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Flat Rate Shipping: Cheaper Shipping for E-Commerce

Learn why flat rate shipping works best for e-commerce, how much it costs to ship with UPS, USPS, and FedEx, and how it lowers shipping costs.

This is our complete guide to flat rate shipping.

In it, we’re going to show you:

How flat rate shipping works

How much it costs to ship flat rate with major carriers (UPS, USPS, FedEx)

Why it works great with e-commerce shipping

So if you’re looking to ship flat rate and bring down the cost of shipping, you’ll find everything you need in this guide.

Let’s dive in.

What is flat rate shipping?

Flat rate shipping is a delivery option that offers you 1-3 day shipping services for a single flat fee. Flat rate services are popular among many businesses since they simplify how you outsource ecommerce fulfillment and how carriers calculate shipping cost.

As long as the package stays under the size and weight limits, and within the shipping zone, the carrier will deliver it to your customer using the flat rate shipping method.

NOTE: Flat rate shipping may also refer to how you deliver goods to your customers. If you have a fixed delivery rate, you charge the same fee for every order.

(Instead of offering free delivery or calculating the cost of delivery based on parameters such as distance, selected delivery option, or order size and weight.)

In this article, we focus on flat rate shipping services you get from hiring carriers and providers.

Why are shipping flat rates ideal for ecommerce delivery?

Flat rate services are a popular way of outsourcing delivery since carriers don’t use typical methods to calculate the shipping cost.

Typically, the farther the distance the more expensive it is to deliver orders to customers.

The same is true with shipping zones.

UPS, USPS, FedEx, and other large and small carriers determine the cost of shipping based on whether the destination of an order is inside a specific shipping zone.

But dimensional weight is another common pricing technique.

Carriers will multiply the length, width and height of a package to determine the shipping cost.

This is a common practice among shipping carriers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS.

They calculate the shipping charge based on what’s greater: the weight of the package vs. dimensional weight.

Flat rate shipping simplifies things. A LOT!

Flat rate shipping doesn’t rely on:

✖ Distance to destination

✖ Shipping zones

✖ Order weight and volume

✖ Package weight and size


How does flat rate shipping work?

With flat rate shipping, the price of shipping isn’t associated with weight, shape, or size of what you’re shipping. Hence the term flat rate.

Instead, it’s based on how many items you can fit into standard shipping packages, boxes, or other shipping containers.

You’re charged with the same shipping price regardless of how many items you put inside the box.

Or the overall weight of the items inside the package. (If it’s less than the maximum supported weight by the box/package/container)

For e-commerce delivery, the process of flat rate shipping works like this:

Step #1: Get a flat rate box

Depending on the carrier, there are several varieties of flat rate boxes to choose from. Typically, they are different based on their size: small, medium, or large. And the larger the box, the higher the shipping cost.

Step #2: Pack items into the box and address the package

Pick and pack items for shipping into the flat rate box and address the package for delivery.

Step #3: Ship your flat rate package

Here you have two options: You can either bring the flat rate box to your carrier’s shipping center. Or you can make an arrangement with them so that a driver picks up all your custom packages at your store or distribution center. (This depends on how large are your order volumes)

How much is flat rate shipping?

Flat rate shipping costs as little as $7.75 (USPS) and as much as $112.60 (FedEx).

The price depends on several factors:

  • The carrier you end up choosing
  • Size of the flat rate envelope or box
  • Delivery speed (when the package arrives)
  • Commercial-based payment vs.at the shipping center
  • Paid-per-package vs. prepaid service

Here’s how much flat rate shipping costs with some of the most common carriers:

UPS flat rate shipping

To find out more about UPS flat rate shipping prices, click this link.

UPS flat rate shipping starts at $9.45 (for extra small boxes) and $24.30 (for extra large boxes).

UPS also has four different speeds on offer: 5-day, 3-day, 2-day, and next-day shipping.

(Depending on what you choose, this may alter the cost of shipping)

FedEx flat rate shipping

To find out more about FedEx flat rate shipping prices, click this link.

FedEx flat rate shipping starts at $9.80 (for envelopes, 3-day shipping), and can set you back as much as $112.60 (for extra large box, next-day shipping).

NOTE: These prices apply to the continental United States. FedEx has different shipping zones beyond this region.

USPS flat rate shipping

To find out more about USPS flat rate shipping prices, click here.

USPS flat rate shipping starts at $7.75 (for envelopes) and can go as much as $21.50 (for a large box).

USPS also offers their Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate® which starts at $8.95 per package and depends on your needs and the size of the shipping box.

Royal Mail flat rate shipping

To find out more about Royal Mail flat rate shipping prices, click here.

Royal Mail offers flat rate shipping rates in the United Kingdom, but they calculate the price based on your business needs.

You’ll have to contact them to find out what’s the best plan for your business.

DHL flat rate shipping

DHL offers flat rate shipping for specific countries. It also depends on where you want to ship your package.

For more information about DHL flat rate shipping in the United States, click this link.

How long does it take to deliver with flat rate shipping?

How long it takes for a package to arrive at its destination with flat rate shipping depends on which rate you end up choosing.

For standard flat rate shipping it can take anywhere from two to five days (not counting Sunday).

But many carriers offer priority flat rate shipping.

This type of service can ship your package via next-day or overnight delivery.

Why use flat rate shipping for e-commerce?

Flat rate shipping is ideal for small business delivery and shipping.

First, it generates huge savings. Typically, the cost of flat rate shipping is lower than with standard delivery and shipping services.

It also provides a more predictable cost. This makes it easier to calculate fulfillment costs for your e-commerce business.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense for every online business, especially if you’re looking to start your own delivery service.

But it does benefit your small businesses if you pack orders and send packages via post.

Here’s why else to consider flat rate shipping:

#1 You can package anything

If the items you want to ship are below 70 lb. (usual weight limit of large flat rate boxes), you can ship anything with flat rate shipping.

#2 You’re automatically insured

With flat rate shipping, there’s no need to purchase shipping insurance separately. Every flat rate package is automatically insured up to a certain amount (typically up to $50), and your costs will be covered.

#3 You can drop off at any shipping center

Once you pick and pack an order, you can drop it off at any shipping center of your dedicated carrier.

#4 You can request pick up at the storage facility

If you operate a physical location (warehouse, storage facility, or distribution center), you can make a deal with the carrier to pick up large volumes of items at your location. This depends on the carrier and how many orders you want to ship.

#5 You can track your packages

With most carriers that offer flat rate shipping (UPS, FedEx, USPS, Royal Mail, DHL), you can track your package once you drop it off. All you need to do is enter the tracking number and follow it as it moves to its destination.

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Flat rate shipping restrictions

Although you don’t have to worry about weight and size restrictions, there are some limits on what you can send via flat rate shipping.

You are forbidden to ship these items (regardless of the carrier you use):

  • Explosives
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Air bags
  • Gasoline
  • Flammable materials
  • Alcohol
  • And more

Want to deliver alcoholic beverages to your customers? Read our guide on alcohol delivery to get started right now.

How can eLogii help you outsource your e-commerce fulfillment?

eLogii is a delivery management software solution. Our software helps companies with both internal, external and hybrid delivery fleets plan, manage, and optimize operations.

Even if you rely solely on flat rate shipping, our software can help you to streamline other parts of your delivery service.

All the while you’ll be able to integrate the software with other tools, bring down delivery and transportation costs, and grow your business.

Here’s what eLogii can do for you:

#1 Schedule pick-ups and drop-offs

If you’re using a flat rate shipping carrier, you can use eLogii’s platform to plan and schedule pick-ups and drop-offs. (Regardless of whether you drop-off packages to the shipping center or your carrier picks them up at your facility)

Even if you operate with a hybrid fleet, this feature can help you plan better schedules as you’ll be able to optimize e-commerce fulfillment. Not to mention total visibility over packages coming in and those shipping out, at any moment.

#2 Easily integrate with any other solution

eLogii’s powerful API can integrate with virtually any other type of software that you use.

This means you can integrate it with any order management system (OMS) that you’re using, such as WooCommerce, Shopify, etc. So you can automatically upload every order directly from the OMS.

But it can also integrate with any other software that your 3PL carrier uses. This means you can connect the software to your carrier and monitor shipping via one dashboard. (Instead of constantly entering tracking numbers for each package that they deliver for you)


#3 Provide your customers with tracking info and notifications

With 3PLs, it’s difficult to maintain the same quality of customer service that they’re used to if you deliver customer’s packages yourself.

Our software gets around this problem easily by giving you complete control over how you interact with your customers.

eLogii allows you to set up custom notifications. When a driver is on his way to the drop-off destination, the software automatically sends out an email or text message to the customer. This alert is completely customizable and works with both internal and external delivery fleets.

At the same time, you can attach a tracking link to the message and let customers follow their package along the last mile. This helps you to provide a greater level of transparency over your operations, while at the same time not compromising secure data.

(That would otherwise be available to your customers if you just gave them the tracking number provided by your carrier)

#4 50+ features for delivery management and route optimization

eLogii is an end-to-end solution with over 50+ built-in features that lets you manage and control every aspect and stage of the delivery process, including route optimization.

It’s ideal for small and medium business, and enterprises, and works well with any type of delivery service.

So if you’re looking to cut down transportation costs and other operational expenses, automate your logistics, and save time with delivery software when planning your deliveries, eLogii is the solution for your e-commerce business.

And we can help you beyond this.


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