What Is the Difference Between Standard Shipping and Flat Rate Shipping?

What Is the Difference Between Standard Shipping and Flat Rate Shipping?Typically, the cost of shipping a package depends on its shape, weight, size, and destination. Most postal services and courier companies offer at least two pricing options: standard shipping and flat rate shipping. What is the difference between these two shipping options and which is better?

When it comes to standard shipping, parcels are priced either by their gross weight or by their dimensional weight. The gross weight of a parcel is the total weight of its contents and packaging; the dimensional weight of a parcel is the multiplication of its dimensions (length, width and height) divided by shipping factor, which may vary depending on the courier. The shipping fee is based on whichever weight is greater: small but heavy packages are usually charged by actual weight, whereas big but lightweight packages are charged by dimensional weight.

The main disadvantage of standard shipping is that you need to have your parcel weighed and measured to calculate the shipping cost. To make things easier for consumers, postal and courier services offer flat rate pricing: they provide consumers with several box and envelope sizes with a fixed shipping cost that depends on the destination. To save money, people usually choose the smallest box or envelope size that the item they want to ship fits in.

Although flat rate shipping removes the hassle of weighing and measuring packages to estimate the shipping cost, it isn’t necessarily better than standard shipping. Both pricing options have their pros and cons, and it’s hard to say which is better without context.

With flat rate shipping, there’s no need to weigh and measure the parcel; all you need to do is make sure that the box or envelope is the right size for its contents. In addition, you always know beforehand how much you will have to pay because the shipping price is fixed.

However, fixed price comes with fixed delivery time, which means that when you need to ship something urgently, flat rate shipping isn’t the best option. You should also keep in mind that flat rate boxes and envelopes have a weight limit, so you won’t be able to ship a heavy item in a small box if it fits in the box but exceeds the weight limit.

With standard shipping, the price depends on the weight and dimensions of the parcel, as well as the distance it has to travel (shipping zone), so it differs every time. It can be frustrating, but this pricing option actually allows for more flexibility. Besides, you can use a shipping calculator to estimate the price, which makes things easier. If you go through with calculating the shipping price, you may find out that standard shipping is a bit cheaper than flat rate shipping in this particular case.

Generally, standard shipping is better for e-commerce retailers, while flat rate shipping is more suitable for individual customers, but in the end it’s your choice to make. Another rule of thumb is to ship small, heavy packages via flat rate (just make sure that the package does not exceed the weight limit) and large, lightweight items via standard shipping. However, this rule doesn’t take into account the distance.