What Is Ground Shipping and How Can You Benefit from It?

What Is Ground Shipping and How Can You Benefit from It? A lot of people equate ground shipping with slow delivery. While it is true that ground shipping is slower than other shipping methods like shipping by air or by sea, it has a number of benefits, so you shouldn’t count it out in situations where delivery speed is not your top priority. Let’s take a closer look at ground shipping services provided by major carriers and figure out how you can benefit from them.

Ground shipping is just what is says on the tin: it is any shipping that involves packages or freight being transported via roads or railroads, i.e. by land travel. More often than not, ground shipping is the most cost-effective shipping method when it comes to domestic shipping, as long as your shipment is not oversized.

Ground shipping didn’t use to have the best reputation back in the day because shipping carriers and logistics companies didn’t have the resources and infrastructure to enable timely shipping via ground. However, modern logistics solutions allow to deliver packages via ground faster while keeping the cost of ground shipping affordable. Of course, ground shipping will never be as fast as air shipping, but it doesn’t need to be; it just needs to be fast enough for its price range.

In addition to lower shipping costs, ground shipping has a number of other advantages. For example, it can more easily accommodate large and/or heavy parcels (although you should keep in mind that, as we’ve already mentioned above, shipping oversized parcels can be quite costly even taking into account lower ground shipping rates).

Ground shipping is also less affected by weather than air or sea delivery, with the exception of natural disasters like floods or hurricanes. Due to ground shipping being more reliable and predictable than air delivery, many postal and courier companies are able to offer real-time tracking of ground shipments. Finally, ground shipping allows to deliver certain items that are restricted or prohibited in airmail such as aerosol cans.

That’s not to say ground shipping is without its drawbacks. For instance, it can’t guarantee same day, overnight or two-day shipping, and when it comes to international delivery, it is often simply impossible to deliver shipments solely via ground due to objective geographical reasons. Despite its drawbacks, many people consider ground shipping their go-to option when they need affordable and reliable domestic shipping services and are not pressed for time.

Today, most major shipping carriers offer cost-effective ground shipping services. For example, the United States Postal Service has USPS Retail Ground. It is a ground shipping service perfect for delivering thick envelopes and packages that are not required to be mailed using First-Class Mail. It is considered the best option for delivering non-time-sensitive gifts and merchandise within the United States, including Puerto Rico.

USPS Retail Ground delivers to all addresses in the United States, including PO boxes. The cost of shipping is based on parcel weight (note that dimensional weight pricing may be applied to parcels larger than 1 cubic foot) and destination (zone). It includes free tracking.

Delivery time is 2–5 days withing the contiguous United States, although certain types of items (hazardous materials, live animals) and items shipped to/from Alaska or Hawaii may take up to 8 days to arrive.

In addition to USPS Retail Ground, the USPS has one more ground service called USPS Media Mail, but it is available only for certain types of items such as books, printed educational materials, etc.

FedEx offers two affordable ground shipping services: FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground Shipping. Both deliver throughout the United States in 1-5 business days depending on the shipping distance (3-7 business days for delivery to/from Alaska and Hawaii). The main difference between the two services is that FedEx Ground Shipping delivers to businesses Monday to Friday, while FedEx Home Delivery delivers to residential addresses every day of the week. FedEx also has an international ground service, FedEx International Ground, that ships between the United States and Canada in 2–7 business days and delivers Monday to Friday.

Finally, UPS Ground is a cost-effective ground shipping service offered by, you guessed it, UPS. It delivers to residential and business addresses in all 50 states and Puerto Rico in 1-5 business days (90% of all packages get delivered in three days or less). Saturday delivery is available for most residential addresses.