Tag Archives: UPS vs. Post Office comparison

Etsy Store Shipping: Should you ship UPS Ground or U.S. Postal Service for a cube box under 8 pounds…and notes on Parcel Post

This is part of a series of post I’m writing about different shipping options once you make a sale on your Etsy Vintage Store.

My first shipping post compared rates for a shipment weighing 2 pounds or less and the options using U.S. Post Office Priority Mail and REGIONAL Priority Mail service.


For this post, I compare U.S. Postal Service (USPS) versus United Parcel Service’s (UPS) Ground option, for an order weighing under 8 pounds.


The items in this case is a set of 4, Mid-Century stoneware salad plates by Lauffer, heading from the West Coast to the East Coast (New York).

After I bubble-wrapped each plate, I placed cardboard in between each then again bubble wrapped (for extra protection!) the entire set.

The package of plates were then placed in a  box surrounded with additional recycled newsprint.

The box for this order measured 11″x11″x10″ — basically a cube shaped box.  The final package weighed 7.8 lbs.

If I ship this item via  USPS Priority Mail, the shipping cost would have been $27.25.

Under 8 lbs USPS Priority Mail

If I elected to ship this package using  USPS “Parcel Select”, the post office’s most economical option (which can take up to 9 days) the cost was $23.93.

To me, this was not a big enough difference to ship USPS Parcel Post, especially that I would have to buy insurance, and would not have a detailed tracking of the shipment.

Under 8 lbs USPS Parcel Post

Note:  I did ship a much larger, but LIGHTER object in the past, where the USPS / Post office Parcel Post option was the best rate.  More on this at the end of this post.

The next option to review was UPS Ground Service.

I already have a UPS account so this was easy enough to do, just by copying and pasting the address from the ETSY order to my  UPS “Create a Shipment” page.

 UPS weight is entered in whole numbers, so the weight rounds off to 8 lbs.

Under 8 lbs UPS Ground

The  UPS Ground rate was $16.64 — by far the most economical option.

Note: Rates depend on your service terms, and fluctuates depending on fuel surcharges, delivery to business address or residential (residential addresses are usually a few dollars more).

The UPS $16.64 rate comes with tracking and and an automatic $100 value for each box.  You can purchase insurance though UPS if your box value is over $100 e, e.g., for $300, $500 and even for thousands of dollars, if needed.

The bottom line?

Don’t rely on just one service option to mail out your orders.  Always have more than ONE option for shipping.

While the U.S. Post Office is typically the better option for small easy to ship objects (especially those that can fit within their flat rate Priority and Regional Priority Mail boxes), I’m finding that UPS rates can be more economical for heavier objects traveling long distances, if it does not fit in the USPS flat rate box options.

Whether UPS or FedEx Ground, just have an alternative outside of the U.S. Post Office.  It is easy to set up an account for either (or both) at UPS.com or FedEx.com.

The bottom line is to  save money for your customers — or yourself if you have a fixed shipping cost, when listing your items.

The last thing you want is for the shipping to cost more than the items you list…,unless of course, it is unavoidable.

And on the USPS “Parcel Post”:

To date, I’ve used the USPS Parcel Post service once.

it was an order for a traditional palm leaf and bamboo, Asian farmers  conical hat, that shipped to Georgia.


For this very light but BIG object, both the UPS rates and USPS Priority Mail rates were crazy expensive, because the hat took up so much volume.

In this instance, the best rate was the USPS Parcel Post – and I was thankful to have this service option!

However, I did not like the ambiguous delivery date window, which the post office notes at “2 to 9 days” and not much detail on the tracking information.  Plus, you do have to buy separate insurance, as unlike the USPS Priority Mail options, it does not include the $100 insurance.

The shipment did take the maximum 9 days to arrive to the customer.


I’ve visited an Etsy vintage store that noted they use ONLY USPS Parcel Post, which I found surprising, because it is not necessarily the best service.

Customers are happy to get their items FAST (and will usually report that in the review) and Parcel post can take the longest of the shipping choices.

UPDATED January, 2016

— I’ve used the Parcel Post a few more times, and it found the rates competitive for lightweight items.


A vintage gathering basket / magazine holder that shipped to an address over 2,500 miles from my location arrived in TWO DAYS!

I was impressed, and so was the customer.

So… it is possible to get items sooner than the experience I had with the Asian hat, but it is not guaranteed.

I will definitely look at this option more this year, as long as there is not an issue with transit time.

This week, also used this service to ship another basket style magazine holder.  This item took 5 days to ship over 2,700 miles  via Parcel Post — totally acceptable.


If you are an Etsy seller, what shipping service do you usually use, and what do you like best about the service?

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Related Market Tales Blog Posts:  1st post for the shipping series, Shipping for 2 lbs or less — Should you use the U.S. Postal System Priority Mail or “Regional” Priority Mail?