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Delivery Logistics

Standard Shipping: What It Is, How It Works & How to Use It

Discover the ins and outs of standard shipping, including delivery times and costs across major carriers, and learn when to use it over express options.


When deciding on shipping, cost is likely a major consideration. 

Standard shipping is often the most budget-friendly option given by couriers and delivery services. 

However, there are drawbacks to consider.

Standard shipping costs less but takes longer than priority options like priority mail express or next-day delivery services.

During checkout, you might see standard shipping labeled as regular, economy, or ground shipping. 

It's cheaper because it often involves land transportation, making it slower.

Standard shipping delivery usually takes 1-5 days for domestic deliveries

Is it the right choice for your package? How does it vary among different couriers? What are the costs and delivery times? 

Get all the answers in this article, as we break down everything you need to know about standard shipping. Keep reading to learn more!

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Standard Shipping Times and Prices Across Different Carriers

Standard shipping typically uses road and rail networks for package delivery. 

Although this helps reduce costs compared to air transportation, customers prefer quicker delivery options. After all, regardless of the mode of transport—be it by road, rail, or air—everyone wants their orders to arrive promptly.

Today, five major players strive to provide extensive and rapid standard shipping services.

Standard Shipping Times and Prices with USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a standard shipping option called USPS Retail Ground. It's ideal for non-urgent deliveries and packages that aren't oversized.

If you're sending or receiving a package that isn't rushed and isn't too large, USPS is a suitable choice.

Using USPS, deliveries typically range from 2 to 5 business days, depending on the distance to the destination. So, your package should arrive within a maximum of 5 days.

This service is also offered on Saturdays at no extra cost. Prices start at $9.85, and the service is only available at post offices. The actual prices vary based on weight and shipping distance.

The maximum allowed shipment weight is 70 pounds, with a maximum combined length and girth of 130 inches.

Packages measuring between 108 and 130 inches are subject to an oversize fee.

To determine your shipping costs, weigh and measure your package accurately.

USPS shipments come with free tracking, and you can opt for additional services like collect on delivery, return receipt, and signature confirmation. Plus, you can even track your USPS package without a tracking number.

With these features, USPS is a top choice for package delivery.

The USPS Retail Ground service is available in all 49 continental US states, as well as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Some ZIP codes in Alaska may incur a limited overland route fee.

Standard Shipping Times and Prices with FedEx

FedEx offers two standard shipping options: FedEx Ground for business deliveries and FedEx Home Delivery for residential areas.

Both services have an edge over USPS Retail Ground as they operate 7 days a week, including weekends.

With FedEx, you can send or receive packages on Saturdays and Sundays hassle-free. Additionally, these services are available across all 50 US states, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Prices begin at $9.36 for packages weighing 1 pound or less and traveling a distance of 150 miles or less—a reasonable rate considering the service provided.

Yet, if you opt for FedEx Ground delivery to a residential address, there's a $4 surcharge.

The maximum permitted weight for packages is 150 pounds.

Packages must not exceed 108 inches in length or 165 inches in combined length and girth for shipment via FedEx Ground or FedEx Home Delivery. Make sure to weigh and measure your packages accurately before sending them.

Delivery times for both services vary from 1 to 5 business days, depending on the distance to the destination. Shipments to and from Alaska and Hawaii typically take 3 to 7 business days. Plan accordingly when shipping your package, especially if you have a specific delivery deadline.

If your package needs to arrive by a certain date, consider shipping it earlier, especially for destinations in Alaska or Hawaii.

For shipping multiple packages from the same origin to the same destination, consider using the FedEx Ground Multiweight service.

Tracking your FedEx packages is simple. Explore our comprehensive guide on how to track a FedEx package for more details.

Standard Shipping Times and Prices with UPS

The UPS standard shipping option, known as UPS Ground, offers a dependable and economical means of nationwide package delivery within 1-5 business days.

Saturday delivery is standard for most shipments to residential addresses, ensuring convenient service.

With UPS claiming that 90% of UPS Ground packages are delivered in 3 business days or less, you can trust in their efficiency and timely delivery.

UPS Ground serves both residential and commercial addresses in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, providing day-definite deliveries for better control over your shipping schedules.

UPS Ground rates for 2024 offer affordable shipping options.

For commercial shipments, UPS delivers from Monday to Saturday, while residential packages enjoy a 7-day delivery service.

Whether it's for residential or commercial purposes, UPS is an excellent choice for shipping needs.

All UPS shipments adhere to the same size and weight specifications, allowing packages of up to 150 pounds and 108 inches long.

Before shipping, be sure to verify the weight and size of your package.

Standard Shipping Times and Prices with Amazon

Amazon's standard shipping service ensures deliveries to the contiguous 48 US states in 4-5 business days.

For Alaska and Hawaii, expect deliveries within 3-7 business days.

Shipping fees are pre-determined and incorporated into the item's price on Amazon's platform.

Unlike conventional couriers, Amazon employs a flat rate system based on the purchased product category.

Standard domestic shipping rates are fixed at $3.99 for items like books, video games, and DVDs, and $4.49 for products such as computer hardware, cellphones, outdoor and kitchen equipment, and more.

Amazon imposes an extra fee of $0.50 per pound for items exceeding the weight limit in the $4.49 shipping category.

Typically, Amazon shipping boxes have a standard weight limit of 50 pounds, unless a single item surpasses this limit.

While Amazon ships most items to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, specific limitations may apply, particularly for shipping hazardous materials like lithium batteries.

Additional fees may apply for oversized packages exceeding 70 pounds or 108 inches in combined length and girth.

Standard Shipping Times and Prices with DHL

DHL provides three unique services for domestic standard shipping.

Their DHL Ground Direct service ensures point-to-point shipping with specified delivery times.

With a dedicated fleet of trucks, DHL can manage oversized cargo and temperature-controlled deliveries for this service.

For larger cargo needs, DHL offers a Domestic Rail Freight service, which is cheaper than road transportation.

DHL offers air, ocean, and road freight services connecting to Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

Domestic delivery times range from 3 to 8 postal days, contingent on the shipping origin and destination.

For international shipments, expect delivery within 4-8 days to Europe and 8-14 days to other parts of the world.

Rates are contingent on package size, but you can estimate them easily using the DHL quote calculator.

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Standard vs. Express Shipping: What Sets Them Apart?

Standard vs. Express Shipping: Unpacking the Differences

The contrast between standard and express shipping primarily revolves around three key factors.

  1. Delivery Time. Standard shipping spans several days to a week or longer, contingent on the shipping origin and destination. Express shipping guarantees delivery within 24 to 72 hours domestically.
  2. Cost. Standard shipping is more cheap, utilizing land or sea transportation, which is relatively inexpensive. Express shipping, on the other hand, ensures expedited delivery and may involve air transport, making it considerably pricier.
  3. Shipping Method. Standard shipping prioritizes cost-effective routes, often utilizing road or rail transport. Express shipping prioritizes speed, frequently involving air transport to the nearest airport, with last-mile delivery typically via road or rail.

Moreover, standard and express shipping offer varying extra features and services. 

Express shipping, being more premium, often includes extras like tracking, insurance, tailored packaging, time-specific deliveries, and more.

Optimal Scenarios for Standard Shipping Usage

Deciding between standard and express shipping hinges on two main factors: desired delivery speed and package size and weight.

Standard shipping is typically the default choice when immediate delivery isn't crucial, as it offers the most cost-effective option. Opting for standard shipping is advisable for non-urgent shipments, as it entails lower shipping expenses.

With standard shipping, the courier collects the package from the warehouse one day after the order is placed. It then utilizes the most economical transportation mode available, usually trucks, based on the destination. Subsequently, a delivery window, spanning typically 2-3 days, is provided for package arrival estimation.

Another factor influencing the choice of standard shipping is the size and dimensions of the package.

Many courier services impose restrictions on the size and volume of packages eligible for expedited delivery options. So, bulky or irregularly shaped packages often must be shipped via standard methods.

Express shipping offers expedited delivery via the fastest available route and transportation modes, often facilitating next-day delivery. Typically, express shipping includes date-specific delivery options and can deliver within 24 to 72 hours domestically, depending on the courier.

For urgent deliveries requiring timely arrival, express shipping ensures the package reaches its destination promptly.

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Can you ship internationally with standard shipping?

Absolutely! 

Some courier services provide international shipping options akin to standard shipping to certain destinations worldwide. 

Yet, not all couriers label these services as "standard" for international shipments. 

This is primarily because international shipping from the US typically involves air or sea transport, with exceptions like neighboring countries Canada and Mexico. 

For instance, FedEx International Ground service operates within Canada, delivering to both business and residential addresses. Additionally, USPS extends cost-effective shipping to approximately 180 countries, including popular destinations like the UK, Japan, and Australia. The pricing and delivery schedules are subject to change depending on the location.

How can you effectively track shipped packages?

Sending or receiving packages, whether for personal or business reasons, can be stressful due to the uncertainties involved.

Standard shipping often lacks specific delivery dates. That leaves senders and recipients unsure of when to expect their packages.

That's why obtaining a tracking number for your packages is a sensible choice.

With few exceptions, tracking is typically included as a complimentary feature by most couriers.

To ease the stress of waiting for packages, use a tracking service capable of pinpointing your shipment within seconds.

Knowing your package's precise location will provide you with peace of mind during the waiting process.

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