Everyone knows about the three major shipping carriers that cover the entire United States and beyond: USPS, UPS, and FedEx. However, did you know that there are a litany of other carriers that service smaller, more concentrated areas? These are called regional carriers, and in some cases, they even offer better rates and faster delivery than the major carriers! Here’s why it might make sense to use a regional carrier for your small business.
Table of Contents
- What is a Regional Carrier?
- Why You Should Consider Using a Regional Shipping Carrier for Your Business
- Shipping Software May Still Be More Cost-Effective
What is a Regional Carrier?
Before we get into anything, let’s talk about what a regional carrier is. In a nutshell, a regional carrier is a smaller shipping carrier that only services a specific area (aka a region). The main goal of regional carriers is to focus on a smaller geographical network to offer direct-to-consumer delivery that is sometimes both cheaper and faster than what the major carriers offer. As a result, more eCommerce brands have partnered with them in recent years.
A few examples of regional carriers are OnTrac, LaserShip, and GSO. If you’ve ever ordered anything online, there’s a good chance that a regional carrier brought it to your door! For instance, Lasership handles the majority of last-mile delivery for Amazon parcels in the Northeast part of the United States.
Why You Should Consider Using a Regional Shipping Carrier for Your Business
There are three main benefits that regional carriers offer over the major shipping companies: lower costs, faster delivery timeframes, and more flexibility for your customers. Here’s a little blurb about each one of those points:
If your customers are in a specific region, the main benefit of a using regional carrier is enjoying lower costs. Using a regional carrier can help your business save money because the carriers themselves have lower operating costs, and they focus only on regional contracts. In a lot of cases, partnering with a regional carrier for even some shipments can end up saving you more money than just relying on one major carrier for all your shipments.
In addition, the major carriers often impose surcharges and raise prices to offset higher volumes during weekends and peak seasons. On the other hand, regional carriers have been known to keep prices steady throughout the year. So, working with a regional carrier to carry out weekend delivery or during peak season can help you avoid nasty surcharges that eat into your margins.
Faster Delivery Timeframes
As long as you’re shipping with a certain region, regional carriers can often get packages to your customers faster than the major carriers can. In fact, most of them offer same-day delivery! You should keep in mind that same-day delivery with a regional carrier obviously costs more than standard delivery. Still, it’s nice to have that option if you need it.
For context, same-day delivery with a regional carrier will often still be cheaper than paying for same-day delivery with a carrier like FedEx or UPS.
The last benefit of working with a regional carrier is the flexibility they provide you and your customers. For example, a lot of regional carriers offer multiple pickup times on the same day. This provides more options for when orders can be fulfilled, and ultimately, delivered to your customers.
Moreover, a lot of regional carriers also offer “extra” value-added perks that set them apart from the major carriers. For example, they might offer white glove service for delivering high-value items that are too expensive to ship with USPS. They also might offer the ability to deliver heavy items like furniture to both residential and commercial addresses.
Shipping Software May Still Be More Cost-Effective
Even with the lower prices that regional carriers offer, you still may save more money in the long run by using shipping software to buy discounted postage online. Shipping software companies have large customer bases of individual shippers and businesses that they bring to the major carriers. Therefore, USPS and UPS have entered into partnerships with these outfits to provide postage at the deepest discounts possible. It’s no different from buying a T-shirt at Costco for $10, while your neighborhood clothing store sells it for $30.
This level of discounted rates for USPS is known as Commercial Pricing, while the program for discounted UPS rates is the Digital Access Program. You’ll be able to access these special rates with nearly any shipping software company you choose. Plus, on top of the savings, you’ll also be able to access special services from USPS that you’ll never see at the Post Office, such as USPS Priority Mail Cubic.
While some regional carriers like OnTrac and LaserShip are featured in some shipping software options, it’s not as consistent, and your options will undoubtedly be limited.
Looking for the right regional carrier for your business?
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