Small business shipping companies help businesses deliver the goods their customers order. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retail e-commerce sales totaled nearly $200 billion during the third quarter of 2020, representing 13.5 percent of retail sales in the United States. Shipping companies help small businesses maintain good customer relationships by delivering orders on time and at reasonable rates, and some even help businesses by providing logistical assistance and managing inventory.
Since shipping companies play a critical role in the small business supply chain, we evaluated over a dozen providers to find the best shipping companies for small businesses. We considered each company’s reputation, how much shipping costs, how quickly goods can be delivered, and how easy it is to do business with them. Keep reading to find out which one might work best for your needs.
The 7 Best Shipping Companies for Small Business of 2021
Best Overall: United States Postal Service
Why We Chose It: We chose the United States Postal Service as the best overall shipping company for small businesses because ships goods both domestically and internationally, offers discounts and loyalty credits to small businesses, and delivers goods within 2–9 days on average. Also, the USPS has free application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow small businesses to easily add shipping tools to their websites.
Long history of operations
Volume-based discounts and loyalty credits are available
Shipping takes 2–9 days
Free APIs are available to integrate shipping tools into small business websites
Deliveries on Sundays and holidays typically come with an added cost
Founded in 1775, the United States Postal Service (USPS) was selected as our choice for best overall shipping company for small businesses because it delivers mail both internationally as well as domestically, packages arrive within 2–9 days, and you can even get some deliveries on Sundays and holidays in major U.S. markets (with an added fee).
As is standard for small business shipping companies, the USPS shipping costs vary based on package size, delivery location, and delivery speed. For example, the retail rate for a Priority Mail small flat rate box shipped domestically with delivery in 1–3 business days is $8.30. Businesses can also receive discounted pricing and loyalty credits. For example, companies using the online Click-N-Ship service from the USPS can earn spending-based shipping credits.
Starting in January 2021, businesses using the Click-N-Ship service from the USPS can earn the following loyalty credits:
- Base Loyalty Program: $40 credit per $500 spent (automatic enrollment)
- Silver Tier: $50 credit per $500 spent (enrollment with a spend of $10,000 or more on Priority Mail as well as Priority Mail Express shipping labels the prior calendar year)
- Gold Tier: Commercial Base Pricing (enrollment with a spend of $20,000 or more on Priority Mail as well as Priority Mail Express shipping labels the prior calendar year)
It’s also easy for businesses to use free USPS APIs to integrate shipping tools into business websites, which is a plus.
Best for Small Packages: Sendle
Why We Chose It: Sendle is the small business shipping company best for small packages because it guarantees it will beat the price charged by major carriers to ship domestic packages up to 20 pounds. Plus, shipping is 100% carbon neutral.
No subscription fees or contracts
Price guarantee is available
Shipping is 100% carbon neutral
Rigorous certification as a B Corporation was achieved
International shipping isn’t available
Packages must be no more than 20 pounds
Integration with Amazon is not yet available (as of December 2020)
Company has only been in business since 2014
Sendle is an Australia-based small business shipping company that has been in business since 2014 and offers shipping throughout the United States. We selected it as our choice for best for small packages because it ships small packages (up to 20 pounds) domestically throughout the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and it comes with a guarantee that it will beat its competitors’ prices for packages up to 20 pounds.
The standard cost to ship a small package is $8.29 (a penny less than the retail price charged by the USPS for a similar package). Sendle also offers volume-based discounts, with the cost going down to $7.56 for businesses shipping at least 200 packages a month. Plus, there aren’t any contracts or subscription fees.
Although Sendle doesn’t offer an express shipping service, most packages are delivered within 1–3 business days. Sendle makes it easy for even low-volume e-commerce businesses to use its shipping, as it offers free integrations with Shopify, eBay, and Etsy. Plus, free integrations to Amazon and WooCommerce are in the works (as of December 2020).
Additionally, Sendle achieved certification as a B Corporation, which signifies Sendle’s commitment to serving the good of the world. In fact, shipping with Sendle is 100% carbon neutral.
Best for Large Packages: UPS
Why We Chose It: We chose UPS as the small business shipping company best for large packages because it offers competitive rates (large flat rate boxes start at $17.50), plus the company has a great reputation and has tools designed specifically for small businesses.
Retail cost of a large flat rate box starts at a low rate of $17.50
Tools designed specifically for small businesses are available
Same day delivery available in some cases
Some APIs can’t be used on customer-facing websites
UPS is a shipping company founded in 1907 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, that delivers packages worldwide. We chose UPS as the small business shipping company best for large packages because it provides excellent shipping resources in addition to charging competitive rates. UPS can help you figure out how to prepare your goods for shipment and even provides step-by-step instructions on palletizing your shipments.
The retail cost of a large flat rate box shipped domestically with UPS starts at $17.50 (varies depending on shipping speed). You’ll pay a retail price of $21.10 for a similar large flat-rate box from the USPS. Small businesses can get discounted pricing from UPS, with shipping incentives ranging from 20% to 50%, depending on the desired shipping speed and the small business’s average weekly shipping volume.
UPS has many tools to help you figure out the cost of your shipments and the delivery speed. Domestic ground delivery with UPS takes about 1–5 days, with many options providing deliveries in three days or less. Plus, UPS also offers next day and even same-day delivery, in some instances.
While not all of the UPS APIs can be used on customer-facing websites, UPS has other services tailored for small businesses. These services include dashboards to give you insight into your shipments and tools built explicitly for e-commerce businesses.
Best for International Shipping: DHL Express
Why We Chose It: We chose DHL Express as the small business shipping company best for international shipping because of its expertise in this area and the fact that it has a wide variety of resources specifically designed to help small businesses engage in global trade.
International shipping expertise
Excellent resources to help businesses ship internationally
Detailed service and rate guide
Many surcharges and optional service fees
DHL was founded in 1969 and is a subsidiary of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, a leading logistics company headquartered in Germany. The company’s small business shipping solutions are provided by the DHL Express division. The DHL Express headquarters are located in Plantation, Florida. We chose it as the best for international shipping because that is its area of expertise.
The company has excellent resources for companies new to global business including a primer about international trade that contains the basics about customs, importing, and exporting. DHL also provides a detailed international shipping guide that includes instructions about the things you need to do to ensure you have an excellent international shipping experience.
Its service and rate guide provides detailed information about how much shipping costs with DHL. Costs vary widely based on your package’s size, whether it’s an import or export, the shipping speed, surcharges, and any optional services you choose. You’ll need to get a quote or use DHL’s rate guide to calculate your shipping costs. Pay attention to the details, including the terms of your shipping agreement, so you’re not hit with any surprises.
DHL’s shipping speed varies depending on the shipping details and how much you’re willing to pay. However, if speed is what you need, DHL Express has several plans to make the delivery by the end of the soonest possible business day.
Best for e-Commerce Business: ShipBob
Why We Chose It: We chose ShipBob as the small business shipping company that’s best for e-commerce because it offers a full suite of e-commerce logistics services. It will also take care of warehousing and inventory management. Plus, small businesses may pay less for shipping than if they would on their own since ShipBob has negotiated bulk discount rates with the four major carriers.
Includes a full suite of fulfillment services
Provides bulk shipping discounts from the four major carriers
Direct integration to Amazon isn’t available (as of December 2020)
Company has only been in business since 2014
ShipBob is a third-party logistics (3PL) company founded in 2014 and headquartered in Chicago. We chose it as our best for e-commerce because the company provides a full suite of e-commerce logistics and shipping solutions to small businesses including shipping, warehousing, and inventory management.
One of the things that made ShipBob stand-out from the competition was that its transparent pricing includes not only the cost of shipping but also the total cost you’ll pay to fulfill your customer’s orders, store your goods, and manage your inventory.
You’ll pay a one-time implementation fee to sign up (you need to get a quote), plus fees for ShipBob to receive your inventory (e.g., $25 per person-hour for the first two hours), warehouse your inventory (e.g., $5 per bin a month), and ship each order (discounted carrier rates, with free picking after the first five orders). Plus, shipping boxes are free. This makes ShipBob great for e-commerce businesses, particularly those needing logistical help.
Orders placed before noon will be shipped the same day, with two-day delivery available. ShipBob has negotiated discounted bulk rates from USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL for domestic and international shipping that might be less than you could get on your own. Plus, ShipBob will give you a quote from all the major carriers for each order, making it easier to find the best shipping rate.
The e-commerce software offered by ShipBob is free, with integrations to many key e-commerce applications. This includes integrations to e-commerce platforms and marketplaces like Walmart, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, and more. One drawback is that there isn’t a direct integration to Amazon.
Best for Quick Shipping: FedEx
Why We Chose It: We chose FedEx as the small business shipping company best for quick shipping since it makes standard home deliveries every day of the week, including Saturdays and Sundays. This means packages could be delivered up to two days faster than other carriers.
Home deliveries occur every day in the U.S.
Discounts and perks are available
Small business grants are issued annually
Small package shipping costs are higher than USPS
FedEx is a shipping company founded in 1973 and headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. We chose FedEx as best for quick shipping because not only does it ship both internationally and to all 50 U.S states, including home deliveries on Saturdays and Sundays, but domestic FedEx Ground delivery takes 1–5 days in the contiguous United States and 3–7 days for Alaska and Hawaii. With every day delivery, packages might be delivered up to two days quicker than with other carriers.
In addition to offering quick shipping, FedEx has a great small business resource center. FedEx offers shipping discounts, plus discounts on printing, money management tools, and other perks. Plus, FedEx holds a small business grant contest each year, with 12 awards totaling $250,000 issued in 2020.
Shipping costs vary depending on delivery speed, which FedEx clearly displays on its website. Although you’ll need to get a quote to figure out precisely what it’ll cost you to ship your goods, we found the cheapest rate to ship a small box was $12.05 with 3-day delivery. Although this cost is slightly higher than the retail rate of $8.30 you would pay with USPS, your packages could be delivered quicker since FedEx makes home deliveries on both Saturday and Sunday.
Other value-added services small businesses receive from FedEx are tools to help them set up and grow their online businesses, streamline the fulfillment and shipping process, and provide customer support.
Best Affordable Option: EasyPost
Why We Chose It: We chose EasyPost as the small business shipping company offering the best affordable option because it’s a platform that allows you to compare the shipping costs and speeds of more than 100 carriers. EasyPost’s API is free to use for up to 50,000 shipments per year, making it easy for small businesses to find the most affordable shipping option.
Free API for up to 50,000 shipments per year
Ability to shop prices with 100+ carriers
Helps simplify, automate, and control the shipping process
Quote required for 50,000+ shipments
Doesn’t directly ship goods
EasyPost is a shipping technology company founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco. It’s our choice for most affordable because, with the EasyPost API, you can compare rates and shipping speeds across dozens of carriers. EasyPost supports integrations with over 100 carriers, making it easier for small businesses to find the most affordable shipping solution. Plus, there’s no cost for businesses shipping 50,000 or fewer packages a year.
Rather than directly ship goods, EasyPost offers APIs to help small businesses simplify, automate, and control their shipping processes. The APIs developed by EasyPost allows businesses to compare rates and ship goods across dozens of carriers using a single integration, track shipments in real-time, verify addresses, and protect packages with insurance.
There is no cost to create an account with EasyPost, and the APIs can be set up and integrated as soon as a day.
The base Developer package offered by EasyPost is free and allows you to check prices, review shipping speeds, create shipping labels, and track shipments for 50,000 packages a year. If you have a higher shipping volume, you’ll need to get a quote from EasyPost on its Enterprise package. However, the package volume included in the Developer package should be good for most small businesses.
We evaluated over a dozen providers to find the best shipping companies for small businesses to meet a variety of needs. Shipping costs vary based on the package’s size, where it’s being sent, and how quickly it needs to be delivered. Most carriers can get packages delivered within one to five business days, and some will even deliver packages to homes in the U.S. on Sundays.
While all of the small business shipping companies on our list are good options, we chose the USPS as the best overall shipping company for small business because it has a long history of operations and typically offers the best rates and quickest speeds to meet the shipping needs of most small businesses.
|The 7 Best Shipping Companies for Small Business|
|Shipping Company||Why We Picked It||Domestic Delivery Speed|
|United States Postal Service||Offers the best rates and quickest speeds for most small business shipping needs||2 to 9 days on average|
|Sendle||Guarantees it will beat the retail price of the major carriers for small packages up to 20 pounds||1 to 3 business days on average|
|UPS||Offers lower pricing than other carriers for large packages||1 to 5 business days is standard|
|DHL Express||Shares its international shipping expertise with small businesses who need to ship globally||Time-critical next-day delivery available|
|ShipBob||Provides a full suite of logistic solutions to e-commerce businesses, including shipping||2-day delivery available|
|FedEx||Delivers domestic shipments to homes every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday||1 to 5 business days is standard|
|EasyPost||Allows small businesses to find the most affordable price from 100+ carriers||As fast as carriers allow|
How Do Most Small Businesses Ship Goods?
Ground shipping is the most common way for most small businesses to ship their goods. The major carriers in the United States used by most small businesses to ship their goods are the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
In 2019, the USPS had 6.2 billion in shipping and package volume. UPS delivers about 5.5 billion packages every year, while FedEx delivers more than 4 billion packages a year. Finally, DHL Express handles shipments across the globe, with an annual volume of 160 million shipments.
How Much Do Shipping Companies Cost?
The costs charged by shipping companies vary based on the package’s size, where it’s being sent, and how quickly it needs to get there. You can expect to pay an average retail price of $8 to $12 to ship a small package and $17 to $21 to ship a large package domestically, with delivery speeds ranging from one to five business days.
Shop around and carefully weigh your options to find the best possible shipping rate.
What Shipping Options Do Small Businesses Have?
Small businesses should use a shipping company when they sell goods that need to be shipped to their customers. Although the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and DHL are the largest carriers in the United States, there are other options. Small businesses can find companies offering APIs that make it easy to compare shipping prices across multiple carriers, so they’re better able to reduce their shipping costs.
What Shipping Features Are Available for Small Businesses?
Not only can small businesses send things in the mail, but the major U.S. mail carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL) also offer services designed specifically for small businesses. A few examples of small business shipping company resources include:
- Grants offered by FedEx to help small businesses grow
- Resources created by DHL to teach small businesses how to ship their goods globally
- Assistance and advice on direct mail advertising provided by the USPS
- Help with small businesses financing from UPS in partnership with Kabbage
How We Chose the Best Shipping Companies for Small Business
To find the best shipping companies for small businesses, we reviewed over a dozen providers to learn how much their shipping costs, how quickly you can get your goods shipped, and how easy it is to do business with them. We also evaluated the reputations of each small business shipping company. The best shipping companies offer affordable rates and quick shipping speeds, plus they have tools and resources specifically designed for small businesses.
All of our small business shipping company selections are reputable companies that can help you get your goods shipped affordably, quickly, and reliably.
U.S. Census Bureau News. "Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales." Accessed December 4, 2020.
Certified B Corporation. "About B Corps." Accessed December 4, 2020.
Postal Facts. "A Decade of Facts & Figures." Accessed December 4, 2020.
FedEx. "Statistical Books." Accessed December 4, 2020.
UPS. "UPS Facts and Figures." Accessed December 4, 2020.
DHL. "DHL Worldwide Express." Accessed December 4, 2020.