The accelerated growth of e-commerce has spoilt buyers for choice. They are being inundated with different incentives, shipping options, and customer loyalty programs across all the dominant e-commerce players. It has become crucial for anyone who is doing small business shipping to be equipped with in-depth information regarding the pros and cons of everything they want to offer to their customers.
If you want to know about Expedited Shipping in particular, given that the holiday season is approaching and you might have customers who are falling behind on their gift lists and will send in rush orders, you’re at the right place!
This handy guide will go over the nuances of expedited shipping, how you can orient it within your business model, and how expedited shipping matches up to other shipping options.
You will also be given a comprehensive list of the best expedited shipping centers, the costs associated with them, and the timelines involved. We have outlined many benefits of expedited shipping and provided a blueprint that will help you offer cost-efficient expedited shipping.
If you have any doubts beyond this wave of information, you can check out our FAQ section at the end as well!
What Does Expedited Shipping Mean?
Expedited Shipping Definition
Imagine a timeline for delivery that goes from instant delivery up to 3-7 business days. The latter is typically the time frame for Canada's Standard Shipping options (more on that below).
Expedited Shipping doesn’t have a fixed spot in this timeline. It depends largely on the shipping service provider. It can fall in the “as close to instant delivery” portion of this timeline, or it could mean overnight shipping, or even 2-day shipping if it’s not a local delivery.
In essence, it is the option that is quicker than the standard shipping option, with other options falling in its close vicinity. A store’s expedited shipping timeline might be within two days, while another courier’s might fall in the three to four days range.
What Does Expedited Shipping Mean For Your Business?
If your customer base includes overseas orders, knowing the subtle differences between Express Shipping, Expedited Shipping, Same Day Shipping, and Next Day Shipping, and how they stack up against Standard Shipping will allow you to plan the options you want to offer to your customers.
As shipping speeds increase, so do costs and the pressure on existing logistical workflows. It would be unwise to guarantee one-day delivery if the best you can complete is a two-day turnaround time.
Similarly, you would not be taking advantage of a profitable opportunity if you only offered limited delivery options. Consumers are now accustomed to having everything reach them instantly, whether it’s pizza, dates, or payments. A package should be no different.
The biggest strength of a business can be how much convenience it provides to its customers. If time is the value you want to deliver, having an expedited shipping option will unlock many customer segments.
How Fast is Expedited Shipping?
Please note that this guide is representative, and the actual timelines may vary and are specific to the service provider.
Difference between expedited and standard shipping
As mentioned earlier, expedited shipping does not indicate a set shipping speed. Customers who choose this option merely request a faster delivery time than what is offered by standard shipping.
Consider a company whose standard shipping time is 8 to 10 business days. In that case, their expedited shipping option might deliver a package within 4 to 6 business days. For another company with the same standard shipping timeline, their corresponding expedited shipping option might mean two or three business days.
The shipping options are therefore relative to each other and vary from business to business and depend on the location of the customer as well.
Difference between Expedited Shipping and Express Shipping
For some service providers, these two terms mean the same. Semantically, there is no difference per se between “expedited” and “express.” They both signify a degree of promptness.
In the event that you want to offer both these options, an express shipping option will provide a faster shipping timeline, which could mean next-day shipping or 2-day shipping. Then, depending on the timeline for standard shipping, an expedited shipping option might offer delivery within 3 to 4 days.
Difference between Expedited Shipping and Same Day Shipping
Same Day shipments are generally the most expensive shipping option for any business and refer to the order being shipped on the same day as it is processed. An imperative here is that you must specify that the shipping timeline starts after order processing is complete, regardless of the shipping timeline your customers choose.
To illustrate, if a customer places an order on 1st January with a same day shipping option, it doesn’t mean that the order has to be shipped on the 1st. The choice gets activated once the order is processed, which might take a day or two. So, given all other considerations, an order placed on 1st January might get shipped on the 2nd while still being considered same day shipping.
Suppose your business chooses to provide the same day shipping option. Then, expedited shipping could be the second-quickest shipping option available with a timeline of 2 to 3 days.
Difference between Expedited Shipping and Next Day Shipping
Suppose you want to add all the possible options for shipping so that a customer is in all probability going to find something that fits their needs. In that case, you can throw in a next day shipping option as well, which essentially means two day shipping. If your business provides two day shipping as a standard shipping option, then, of course, a next day shipping choice would be redundant.
The difference between next day shipping and expedited shipping would be that while the former triggers shipping processes in two days, the latter would probably take three to four days.
How Much Does Expedited Shipping Cost?
The exact costs for expedited shipping widely vary across different carriers and differ depending on the courier’s dimensions, weight, and destination. To know more about these variables, consider visiting this guide on factors that affect shipping within Canada.
For Canada Post, the quote is provided to you only after you fill the form. Here’s a rough breakdown of costs for the other courier services mentioned in this guide:
As per the UPS Canada Rate and Service Guide, the costs can range anywhere between $17.40 and $38.60 depending on the weight of the package and whether UPS Pak is required, i.e., a cardboard box for delicate items like electronics or important documents.
For USPS, the Priority Mail Express shipping prices for domestic couriers range between $23.00 and $26.60, depending on the volume of the shipments.
FedEx Express Rates Guide specifies expedite shipping pricing for shipments that weigh between 1 lb. and 55 lbs. For this range, the prices can fluctuate between $30 and $40.
Compare rates from the best couriers and access volume discounts on shipping - regardless of your volume.
Choosing a shipping carrier that offers the shipping options that align with your business and logistical requirements will make your operations smoother. Once you ship an item, you are not merely passing the baton to the shipping carrier. You are instilling your trust in the shipping carrier to fulfill the promises you have made to your customer. This decision should not be taken lightly.
Make sure to study your options carefully before choosing a logistical partner. If you ship overseas, make sure you understand the shipping terms that apply with most carriers as well.
For expedited shipping, here are some of the top shipping carriers:
As per UPS website, UPS provides six shipping options for domestic deliveries. The benchmark is UPS Standard, which is its Standard Shipping option. They have set this option for End of Day on the date scheduled. This means that the shipping will be done by the end of that day on the Scheduled Date.
Every other option needs to provide a shipping time before the End of Day from the date scheduled.
The Expedited Shipping option is the second slowest option with delivery by End of Day, within two business days. This is roughly two days faster than the Standard Shipping option.
The USPS Expedited Shipping option falls under the Priority Mail Express shipping choices. This is an excellent example of a carrier using the terms ‘expedited’ and ‘express’ interchangeably.
The First Class Package International Service seems to be their Standard Shipping option, with the lowest cost and longest delivery time. As you can see, there is a vast difference between the two costs and timelines.
Their available shipping speed for local shipping is one business day, and for regional, it is up to three days. It would be fair to assume that the Expedited Shipping option would fall within this range of three days.
FedEx Expedited Shipping
Your Shipping Need (Delivery by)
Within hours (depending on availability)
FedEx Next Flight
10 a.m. next business day to most metropolitan areas
FedEx First Overnight
Morning, next business day to most metropolitan areas
FedEx Priority Overnight
2 to 3 business days to other areas
FedEx Standard Overnight
5 p.m. next business day to businesses and by 8 p.m. to residences in most metropolitan areas
1 to 2 business days by 5 p.m. to businesses and by 8 p.m. to residences in most metropolitan areas
FedEx lays out the tightest timelines out of all the discussed shipping carriers. With their fastest option being “within hours” under the FedEx Next Flight option and their Standard Shipping timeline being one to three business days under the FedEx Economy option, their Expedited Shipping option offers delivery within one to two business days.
These timelines would change for international couriers, for which the options are more delineated.
Reasons to Offer Expedited Shipping As An E-Commerce Shop
Expedited Shipping puts you at an advantage in relation to other e-commerce shops that have limited shipping options. Though providing expedited shipping might require additional investments, there are numerous reasons why the returns on these investments will be high.
These are just a few of the reasons to offer expedited shipping as an e-commerce shop:
Ship from multiple fulfillment centers
You can split your inventories across multiple fulfillment centers, which is a prudent strategy to implement if you offer expedited shipping.
With expedited shipping, you can justify having multiple fulfillment centers spread across the region, which will dramatically reduce your shipping costs. This inventory split leads to the added benefit of having more streamlined logistic workflows and lower chances of inventory issues since you are essentially creating backup inventory by storing them in different centers.
Expedited Shipping Helps Reduce Cart Abandonment
By lowering shipping costs for yourself, you can also offer affordable rates for expedited shipping to your customers, which can reduce cart abandonment issues.
Step into your customer’s shoes for a second. They see an item they require urgently, read the reviews and add it to the cart. On the checkout page, they are hit with a high shipping charge or an unusually long delivery time.
This will instantly discourage the customer from completing the checkout and the cart could be abandoned right there. Also, you will lose a customer for a reason that has nothing to do with your products.
When you have multiple fulfillment centers, the shipping cost and time for delivery for the customer reduces, thus making it more likely for them to complete the transaction.
Expedited Shipping is the Best Choice For Perishable Items
Due to the pandemic, customers are looking toward e-commerce websites and shops for not just clothes, electronics, and home decor but also perishable items. There is no point in having pudding cups in your shop if your delivery options do not include expedited shipping, right? No customer will want week-old pudding cups.
Expedited shipping allows you to expand the scope of items you are selling, as you don’t have to be limited to non-perishable items.
Expensive Items Are Safer to be Shipped Using Expedited Parcels
The gap between the time a product leaves your store and gets delivered at your customer’s doorstep can lead to plenty of uncertainty. As the days go by, the chances of damaging, misplacing, or losing the item to unfavorable weather or conditions increase exponentially. The customer is more likely to blame you for such occurrences if the delivery time is too long, especially when the items are expensive. This can lead to unnecessary disputes and possibly even litigation.
To reduce the probability of hiccups, reduce the length of this limbo period between dispatch and delivery by offering expedited shipping.
Expedited Shipping for Emergencies or Time Sensitive Projects
A significant percentage of buyers wait for the last moment to order something, either because they spend a lot of time comparing products or they want to gauge whether they genuinely need the product. A small percentage of e-commerce transactions also stem from emergency needs. For example, a customer’s laptop started malfunctioning, and they need one before their next workday begins, or at least by the weekend.
To be able to capture these segments of customers, providing expedited shipping is crucial.
How To Offer Cost-Efficient Expedited Shipping
Add Expedited Shipping Costs to the Customer’s Invoice
Do not include the cost of expedited shipping within the product price. Delineate it clearly in the customer’s invoice so that they know what the carrier is charging you and that is what you are charging them.
Use a Fixed Expedited Delivery Range to Save Money
It is not advisable to offer expedited delivery to all delivery zones. Allow that option only in regions with fulfillment centers so that you are not struggling to meet the deadline from a different region.
Offer Expedited Shipping Only For Low Weight Freight
Carriers impose a surcharge based on the courier item’s weight, as is displayed in the charts for the significant expedited shipping players. Enable expedited shipping for lightweight products to avoid that surcharge to save costs.
Choose a Better Expedited Shipping Company
Examine all the add-on values along with the time and expedited shipping cost that the various carriers are providing. Within these peripheral details, you will find a way to shortlist shipping companies that are best suited for you and your customers. If you operate in multiple regions, do not hesitate to use different expedited shipping services from companies for other regions.
Switch To Flat Rate Boxes
A flat rate box refers to packaging with the same shipping rate, regardless of the weight of the package. If your items are small but heavy, a Flat Rate Box option will give you the most value out of each dollar you spend on providing expedited shipping.
Take an inventory of the products you sell and package them as per the flat-rate box. This will allow you to fulfill large orders while also reducing shipping costs. Win-win.
The e-commerce fulfillment center can reduce inventory costs and also provide you with a wider customer base, not just for standard deliveries but also for expedited shipping.
A well-established fulfillment center can also help you negotiate rates with carriers, thus contributing to the reduction in shipping costs.
Expedited Shipping with a 3PL Company
Partnering with a 3PL company, i.e., a third-party logistics company, will cut down on a lot of the added burden that comes with providing expedited shipping options.
By adding a logistics company to the mix, you are handing your freight to experts in not just shipping but also in planning the technicalities that come with faster deliveries. Outsourcing this part of the decision-making process ensures that you can meet the commitments you make to your customers, without the logistics assessments that come with it.
Expedited shipping with a 3PL company will decrease your processing times without you having to track and coordinate deliveries, which can take a lot of time and effort.
It also provides a basis for a stress-free business in general since you are not responsible for the logistics and the other moving parts of your e-commerce independently. Your customers will be happy with faster delivery times, and you will have the time and peace of mind to focus on your business.
Expedited shipping is an excellent option for businesses that want to cater to as many customers as possible, prioritize customer loyalty and reduce shipping costs. Including this option need not be a drain on your financial resources. Even though it might seem like an unnecessary investment in the short term, it can reap dividends when it turns you into the go-to e-commerce shop for your demographic.
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Can you provide a timeline enumerating all the basic shipping options?
Here is a representative timeline of the major shipping options that courier services offer. These will vary according to the chosen courier service and other variables related to the parcel in question.
Same Day Delivery (1 business day)
Next-Day Delivery (2 business days)
Express Delivery (3 business days)
Expedited Delivery(4-5 business days)
Standard delivery(5-7 business days)
If I only courier overseas, should I be offering expedited shipping?
Businesses usually limit their expedited shipping options to geographical areas that are in the vicinity of a fulfillment center. If you provide deliveries to a geographic location that doesn’t have a fulfillment center and are not happy with the existing expediting shipping timelines offered by couriers, expedited shipping may not be viable for you.
Will not providing expedited shipping harm my business?
There is no straightforward answer regarding the consequences of including or not including expedited shipping. The logic is that the more flexible shipping options you have, the more likely your customers are not to abandon their cart after seeing long delivery times. It is also more likely that they will rely on you when shopping for perishable and expensive items.
Okay, so it won’t harm my business. But is it worth the added cost?
Expedited shipping can also help offset shipping costs in the long run. Since expedited shipping will require multiple fulfillment centers, you will end up having to build a decentralized inventory system. In the long run, it can reduce shipping costs on your end, which can make up for the upfront investment.
Greg Woo is a seasoned expert in the logistics and distribution industry, with a career spanning over two decades. He has a comprehensive understanding of shipping and distribution needs, and has extensive experience integrating with e-commerce stores as well as customer specific WMS (warehouse management systems) and ERP’s (enterprise resource planning software). His tenure in the industry and established courier and LTL partnerships have allowed clients to benefit from reduced shipping expenses, as well as improved operations through software and specialized integrations.
Greg is currently the Director at Ship Expert Inc., a role he has held since February 2015. Prior to his role at Ship Expert, Greg held significant positions at Juxto, a telecommunications and managed internet service provider.
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