Parcel Select Ground: Saving Money for Slower Service

Parcel Select Ground rates became much cheaper in 2022, but shippers should be aware of slower delivery timeframes than advertised
Parcel Select Ground packages may take longer than expected for USPS to deliver
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Let’s talk about Parcel Select Ground. Ground service has always been one of the Postal Service’s least-popular shipping options, mostly utilized for shippers sending hazardous materials such as lithium ion batteries, aerosols, and more. However, this isn’t the case of late. Like all shipping carriers, USPS raises prices every year, and generally speaking, each service they offer gets more expensive. This time, though, something different happened. When USPS announced the 2022 price changes, Parcel Select Ground service became a whole lot more attractive.

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Parcel Select Ground Rates Got Much Cheaper in 2022

Historically, USPS never priced Parcel Select Ground rates much differently from Priority Mail. For instance, if a package costed $10 to ship with Priority Mail, the Parcel Select Ground rate would often fall around $9.90, or somewhere around there. This insignificant cost difference led a lot of shippers to choose Priority Mail over ground service. Why wouldn’t they? For only several cents more, their package would get delivered faster (1-3 business days), and would get protection from built in-insurance that USPS doesn’t provide for ground shipments. However, all of this started to change when the 2022 USPS rate changes became public.

Under the new 2022 rates, Parcel Select Ground can shave multiple dollars off your shipping costs per package. Yes, you read that right—dollars, not cents. In some cases, it can even be up to 79% cheaper than Priority Mail! As a result, we’re seeing more and more shippers making the switch to Parcel Select Ground to save as much money as possible. The thing is, while we’re all about saving money, there’s still some things to keep in mind before you go switching all your shipments over to ground service.

The Advertised Delivery Timeframes for USPS Ground Service May Not Be Accurate

The Postal Service advertises that delivery times for ground shipments range anywhere between 2-8 business days. The majority of USPS ground shipments do fall into this delivery window, but speaking from our own experience, this isn’t always the case. In some situations, USPS ground shipments can take a whole lot longer to get delivered, with some deliveries occurring up to 2 weeks after the shipment date!

Generally speaking, delivery times for USPS ground shipments grow longer the further distance the package has to travel. For example, if you send a package via Parcel Select Ground from Los Angeles to San Diego, it won’t take long at all, since the package only needs to go about 120 miles. However, if you use Parcel Select Ground to ship the same package from Los Angeles to New York, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for delivery take up to 14 days…or even longer.

Shipments to Hawaii, Alaska, and Territories Take Even Longer

Since Hawaii, Alaska, and US Territories are so much further than destinations within the contiguous United States, Parcel Select shipments to these areas have been known to take even longer! In some cases, we’ve seen shipments going to these places that take up to a few weeks…which is a far cry from the 2-8 day delivery timeframe that USPS advertises. So, if you’re sending a ground shipment to one of these locations, we suggest letting your recipients know that their package may take longer to arrive than normal. This helps minimize friction by setting accurate expectations right off the bat.

Shippers Get What They Pay For

Trust us when we tell you: the rate changes to Parcel Select Ground make this service much more attractive than how it used to be. Saving money helps maximize your margins, and if you’re an eCommerce business owner, we can’t fault you for wanting to do that. If you’re considering switching over to ground service to save more money, we’d even say to go for it in a lot of cases! However, you should keep in mind that what you might gain in shaving costs, you might lose in customer satisfaction. In general, consumers expect packages to come quickly…and when a shipment can take up to two weeks or longer to arrive, it may not be the best look for your small business.

Does Shipping Speed Matter to You?

If shipping speed doesn’t matter to you and your business, then you’ve got nothing to worry about! Use Parcel Select Ground and save all the money on shipping that you can. However, if it does, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: if your recipients or customers are located relatively nearby—within 100 miles or so—then Parcel Select Ground is a great option. You’ll save way more money than you would if you spring for Priority Mail, and your packages should still arrive between 1-3 days, give or take.

On the other hand, if your package needs to travel a longer distance (like to the other side of the country, for instance), then we suggest ponying up the extra cash to ship with Priority Mail. It may cost more than ground service, but your shipment will reach its destination much faster, and you’ll be able to keep running your business without worrying about those anxiety-inducing “Where’s my shipment?” questions.

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  1. Kerri Stewart

    Can I use your shipping service to ship items that I sell on the mercari app platform?

  2. Jeri Thiede

    Just a thought – If you charge a buyer what the postage will be, what if you gave them the option of Priority to get faster, or Parcel Select Ground, which takes longer and is cheaper? I know I would often opt for the cheaper rate, which I have done on some of my online purchases. That would surely take care of the “where is my shipment question.”

    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Jeri – that’s a perfectly fine (and common) option for checkout on a lot of eCommerce stores! Letting the customer decide for their shipping speed is a great and easy way to manage their expectations. This usually is done in tandem with them paying for shipping costs themselves, too.


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