Small Parcel Delivery

Small parcel delivery is one of the cornerstones of today's business landscape. With the advent of e-commerce, online shopping, and decentralized workplaces, the demand for quick and reliable shipping has gone up. 





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Small Parcel Delivery

Small parcel delivery is one of the cornerstones of today’s business landscape. With the advent of e-commerce, online shopping, and decentralized workplaces, the demand for quick and reliable shipping of small parcels has gone up. 

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at small parcel delivery; How it’s done, its benefits, and some best practices for ensuring successful and efficient delivery. Whether you're a business owner, a logistics manager, or simply an online shopper, understanding the intricacies of small parcel delivery can help you save time and money in the long run.

What Qualifies as Small Parcel Delivery?

Small parcel delivery refers to the transportation of parcels that are relatively lightweight and compact. Generally, a small parcel is a package that weighs less than 75 pounds (34 kg) although some say carriers have different guidelines. 

Apart from weight, carriers also consider a package’s size to determine if it is a small parcel. 

For UPS, a small package must have a combined length and girth [(2 x width) + (2 x height)] of no more than 118 inches (299.72 centimeters). If that limit is exceeded UPS will apply a large package surcharge on your shipment. In addition to the surcharge, UPS subjects large packages to a minimum billable weight of 90 pounds. So even if your package weighs 60 pounds, UPS will charge you the 90-pound rate if they deem it as a large package. 

FedeEx’s small parcel weight limit is 75 lbs (34kg). For packages weighing more than 75 pounds, FedEx requires you to place yellow and black safety heavyweight labels over the diagonal corners of the package.

FedEx doesn’t have specific size limits for small parcels. However, they have general size restrictions which are shown below: 

With FedEx Express Domestic services, you can ship packages up to 119" (302cm) in length and 165" (419 cm) in length and girth.

With FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery Services, you can ship packages up to 108" (274cm) in length, and 165" (419 cm) in length plus girth.


Other FedEx Package Classes: FedEx Standard vs Flat vs Elongated

FedEx classifies a package as ‘Flat’ if it meets the following criteria:

The shortest dimension is less than or equal to 10 inches.

The next shortest dimension is at least four times the length of the shortest dimension.

The volume of the whole package is at least 400 cubic inches.

On the other hand, a package is classified elongated by FedEx if it meets the following criteria:

The longest dimension is at least 24 inches

The other two dimensions measure 20 percent or less than the longest dimension.

Any package that is not considered a Flat or Elongated package is classified as a Standard package.

With USPS, size and weight limits vary depending on the service used. For example, if you use USPS Priority Mail, your package must have a combined length and girth (2 x width + 2 x height) of no more than 108 inches (274.32 centimeters) and weigh no more than 70 pounds (31.75 kilograms). If you use First Class Package Service, the limits are a combined length and girth (2 x width + 2 x height) of no more than 108 inches (274.32 centimeters) and a weight of no more than 13 ounces (369 grams).

Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) vs Less Than Truckload (LTL) vs Full Truckload (FTL)

Small parcel delivery is the transportation of small packages from a source address to a destination address, both locally and internationally. Small parcel delivery can accommodate packages up to 75 (or for some carriers 150) pounds in weight. Above that, the package will attract an ‘Oversized’ surcharge or it can be shipped as freight.

Less Than Truckload is a shipping method whereby shippers share space on a truck since their shipments are not enough to fill a truck by themselves. This method is used when a shipment is too large to be considered a parcel, but too small to require a full truckload. LTL shipments are typically packages weighing between 150 and 15,000 pounds.

LTL shipping is beneficial to both the sender and the shipping company; The sender pays for a portion of space on the truck rather than renting a whole truck and the carrier makes fewer trips, thereby cutting costs. 

Full Truckload shopping is where a sender has enough goods to fill up truck capacity and therefore an entire truck is dedicated to transporting a single shipment for one customer.

The cost per mile for FTL shipping is often lower than LTL shipping due to the economies of scale achieved by consolidating a large shipment into a single truck. 

FTL shipping is often used by businesses that need to move large volumes of goods across long distances, such as suppliers, distributors, and retailers. Other than convenience, another benefit of FTL shipping is that it is fast since the dedicated truck can be loaded and transported directly to its destination without any stopovers.

When it comes to pricing, LTL, FTL, and small parcel shipping rates are all based on factors such as size, weight, distance, and shipping speed. However, LTl and FTL pricing includes another factor known as Freight Class.

LTL and FTL shipments are also priced by weight and distance but another factor is included in LTL pricing. This factor is known as freight class.

Freight class is a system used in the freight shipping industry to classify different types of goods based on their density, stowability, handling, and liability. It involves assigning a numeric code to each type of product, which is used to determine the shipping rate based on the weight and volume of the shipment.

The freight class system is designed to ensure that the shipping rates accurately reflect the handling and transportation costs associated with different types of goods.

Example of SPD vs LTL vs FTL (Amazon)

Let’s use the Amazon Marketplace as an illustration. 

When you order an item, say a pair of shoes, on Amazon, they will package it and load it onto an outbound truck along with items other people have ordered. The truck will then go out to perform small parcel delivery to the customers. 


Less than Truckload and Full Truckload are utilized in the Amazon Partnered Carrier Program. This is a program that allows Amazon sellers to use 3rd party logistics companies to send inventory to Amazon Fulfillment Centers. 

When a seller is ready to send items to Amazon, they will log into their Seller Central and order a shipment. On the order form, they can select either LTL or FTL, depending on the weight, size, and volume of the goods. 

Benefits of Small Parcel Delivery over LTL and FTL

  1. Flexibility - Small parcel delivery provides greater flexibility in terms of pickup and delivery. You can schedule a pick-up at various locations or drop off the package at an outlet or a contactless drop-off station. LTL and FTL shipments require special lifting equipment and more precise planning. 
  2. Better tracking - LTL and FTL shipping use a concept called zone skipping to cut costs and improve delivery times. Zone skipping is a freight shipping strategy that involves bypassing intermediate distribution centers and moving goods directly from the origin point to the destination zone. Small parcel delivery does not skip zones and packages are scanned at multiple processing hubs along the way. Therefore small parcel tracking is more detailed. 
  3. Cost-Effective - Small parcel delivery is a more cost-effective option for businesses that ship smaller quantities of goods. LTL and FTL shipping usually have minimum shipment volume, which means that you may end up paying for unused space.

Small Parcel Carriers


UPS is one of the largest carriers with an extensive small parcel delivery network across the world. They offer various shipping services that cater to all budgets, delivery times, and package types. 

UPS services that are great for small parcel delivery include UPS Ground Shipping, UPS 2nd Day Air, 3 Day Select, and UPS Next Day Air.

When you’re ready to ship, follow the steps below to ship your small parcel with UPS:

  1. Pack your items in a sturdy box. If you don’t have one, you can order UPS boxes online. Make sure to read the UPS packaging guidelines to avoid losses or surcharges. 
  2. Create a shipment on the UPS website and print your shipping label. You can browse UPS shipping services to find one that fits your desired shipping speed and budget. 
  3. Finally, you can schedule a pick-up or drop off the package at a UPS location.


FedEx is a time-tested courier and small parcel carrier that has been in operation since 1971. The company's extensive network of ground, air, and ocean transportation allows it to provide standard and customized parcel delivery year-round. 

Some of the FedEx services used for small parcel shipping are FedEx First Overnight, FedEx 2Day, and FedEx Ground. Check out more FedEx shipping services

Sending a small parcel with FedEx involves the following steps:

  1. Plan your shipment. Ask questions like; Am I shipping domestically or globally? How heavy is my shipment? Use the answers to pick a FedEx shipping service. 
  2. Ensure the item can be shipped. Look through FedEx’s Service Guide to find out which items are allowed and which ones are restricted or prohibited. 
  3. Package your item properly to ensure it arrives in one piece. 
  4. Choose a FedEx service and get a rate estimate
  5. Use FedEx Ship Manager to create shipping labels. 
  6. Choose additional delivery options and special services if needed.
  7. Print and attach the FedEx label to your box.
  8. Hand over the package to FedEx by drop-off or scheduled pick-up.


USPS, or the United States Postal Service, is a government-run postal service that provides mail and package delivery services throughout the United States and its territories. It has a long history, dating back to 1775, and has since grown to become one of the most used small parcel delivery options.

One advantage of USPS as a small parcel delivery carrier is its affordability. USPS rates are often lower than other carriers, particularly for lighter-weight packages.

Priority Mail, USPS Ground, and First Class Package Service are some of the services USPS offers for small parcel delivery. Check out their details and more services

How to ship your small parcel with USPS

  1. Pack your parcel - Pick a sturdy box that will protect whatever you’re shipping. If possible, stick to standard sizes to avoid paying fees for nonmachinable packages. Also, remember that USPS max weight for packages is 70 lbs. Get more details on size and weight requirements and how to measure your package
  2. Add an address label on your parcel. If you’ll be printing a shipping label, you can use that instead of a separate address label.
  3. Choose a USPS mailing service
  4. Calculate and pay shipping prices. Then apply the postage on the top-right corner of your package.
  5. Send out your parcel. You can request free pickups, drop your parcel in a blue collection box, visit a post office location, or leave your package with an approved postal provider.


A note about pricing: With all small parcel carriers, parcels that are large but lightweight (large size-to-weight ratio) are priced according to dimensional weight rather than their actual weight. 


Is it cheaper to send 2 small parcels?

Most shipping companies offer tiered pricing based on the weight and size of the package. If two small parcels individually fall within a higher pricing tier, it may be cheaper to combine them into a single package that fits within a lower pricing tier.

Moreover, shipping companies may offer discounts for larger packages. In such cases, sending two small parcels separately may be more expensive than sending a consolidated package.

However, if the parcels are sensitive or require separate handling, sending them separately may be the better option, even if it costs more.

Do Small Packages Get Tracked?

Yes, small packages are tracked as they are transported from origin to destination. The shipping labels that are stuck on parcels contain a barcode which is scanned at subsequent locations. When the code is scanned, the location and status of the package are automatically updated in the carrier’s database. The sender or recipient of the package can get the status by entering a tracking number in an online portal. 

All shipping carriers provide tracking of small parcels, albeit with different capabilities:

USPS provides basic tracking where you enter your tracking number to get info about the status of your package. 

Apart from basic tracking, FedEx also offers advanced tracking. With FedEx's advanced tracking, you can track multiple shipments, produce reports, and get access to shipping documents and images in one user-friendly, personalized dashboard.

UPS also offers multiple tracking options including UPS My Choice, Quantum View, and Global View. Each option is suited for different kinds of customers, from one-time shippers to big businesses. 

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What is the difference between parcel and freight?

A parcel typically refers to a relatively lightweight small package that is usually small enough to be easily handled by one person. A parcel can range in weight from a few ounces to around 70 pounds. Parcel shipping is often used for sending personal mail, business-to-business deliveries, and direct-to-consumer shipments.

On the other hand, freight refers to a larger consignment of goods transported using special means such as freight trucks, ships, or planes. Freight shipments typically consist of multiple packages bundled together on pallets, crates, or other large shipping containers. 

What is the cheapest way to ship a 1-pound package?

USPS Retail Ground and USPS First Class Package are the cheapest ways to ship a 1-pound package.

What is the cheapest way to ship a 20 lb package?

UPS Ground and FedEx Ground are the cheapest options for sending 20 lb packages.

What is the cheapest way to ship a 2lb package?

USPS Retail Ground and USPS Priority Mail are the cheapest options for shipping packages with weights of between 1-5 pounds. 

What is the difference between Amazon partnered carriers and other carriers?

Amazon partnered carriers are authorized by Amazon to transport packages on behalf of the company, while other carriers are not affiliated with Amazon in any way.