Small parcel shipping stays true to its name as it mainly involves the shipment of small items with the help of a shipping carrier.
Generally speaking, if you intend to send items like toys for children or a fruit cake in a tin can, those would be considered small parcels.
And if you think small parcel shipping is not really relevant, in 2021, the global parcel shipping volume amounted to over 159 billion parcels.
By 2027, the volume is expected to reach 256 billion parcels – a trend that has only accelerated since Covid hit.
Now, let’s dive into the broader details of small parcel shipping.
- How do we define small parcel shipping?
When sending out a package, how can you tell whether that package will fall under the category of small parcel shipping or not?
For starters, let’s use this rule of thumb when creating a package:
If your package weighs anywhere in the range between 70 and 100 pounds or less, then you have a small parcel package.
Small parcel shipping goes beyond just determining the weight. Carriers like the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and DHL have specific guidelines in place when it comes to package measurements.
If your package exceeds the following criteria, then it would better qualify as a freight shipment than a small parcel shipment:
Packages can be as much as 108 inches (270 cm) in length individually, and each package can be as much as 165 inches (419 cm) in length and girth (which is twice the width and height) combined.
Going back to weight, dimensional weight calculations are done with a large size-to-weight ratio (length x width x height/166 = dim weight in pounds for American shipments).
Small parcel shipping is defined by the total size of the package. It is not exclusive to just the weight of the package to determine if it is a small parcel shipment.
- What are the best carriers for small parcel shipping?
USPS, UPS, and FedEx are three major carriers in the United States. They handle small parcel shipments for domestic shipments in the country, and they all have their advantages in specific areas of the shipping industry. You can also expect different levels of pricing to be offered by each carrier.
Choosing what you consider to be the best carrier depends on what your shipping needs are.
If you prefer to ship packages using a regional parcel carrier instead of a major carrier, you will have some options. CDL Last Mile Solutions, United Delivery Service, Lone Star Overnight, and On Trac are just some examples of regional carriers that offer same-day shipping and full tracking.
Regarding small parcel shipping rates, USPS offers the cheapest rates at $4, followed by UPS at $7. Lone Star Overnight and United Delivery Service each offer $10 rates. CDL Last Mile Solutions offers a $15 rate, and then last comes FedEx offering a $16 rate.
What are the benefits of small parcel shipping?
Now that you know what small parcel shipping is about, what are its benefits? There are too many to count, but let’s keep it to two main points.
First, small parcel shipping is easier to track than you’d expect. If you have the right shipping software in place you can perform your daily tasks in eCommerce with the help of shipping application program interfaces (APIs) to connect with carriers.
This simplifies the initially daunting task of tracking multiple small parcel shipments. If you have good tracking for small parcel shipments, you will end up having fewer shipments that will go undelivered or lost.
The other key benefit to small parcel shipping is that it is a cheaper option than freight shipping.
Having already discussed the small parcel shipping rates, no matter which carrier you choose, you will be spending less for this kind of shipping as opposed to freight shipping, which will cost you significantly more.
Especially if you are in the business of accepting high-volume orders, you will need to cut costs as much as you can.
Check out our post on freight shipping and all its potential benefits. Unless you run a large company that can manage the costs of freight shipping, it would be more financially responsible to use small parcel shipping instead.
Although it isn’t a main benefit, it is worth noting that small parcel shipping has the flexibility to use drop-off locations anywhere throughout North America.
Truck drivers typically use drop-off locations to drop off loads of boxes and then leave them in those locations for the day. Other drivers then come in during a multiple-hour window of the day to pick up those boxes, continuing the shipping process.
- What is the parcel shipping process?
Parcel shipping begins with the preparations you make for your shipment.
It is recommended to use new or sturdy boxes when preparing a package. Choose a container that is large enough to fit the item you are sending and include any protective materials if necessary, such as bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts.
Next, get 2” wide packaging tape to tape the box securely. After the parcel has been boxed, it must be weighed and measured.
If you primarily do business internationally, and particularly with Canada, then it is best to study the shipping process that SFI oversees.
Check out SFI’s Shipping & Logistics page to get a better understanding of SFI’s parcel package services. You will receive consultations and quotes on the packages you intend to ship into and out of Canada.
Small parcel packages are not bound by the rules of freight shipping. Instead, there is a separate process for small parcel shipping.
This process begins with you choosing the drop-off location that you want your package to be picked up. You can choose to either have your package picked up at the origin address, or a different location.
Next, your package will be examined on a conveyor belt and automatically sorted by machines. After this, your package is then loaded inside a truck.
Most parcel carriers typically deliver to a location or make multiple transfers of the package before final delivery.
Once you make final preparations in booking your shipment online, the small parcel shipping process is basically finished.
If you regularly send small packages, then it would be wise to use the small parcel shipping process to save both time and money. At the end of the day, eCommerce can be very rewarding if you know how to manage your shipping expenses.
For more information on eCommerce fulfillment, get up to speed on SFI’s shipping process and all its available services including returns management and quality control inspections.
SFI also specializes in small parcel shipping, so if you have any additional questions feel free to contact us!