How to Calculate Shipping Costs

Knowing how to calculate shipping costs is an important skill to have for any e-commerce business.


Average shipping costs can be too vague to make you feel confident that you’re getting the best deal. Making this mistake once or twice is no big deal, but for businesses that have to handle shipping often, getting the hang of shipping estimates will save you a lot of money in the long run. It can be intimidating when you take a look at the hefty price tag that comes with shipping packages. If you are here to understand how to calculate shipping costs or how to find cheap shipping options, you are at the right place!


How Do I Calculate Shipping Costs?


One of the easiest and most accurate ways to calculate shipping costs is to use an online transit time and rate estimation tool.


Each individual carrier has its own shipping cost calculator: FedEx, USPS

Here’s how it works:

  • Pick a box and look at its dimensions.

  • Determine the weight—unless you chose a flat rate box, in which case weight won’t matter.

  • Find your destination’s ZIP code for an accurate measure of distance.

  • Compare options.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Package?


There isn’t a quick and easy, one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to finding the cheapest way to ship a package. That’s because a package’s size, weight, and distance traveled all have a drastic impact on the cost of shipping. Additionally, you should consider what is more important for you when deciding on a shipping option. Do you prefer a quicker delivery time or are you focused on the cheapest cost? i Logistics USA offers a rate-shopping option for our client brands to use allowing us to pick the best possible rate for them.


To save you time calculating shipping costs, here are some guidelines to follow so you’ll know what carrier’s calculator tool to use:


Cheapest Way to Ship Lightweight Packages


For packages traveling domestically, the cheapest possible way to ship any item up to 2 pounds in weight is to use USPS, which can take from 1-10 days depending on the service you choose.


Once you are near 2 pounds, FedEx will start having more competitive pricing, but for boxes under 2 pounds, and especially under 1 pound, your best option is USPS for now.


If you’re using a flat rate box from USPS, there are limitations, which is when you’ll want to consider FedEx. In sum, if the shipping weight of your package is on the heavier size, the more cost-saving shipping service would be a private shipping company such as FedEx.


Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally


Wondering what is the cheapest way to ship internationally? Well, as we’ve stated in previous blogs, FedEx has a fantastic reputation with international shipping. If you want cheap, use USPS, but once the shipment leaves the US, you’re pretty much on your own. FedEx goes point to point and is trackable the entire way.


Cheapest On-Time Delivery


To no fault of their postal workers, USPS is known to falter when it comes to accurate delivery windows. During a recent 6-month study, 494 million pieces of mail did not meet the standard for local or cross-country delivery times, according to The Washington Post. FedEx standard overnight shipping, on the other hand, is known for its fast delivery service.


If you’re looking for a cost-effective delivery that is guaranteed to arrive on-time, you should use FedEx. Their rates will definitely be higher than USPS, but they will almost certainly be lower than UPS, so it’s a great middle-of-the-road option when your package is time sensitive.


Cheapest Way to Ship Large, Heavy Packages


If you have small, heavy items, using a flat rate shipping box from USPS is a foolproof way to get the best deal. But if your items are large and heavy, you’ll need to get familiar with a key term: dimensional weight.


Dimensional weight comes into play when your package is large in size, regardless of whether or not it’s heavy in weight.


Here’s what each company defines as a large package:

  • FedEx – If the package is larger than 3 cubic feet (5,184 cubic inches)

  • USPS – If the package is larger than 1 cubic foot (1,728 cubic inches)

Here’s how to calculate shipping using dimensional weight formulas:

  • FedEx – Length x Width x Height / 139

  • USPS – Length x Width x Height / 166


How Does Dimensional Weight Work?


The outcome of your formula is the weight you’ll be paying for, regardless of the actual weight of your package. So, if you’re shipping a 20” x 20” x 20” box that weighs 5lbs, you’d be stuck paying for 57.6lbs with FedEx (20 x 20 x 20 / 139) and 48.2lbs for USPS (20 x 20 x 20 / 166).


USPS seems like the best bet for oversized packages, but there’s one exception: a box that’s between 1,728 and 5,184 cubic inches. If you were to ship a box that’s 10” x 10” x 20” (which equals 2,000 cubic inches) and 5lbs, you wouldn’t have to worry about dimensional weight by shipping through FedEx.


Choosing to use USPS will leave you paying for a 12lb shipment.


Leave the Calculations to i Logistics USA


While it’s useful, using a carrier’s shipping calculator tool whenever you need a shipping fee estimate isn’t a feasible solution for a booming business. Even if you cut down the time spent on their sites by using some of those helpful tips.


The easiest way to get calculated shipping rates costs for your orders is to team up with a reliable 3PL like i Logistics USA.


i Logistics USA will handle your shipping and returns for you, offering same-day service on most orders and a 3-6 hours turnaround for all standard e-commerce orders.


Using FedEx and USPS, we do the hard calculations for you, making sure you get a cost-effective service every time.

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