When you need to ship items, you have a lot of options. In many cases, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the most obvious choice, but it's not always the best choice. Many privately owned and operated shipping services like Federal Express (FedEx) and United Parcel Service (UPS) offer similar services and in some cases services not offered by the larger delivery companies.
There are a lot of companies that have similar business models to UPS and FedEx. Some of these are nearly as large as UPS and FedEx, such as DHL. Others are considerably smaller, such as Prime, Inc. Although these businesses are like FedEx and UPS in that they also provide shipping services, there are many differences between them, such as their shipping territories and the number of owner-operators they contract versus drivers they employ.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Similar shipping companies include DHL, which ships internationally, and smaller local companies.
Other Shipping Companies
There are many parcel services like UPS and FedEx in operation. Some, including DHL, ship internationally. Others, generally smaller local and regional shipping companies, only deliver packages within the United States or even within their own regions. A few of the most well-known delivery companies like FedEx and UPS are:
- A.P. Moller — Maersk
- Mediterranean Shipping Company
- TFI International
- Parcel Monkey
Not all shipping companies are large international brands like DHL and TFI International. A shipping company can be one person with a utility van doing same-day deliveries within her city or a small company of a few owner-operators working together to ship items. Some shipping companies have narrow niches serving only one specific industry. These companies might do so by providing services and equipment that companies in that industry need, such as refrigerated trucks for perishable food deliveries.
Services Delivery Companies Provide
To make themselves attractive options, delivery companies often offer services and upgrades. These services and options include:
- Saturday and Sunday delivery
- Free package pickup
- Expedited shipping
- Shipping insurance
- Negotiable pricing
- Bulk shipping
- Package tracking
- Delivery to PO boxes
- International shipping
USPS offers some of these services as well, like package tracking and shipping insurance. Under certain circumstances, one or more of these services might make a certain shipping company your top or even only choice. For example, if you operate an e-commerce store and need to ship a large number of items, Parcel Monkey’s bulk shipping service and easy integration with e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Shopify might make it the most attractive option even if it's not the most inexpensive.
Choosing Between Shipping Companies
Never assume that the largest shipping company is the one that offers the best rate. To find the best shipping rate, it’s always necessary to compare multiple companies side by side and to include USPS in that comparison. When comparing shipping companies, you’ll find that certain ones are better than others for certain types of packages, but there's no universally superior option. For example, USPS generally offers the lowest rates for small packages but can be more expensive than private companies for larger packages and doesn't offer the same services and benefits these other companies offer.
Beyond the prices offered, other considerations when choosing between delivery companies like FedEx and UPS are the services they offer. Package tracking is a fairly standard feature to offer, but some companies offer more accurate tracking than others. In many cases, choosing the right shipping company to handle your package requires consideration of the cost of shipping your item alongside the benefits and drawbacks of each service. Though it might be more expensive to ship with a certain provider, like UPS, it might be worthwhile to do so in your case because of the services UPS offers.
Lindsay Kramer has been a full-time writer since 2014. In that time, she's experienced the ups, downs and crazy twists life tends to take when you're launching, building and leading a small business. As a small business owner, her favorite aspect about writing in this field is helping other small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs become more fluent in the terminology and concepts they face in this role. Previously, she's written on entrepreneurship for 99designs and covered business law topics for law firms.