an ecommerce business. Not all customers will pay for a faster delivery option, but many will.


Should I Use Expedited Shipping?


Not everyone needs to use expedited shipping; it is more expensive and often unnecessary, especially if it only saves a day or two. If you don’t need it, standard shipping is a cheaper option.


However, there are many instances in which those 2 days could make a big difference, and if you are offering products to customers, you might benefit from at least giving them the option of expedited shipping.


A lot of customers are happy to pay the extra for expedited shipping in order to receive their items more quickly, and businesses that don’t at least offer the option may miss out on sales. It’s often a good idea to allow customers to upgrade their shipping if they pay extra, as this can draw in more customers.


You might get those who are looking for a last-minute birthday or Christmas gift, people who need your items for an urgent project, or just those who don’t like waiting for shipping. As long as they are paying the difference, offering expedited shipping is a great way to cater to your customers’ needs.


usps tracking notification


What Else Comes With Expedited Shipping?


Although it will vary depending on the company, you usually get a few other benefits when you use expedited shipping services. For example, most will come with a tracking number and with insurance up to a certain value.


This is another great reason for ecommerce businesses to explore expedited shipping. Being able to provide your customers with tracking numbers helps to cut down on the amount of time you need to spend fielding questions about your shipping. Your customers can check where the package has got to for themselves.


The insurance is also useful for many businesses, even if the items you are sending aren’t enormously valuable. It’s still useful to be able to make a claim when something goes missing – and it’s also less likely that this will happen with a tracked option.


This should cut down on unhappy customers whose items have gone missing, and on stock lost. Overall, this could improve both your business reputation and your margins.


Of course, the disadvantage of offering expedited shipping is that you need to implement multiple shipping options at the checkout and it’s more work for whoever is handling the packages – because they need to make sure that the right ones get sent with an expedited service.


However, this additional complexity is often worth the benefits offered by providing expedited shipping.


How Much Does Expedited Shipping Cost?


The cost will vary enormously from courier to courier, and depends heavily on what you are sending, where, and how fast you want it to be shipped. However, be aware that it usually costs significantly more than standard shipping because of the logistics involved and increased costs for the delivery company.


Below are a few examples of the prices you might expect to pay for expedited shipping using the various couriers:


  • USPS Priority Mail Express costs from $26.95
  • FedEx 2Day costs from $19.11
  • UPS 2nd Day Air costs from $19.30


These prices are liable to change as time passes and the companies update their offerings, but they should give you an idea of how expensive expedited shipping can be – because these are the lowest cost options, for small and lightweight packages.


It’s therefore important to think about whether the cost of expedited shipping is justified, and to choose your courier with care. Bigger and heavier packages will cost a lot more to ship, particularly if they are traveling long distances. International expedited shipping can be prohibitively expensive.


fedex & ups truck at the side of the road


Which Couriers Offer Expedited Shipping?


Almost all couriers in the US will have some expedited shipping options, because many people need to send packages swiftly at some time or another. It is therefore in the couriers’ interests to provide such services as cheaply as they can.


You will find that all the major couriers, including UPS, DHL, FedEx, and USPS offer various expedited shipping options, often including 2-day delivery, 1-day delivery, and overnight shipping. This helps them to cater to both businesses and individuals, and attracts customers.


Is Overnight Shipping A Good Option?


Overnight shipping is a good option if you need an item to arrive fast, but it can be seriously expensive. It involves the courier getting the package from you to its destination within just a few hours.


This involves a lot of challenges for the delivery company, plus costs like short-haul flights (if the package is going far enough to require air travel to arrive on time). They may need to pay for multiple drivers to prevent the vehicle from having to stop, and the package might need to travel on multiple planes.


It is therefore pretty pricey to send packages using overnight shipping, and it’s usually best to do this only when necessary. For most packages, the other expedited shipping options should be cheaper than overnight, and still be sufficiently swift.


business owner holding a smart device


How Can Businesses Keep Expedited Shipping Costs Low?


If you want to offer expedited shipping but you are worried about the costs, here are a few ideas of things you might want to try.


Charge The Customer


It may seem obvious, but you shouldn’t pay for expedited shipping yourself. Pass this cost or at least the bulk of it on to your customers so that you aren’t spending money unnecessarily. Offering standard shipping for free is sometimes a good idea, but if customers want to speed things up, they should pay the difference.


Check Out Different Couriers


Find out which couriers offer the cheapest rates for the packages you most commonly send. Make sure you shop around every so often to ensure you are still getting the best deal.


This gets more complicated if you have multiple packages of different sizes to send, as different couriers will offer different deals. Don’t make your shipping process too complicated to handle – you are best sticking with just two or three couriers at most, or you may find that you make mistakes.


You might therefore only want to offer expedited shipping on certain items, or for certain zones. This may help to keep things simpler. However, if you have a lot of customers further afield, it might be worth looking into expedited options even if this is more complicated. You will need to calculate the reward vs the complexity.


Use Flat Rate Boxes


A lot of couriers offer a flat rate service, which lets you mail items at a fixed rate regardless of the zone. If you are sending items over long distances, this will usually offer you the best deal. Make sure you’ve checked what the non-flat rate is before using it, though, as flat rate will cost more for local deliveries.


You do need to check that your items will fit in the flat rate boxes, of course, so explore what the different couriers offer and choose whichever suits your business best. You might also want to bundle items that will go neatly into one of these boxes to make the shipping more efficient.


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If you’re looking to make your reception of packages more straightforward so you can make the most of expedited shipping and never miss a delivery, you might want to consider getting a Virtual Mailbox from US Global Mail. This provides a secure address where you can have packages dropped off at any time.


The package will be scanned and an image of the outside uploaded to an email notification. You can then have the package forwarded to you as necessary. All the couriers will deliver to a virtual mailbox – unlike a PO box, which only USPS will deliver items to – so it’s an ideal option for many people.

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