The United States Postal Service (USPS) has filed a formal request with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to simplify its ground parcel services starting on July 9, 2023.
If you have ever shipped with USPS, you know that its ground parcel services have been confusing to understand the differences.
For years, the U.S. Postal Service has offered different ground-level services that fundamentally provided similar delivery speed, but with each having nuances that differentiate it from the others.
Here are some primary differences between the services:
- USPS First Class Package Service (FCPS): For small parcels under 1lbs.
- USPS Retail Ground: Standard ground shipping at a post office or online at their web portal, with no minimum volume requirement.
- USPS Parcel Select: Shipping service for high-volume shippers, but was often available on marketplaces and third-party shipping platforms.
The latter two were frequently the most confusing because of the wide availability of Parcel Select on shipping platforms (not on the USPS website).
Most small shippers have already access to these heavily discounted high-volume rates, making USPS Retail Ground only a viable option for select shipments such as hazardous materials or live animals.
There were other minor differences, but fundamentally, these three services in many ways were very similar, making it confusing to understand which one to use when.
This is the change that is coming. Originally announced last year, the U.S. Postal Service has now submitted a request to the PRC to simplify its ground service options into one product called USPS Ground Advantage.
Why the New Name?
USPS said the First Class Package Service brand name — originally proposed to become the new name for the new simplified ground offering — had become too synonymous with lightweight packages.
Therefore, based on market research, the new name will give USPS a powerful branding that more closely aligns with competitive ground service offered by UPS and FedEx.
The new USPS Ground Advantage will also utilize tiered pricing for lightweight packages under 1 lb, and the standard per-pound pricing on packages from 1 lb to 70 lbs.
Don’t panic as changing the pricing levels is only a technicality as USPS has already been pricing lightweight packages at the same rates within each proposed tier. In other words, for example, a 5 oz and 7 oz package are already priced at the same rate today.
USPS Ground Advantage will no longer support Certified Mail or Certificate of Mailing options, which will continue to be available with USPS Priority Mail services. In its filing, the Postal Service said these options were not frequently used by package shippers.
All USPS Ground Advantage shipments will have tracking and up to $100 insurance included in the base rate, again aligning its ground package offering more with UPS and FedEx.
Cubic pricing tiers will also be available for this new service, which may be offered by some third-party shipping platforms as a means to lower shipping rates further.
Other changes include an alignment of zones and dimensional weighting, and the elimination of Machinable/Non-machinable pricing tables into one pricing table.
The new USPS Ground Advantage service will continue to have retail pricing for shipping at post offices and discounted pricing (Commercial Pricing) for those that ship with online shipping platforms.
USPS said that the initial rates for USPS Ground Advantage will closely align with existing ground package rates that went into effect in January.
The Postal Service already knew it was heading in this direction and established 2023 rates that could easily be combined in its consolidated offering.
USPS Ground Package Service Simplification Overdue
It’s fair to say this ground service simplification by the United States Postal Service has been long overdue by finally aligning its ground service offering more closely with those of UPS and FedEx.
Now with USPS, shippers have the choice of easy-to-understand service levels:
- USPS Priority Mail Express: Guaranteed overnight delivery
- USPS Priority Mail: Estimated 2 to 3 day delivery to most of the U.S.
- USPS Advantage Ground: Estimated 2-5 day delivery to most of the U.S.
- USPS Media Mail: Estimated 2-8 day delivery to most of the U.S. of eligible media items
The bottom line, this is another step in the right direction by USPS to offer small business shippers a more simplified service offering. Here is the USPS PRC filing, which details the pricing structure for the new service.
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