UPS SurePost Guide for Business Owners

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We are experiencing a massive shift in the way consumers shop, and lately it’s been online. As technology has advanced and online businesses have grown in prominence, the U.S. is experiencing the highest annual ecommerce growth in the last two decades. Even placing the pandemic on the back burner, consumers have generally changed the way they receive goods, and getting items shipped straight to their door will always be an attractive option. Now more than ever, ecommerce businesses and retailers need to manage shipping effectively, as the increase in online sales has made couriers even more reliant on stable shipping practices.

As an online retailer or business owner, it’s natural to want to save money when it comes to tackling shipping costs. From the moment products are sent to a shipping courier till the second they place the parcel at the doorstep, fees accumulate and shipping costs can increase. For those looking for a reliable and cost effective solution for shipping, UPS SurePost is a program that could help. For those interested in learning what UPS SurePost is, it’s a shipping service from the United Parcel Services that seeks to drive down costs within the “last mile” of the shipping process. We’ll explore how UPS SurePost works, as well as:

What is UPS SurePost

UPS SurePost is a shipping solution brought to us by the United Parcel Services that helps business owners potentially save money within their shipping costs and maximize potential profits. Many of the pesky shipping costs that online seller’s deal with are encountered within the last mile of delivery. Those large trucks running multiple deliveries a day can begin to add up, especially if you’re sending a large volume of deliveries per week. UPS looked at the amount of money being lost within the very last step of delivery and decided to simplify the process while saving everyone money in the big picture.

With FedEx, UPS, and USPS as the big three shipping services, it’s normal to see numerous trucks at once, despite some of these delivery drivers heading to the same place. To create UPS SurePost, UPS teamed up with the USPS to minimize the trucks on the road to avoid multiple deliveries to the same location per day and require less labor overall. There are a lot of savings in the simple act of UPS transferring deliveries to a USPS location for local delivery, estimates show that UPS SurePost can save up to 20% in delivery costs.

  • SurePost Parcel Select (1lb – 70lbs): With SurePost Parcel Select, the package must be shipped within a corrugated box, poly bag, padded bag, or shipping tube. The package also cannot be more than 130” long as well as exceed a girth of 60” in any space. 
  • SurePost Parcel Select Lightweight (1oz. – 15.99oz.): For SurePost Parcel Select Lightweight the package must be shipped within a corrugated box, poly bag, padded bag, or shipping tube. 
  • SurePost Bound and Printed Matter (1lb – 15lbs): For Bound and Printed Matter, the package must be shipped within a corrugated box, poly bag, padded bag, or shipping tube. The maximum dimensions for the parcel cannot exceed 108 “ in combined length and girth. The printed matter must contain only permanently-bound materials and sheets. 90% or more of the parcel’s content must include bound, printed matter. This is a contracted arrangement within SurePost. 
  • SurePost Media Mail (1lb – 70lbs): For SurePost Media Mail, the package must be shipped within a corrugated box, poly bag, padded bag, or shipping tube. There are also numerous specific content requirements, such as they can only contain forms of media such as tapes, books, CDs, etc. This also requires a special contract with SurePost.

Pros of UPS SurePost

For those first learning about what UPS SurePost is, there are many exciting features of the program. Some of the biggest advantages of UPS SurePost include:

  • Cost Savings: As we covered before, many deliver costs are incurred within the last mile, regardless of how far that journey actually is. Staffing delivery personnel and operating numerous trucks can add up if deliveries are consistent enough. USPS already delivers to most areas daily, so consolidating this process can shave off a substantial portion of the delivery costs. 
  • Daily and Weekend Delivery: The USPS runs six days a week from Monday to Saturday and UPS SurePost benefits from the same delivery window. Weekend delivery is a great shipping option that can help products get to consumers faster, UPS SurePost runs on Saturdays so it’s a great additional feature of the program. 
  • Shipment Tracking: While with some shipping services the tracking number will change once the carrier shifts within transit, UPS SurePost allows the ability to have the same tracking number from the moment the shipment is placed to the moment that the consumer receives the product. 
  • Shipment Drop Off: UPS SurePost also allows the ability for consumers to pick up their order from their nearest postal office. As an ecommerce business, being able to have pick-up and delivery options is a great way to customize the consumer experience. 
  • P.O. Box Delivery: The USPS delivers to all US territories and P.O. boxes, while UPS and FedEx are more restricted in their delivery areas. With UPS SurePost, members are able to place shipments to all domestic areas, broadening the ability to make profit within a slightly larger delivery base.

Cons of UPS SurePost

While there are many advantages of choosing to use UPS SurePost, every shipping service will come with its fair share of disadvantages. Some of these include:

  • Lack of Speediness: Naturally, with the transfer of shipments between UPS and USPS, there are some slight delays in delivery as opposed to choosing to ship directly through USPS. While the weekend delivery can counteract these delays, if you’re looking for the fastest shipping option available, UPS SurePost wouldn’t make the cut. UPS SurePost delivery times can range from 2-7 days, so if you need something shipped overnight, UPS SurePost won’t be the way. 
  • Benefits High Volume Deliveries: Opting into UPS SurePost program is best for those that have a consistent high volume of deliveries, the reason being that in order to actually save money there need to be enough deliveries for the program to be justified. If you’re only shipping packages every so often, this service wouldn’t be the most cost effective. 
  • No International Shipping Options: Since UPS SurePost relies on the efforts of the USPS, shipments are only able to occur domestically and international shipping options are not available. This is fine if your clientele is solely domestic, but those trying to expand to a global scale wouldn’t benefit from UPS SurePost. 

Who Should Use SurePost

UPS SurePost is a shipping service that can transform a business’ overall profits by saving money in delivery costs, but not necessarily for every business. The perfect company to benefit from UPS SurePost will possess these key features:

  • High Volume Shipping Load – To take full advantage of SurePost it is best to be shipping a lot of packages in order to maximize the profit gained in delivery costs. For the price of joining the UPS SurePost service, you’ll want to make sure your business is making an investment that will actually provide a return in profit due to lower delivery costs. Increasing a business’ weekly spend by consolidating shipments through UPS will drive down delivery costs in the long run and help maximize profit. 
  • No Demand for Expedited Delivery – If your products are not time sensitive or in high demand for express shipping options, UPS SurePost is a great option. UPS SurePost provides delivery in 2-7 days from the time the shipment is placed, so if your products can wait that long there is a lot of savings to be made. If products are not time sensitive and consumers understand the UPS delivery times, the program is a great choice. 
  • Packages are Typically Lightweight – Every ecommerce site is different, and UPS SurePost is best for those that are shipping lightweight parcels. Furniture companies need not apply, most of the shipments made through a UPS SurePost arrangement will be under 10 lbs. 

SurePost vs Similar Services

UPS SurePost isn’t the only shipping service that boasts reliable and expedited shipping procedures. USPS and FedEx are the two main competitors, with FedEx providing a very similar service called FedEx SmartPost. Every business will have unique shipping needs that may cause them to choose one service over the others. For overnight and express delivery options, USPS will make much more sense than UPS SurePost or FedEx. Generally speaking, deciding which of these courier services is best for you will depend on the packages being sent, how often shipments are occurring, and where products are being sent.

UPS SurePost vs. FedEx Smartpost

From an outside perspective, there are not many differences between UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost other than their name. That being said, there are intricacies to each that may influence a business to choose one over the other. Outside of these differences, both UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost will feature a consolidation model, work with USPS to handle the last mile of delivery, and offer shipping rates based on weekly spend. Some of the key differences between UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost include:

  • Delivery time: While UPS SurePost experiences slight delays due to transfers to USPS, FedEx SmartPost is actually slower. This is in part due to FedEx’s specific consolidation system, so out of the two options UPS SurePost delivery times are quicker. 
  • Consistency: FedEx SmartPost operates under a consolidation system that makes it so that USPS only receives shipments after meeting a volume requirement. While both services will work with consolidation, FedEx is a bit more inconsistent because UPS SurePost doesn’t wait to hit a volume requirement for USPS delivery.

ShipCalm Can Help With Shipping Costs

ShipCalm is a 3PL service that knows a thing or two about the best shipping practices to support profit and business growth, whether through ecommerce companies or brick-and-mortar businesses. Not only do we know what UPS SurePost is and if it could benefit your business, we have the expertise to identify which shipping practices can capitalize on your business’ strengths. We analyze business’ specific needs and streamline shipping processes to maximize strengths and seize future opportunities. Get in touch with a ShipCalm expert to request a quote today! 

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