There are three main factors that most e-commerce businesses look for when it comes to shipping. That is affordability, reliability, and flexibility. With regional parcel carriers, online merchants may very well be able to get all three.
While national carriers such as USPS and UPS are great options for delivering across the U.S., adding a regional parcel carrier into your carrier-mix can allow you to potentially save money and deliver faster within certain areas of the country.
What are Regional Parcel Carriers
Regional parcel carriers are essentially shipping companies that only serve a particular area and/or a particular set of states.
While national carriers can deliver your products to customers all across the country, regional parcel carriers specialize in delivering to places close to the origin of the shipment. In terms of shipping zones, these shipments typically don’t exceed zone 4.
Because they serve a smaller area, they’re able to offer fast and affordable shipping rates to e-commerce businesses.
Not only do they work directly with e-commerce businesses, but they are also used by fulfillment centers, 3rd Party Logistics companies (3PLs), and also with national carriers when they get too overwhelmed by orders.
Who Are The U.S. Regional Parcel Carriers
There are plenty of regional parcel carriers across the U.S. that may be a good fit for your e-commerce business.
Some of the largest regional carriers include Lasership, which serves the entire east coast, and OnTrac which serves the entire west coast. Some options serve states in the midwest and options like LSO specializes in delivering inside the state of Texas.
There are even states where multiple regional parcel carriers operate, giving you even more options.
|Regional Carrier Name||States Served||Shipping Services Offered|
|LaserShip||CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IN, KY, MA, MD, MI, NC, NH, NY, NJ, OH, PA, RI, SC, VA, WV||Same-day, next-day, and two-day delivery as well as custom routing.|
|Ontrac||AZ, CA, CO, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA||Same-day ground shipping, Mid-day service, DirectPost|
|PITT OHIO||DC, DE, IN, KY, MD, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, WV||Truckload (TL), Less-Than-Truckload (LTL), custom routing|
|Lone Star Overnight (LSO)||Texas||Deliveries On Saturday, Early Morning, next-day, two-day delivery|
|United Delivery Service (UDS)||IL, IN, WI, Iowa||Saturday/Sunday shipping, same-day and next-day delivery|
|Spee-Dee delivery service||IL, IA, MN, ND, SD, WI, MI, MS, NE||Same-day, next-day, return shipping|
|CDL Last Mile Solutions||NY, NJ, CT, PA, DE, DC, MD, VA||Same-day, next-day, and overnight delivery, white glove delivery services|
|GLS (formerly GSO)||WA, OR, ID, NV, UT, CA, AZ, NM||Next-day, overnight, early morning, and Saturday delivery|
|Courier Express||AL, FL, GA, NC, SC, TN, VA||Same-day, next-day delivery|
|United Delivery Service||IL, IN, WI, IA||Same-day, next-day delivery, Saturday/Sunday delivery|
|IntelliQuick Delivery||AZ, WA, OR, ID, NV, CA, NM||Same-day Delivery, Final Mile Logistics, specialized freight|
One important aspect to note is that certain states don’t have a limited presence regarding regional parcel carriers or no presence at all. Knowing where your customers are will be crucial for selecting which regional parcel carrier you want to work with.
Benefits Of Using Regional Parcel Carriers
Using regional parcel carriers for your e-commerce business has three main benefits.
Lower cost of shipping
- Because regional parcel carriers don’t travel as far and have less overhead and operating expenses to cover, they are able to offer cheaper shipping rates. You may also be able to avoid residential, peak, and weekend surcharges depending on the carrier and the type of package you’re shipping.
Deliver Your Products Faster
- Because regional parcel carriers have less distance to travel, they can often get your products delivered to customers faster than a national carrier. As highlighted in the table above, many of them offer same-day delivery and they also offer multiple pickup times so you can fulfill and ship orders faster.
Gives Your Customers More Flexibility
- With regional parcel carriers, customers can often get the ability to choose the exact time of the day they want to receive their order. Some even offer white glove services and “Collect on Delivery” as a payment option.
When To Use Regional Parcel Carriers
The best time to use a regional parcel carrier is when your e-commerce business wants to lower shipping costs and transit times within a certain part of the country.
Before signing up for one, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve studied your customer and shipping data to see if a bulk of customers come from a particular region. If you’re primarily shipping on the West Coast, Ontrac may be a good solution, whereas if you’re mostly shipping to the east coast, LaserShip might be a better choice.
If you need additional services like white glove delivery or inside delivery because you’re shipping large or specialized products, or if you’re selling perishable items and can’t travel long distances, it may also be time to consider using a regional parcel carrier.
Factors To Consider When Using A Regional Parcel Carrier
While there are substantial benefits to using a regional carrier, there are a couple of factors to consider before adding one to your carrier-mix.
- Volume Discounts: When you ship with a particular carrier enough, you may qualify for bulk shipping discounts. By spreading out your shipments across different carriers, you may not reach the threshold to achieve that discount.
- Added Logistics: You may need to make changes to your current tech stack to set up orders via the regional parcel carrier of your choice and print shipping labels for them.
However, Shippo users can add both national and regional carriers into their carrier-mix and compare prices from both within a single dashboard. You can compare discount prices from national carriers through Shippo’s master accounts alongside pre-negotiated discounts your business has from regional carriers.
Shippo also curbs potential logistical problems. By adding your regional parcel carrier account, you can compare rates and print shipping labels from regional or national carriers all in your current tech stack through Shippo’s API. This helps you stay organized while leveraging all your shipping options.
National Carriers vs. Regional Carriers
There are a few notable differences between national and regional parcel carriers.
- Delivery Distance: Regional carriers can only deliver within a certain part of the country, while national carriers such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx can deliver all across the U.S. National carriers can also deliver packages across borders and overseas, which makes them the more flexible option if you serve international markets. However, if you have products housed in fulfillment centers in different parts of the U.S., it may make sense to have accounts with different regional carriers.
- Different Services: Both carriers offer value-added services on top of simply delivering the package to your customers’ door step. However, regional carriers can sometimes go the extra mile and offer threshold or white glove delivery. They may also be able to offer services such as “collect on delivery,” which involves the carrier accepting the payment from the customer. These added services can help make your customers more inclined to order your products.
- Cost of Shipping: If you are shipping your products via frieght, you may be surprised to find that regional parcel carriers can save you 10%-40% when compared to national carriers such as UPS and FedEx. However, if you’re just looking to ship individual parcels, the cost of doing so may differ from product to product. Depending on the weight, size, and distance the product is traveling, there can be times that regional parcel carriers are less expensive and vice versa. If you ship a bulk of your orders through a single regional carrier you may be able to negotiate a discount per label. However, that same logic applies for national carriers. You can also automatically get discounts to national carriers such as USPS and UPS when you use Shippo.
There are other factors that differentiate the two options for shipping your products, but best practice is to always have both in your arsenal. By doing so you can give your customers more options on how they want to recieve their order which in turn give them more confidence to place an order in the first place.
How To Create Shipping Labels For Regional Parcel Carriers
There are a few different ways to create shipping labels for regional parcel carriers, but one of the easiest ways is through Shippo.
Shippo users can connect their regional parcel carrier account to be able to compare rates and transit times alongside national carriers all within a single dashboard. The Shippo API can also be connected to your current tech stack so you generate labels for regional parcel carriers with minimal logistical challenges.
Regional parcel carriers supported by Shippo include OnTrac, LSO, and CDL to name a few. Also, discounts that have already been negotiated between your e-commerce business and the carrier can be incorporated into your Shippo account so you’re always getting the best price.
Sign up to Shippo for free today to start comparing rates and service levels from regional parcel carriers all across the country.