E-commerce sales have soared in recent years, with forecasts putting annual revenue north of $638 billion by 2022. Whether your business is small or large, it’s crucial to your bottom line to find the most economically and efficient way to ship your products. You may wonder which of the major carriers is right for you. Can't seem to decide between ups vs usps? Let’s review what you need to know to choose the right one.

UPS vs USPS: Things to Consider

Box for shipping via ups vs usps

When you're the leader of a company, there’s more to weigh when choosing a shipper than just the cost. Other factors can influence the timeliness and reliability of deliveries. Remember that often your customers will blame you and not the carrier for lost or miss-delivered items. Therefore, it behooves you to make an informed choice.

Things that you should research between ups vs usps include:

  • Cost
  • Types of Products
  • Insurance
  • Tracking
  • Delivery Options
  • Convenience

It’s essential to weigh all these careful in making your choice of a carrier. As you’ll see, the answer isn’t necessarily a clear-cut one.


First on this list to consider in choosing between ups vs usps is cost. It is  definitely in the dealbreaker/dealmaker category. USPS beats UPS hands-down especially for smaller items under two pounds and international pieces.

You have more shipping options with services like media mail, first class, and priority. You can get a lot of stuff in a flat-rate box if you use the latter. It’s easier to dial in on an amount you want to pay.

Cost for shipping ups vs usps

With UPS, you’re going to overpay bigtime if you pay full-blown retail on shipping. Major carriers like this one typically negotiate a discount with a business. It often depends on volume. Generally, the more you ship, the better the deal you’ll get. On a side note, USPS will offer one too, but you have to be a very large shipper to start that conversation.

UPS tacks on some extra fees which bump off the cost including fuel surcharges and those for residential deliveries. In any case, USPS will still win this round even with a contract, especially when considering the benefits of Priority Mail as we’ll discuss below. But that only scratches the surface.

Types of Products

Boxes for shipping via ups vs usps

First, you should verify that the carrier will accept the items you want to ship. Each one has its shipping restrictions. Many are obvious such as explosives or illegal items. UPS prohibits additional things such as industrial diamonds, currency, and, not unsurprisingly, postage stamps.

USPS has oodles of size, shape, and weight restrictions that can affect your bottom line. UPS is more flexible on this score.  However, you’ll still do better with the former for lightweight items. However, there is a limit of 70 pounds on packages for the former. That same restriction doesn’t exist with the latter, but it will cost you a pretty penny.

USPS also has limits on dimensions. You can only ship items with a combined total of 108 inches. Anything more than that figure puts you back to UPS. But wait, there’s more!

Another factor affecting your cost is dimensional weight pricing by UPS. Part of the reason for this change concerns the rise of e-commerce. People are buying more stuff online. That has driven growth in the carrier industry but at a cost. More packages with lots of padding inside of them mean less space in delivery trucks and less of a return on investment for them.

That doesn’t leave a business without a lot of options. If they pass on the cost, they risk sales. If they don’t, that dips into their profits. Researching whether UPS is better is a valid question, especially given the fact that they raised these costs in early 2018. That said, USPS also uses this pricing model for larger items but at a less painful degree.

One other point in USPS’s favor concerns cubic tier pricing. If you ship small, dense stuff, they’ll charge you by volume rather than weight. The savings can add up significantly over time.


Tracking for ups vs usps

UPS has USPS beat on this front because of its greater use of GPS technology. The carrier uses it to plan the most efficient routes for their drivers to save time and money. It also improves driver productivity by monitoring their activities too. While it sounds creepy, it’s one solution to manage the volume issue that brought on the different pricing model.

Because of these innovations and other technologies, UPS has a more reliable delivery track record than USPS. If you’re shipping something valuable or time-sensitive, it’s your better option to ensure that it’ll make it to its destination.

To USPS’s credit, Priority Mail has come a long way. Deliveries are more reliable while offering significant savings for shipments within this same two to three-day time window. The downside, however, is that you’ll get charged for a tracking number if you take your packages to the post office. There is no fee if you buy postage online and print the labels.

Delivery Options

​Delivery Options of ups vs usps

Another thing to consider in choosing between ups vs usps is the delivery option. USPS has a distinct advantage over UPS when it comes to weekend shipments. It doesn’t cost your business more to have something delivered on Saturday. That’s not the case with UPS which they charge you extra for the service. USPS also gets a day jump on UPS because of this business model. That can make a big difference in customer satisfaction.

But UPS has some advantages too. Your customers will receive packages at their home reliably. If your mailbox is too small, you may be out of luck if you ordered something that won’t fit in it. That’ll mean a trip to the post office. Good luck if it’s open when you get off work. Many locations have limited hours, especially on the weekends. This could definitely impact your inventory control process.


Home-delivery via ups vs usps

Convenience takes several forms. As we mentioned above, USPS doesn’t make it easy to get items it couldn’t deliver. That point goes to UPS. Both carriers will pick up shipments at your home or office if you schedule it in advance. And that’s a good thing for the post office since you can’t put anything over 13 ounces in a mailbox.

You have to take it to a retail service counter—and wait in line for the clerk to ask you if there’s anything hazardous in it. Also, you must mail a piece on the date printed on the label if you bought postage online. Technically, they can reject it, leaving you out the cost.

As of this writing, USPS only offers online labels for premium services like Priority Mail. You can’t print them for first class pieces unless you use an application like Stamps.com. But it isn’t free, so it’ll add to your shipping costs. On a positive note, you can order mailing supplies like flat-rate boxes through the Postal Store for free.

However, the USPS wins when it comes to the convenience of dropping items in the mail as long as they are within the required weight limit. UPS drop-off boxes exist, but there aren’t nearly as many of them.

UPS vs USPS: Final Thoughts

Truck delivery via UPS vs USPS

USPS offers the clear advantage over UPS when it comes to smaller shipments. You’ll save time and money if you take advantage of delivery pickups too. The major carriers all know that they can’t compete on this score. The value of UPS exists with larger packages that you can’t take to the post office. They’re also the wiser choice if you ship irreplaceable items.

Now that the battle between ups vs usps is settled, its time to focus on your business.