November 9, 2023
In 2022, 74% of shoppers in the United States considered free shipping a top consideration when purchasing online. This statistic can challenge retailers to provide delivery services that customers value with little or no damage to profitability.
Suppose you’re running an eCommerce business and looking for an affordable, non-urgent solution for shipping packages. In this case, the United Parcel Service (UPS) SurePost can be an excellent choice.
How does UPS SurePost work? What package types should you consider sending through SurePost? Can you save on shipping costs if you use this service?
This article discusses UPS SurePost in detail, including how it delivers your package, the delivery timelines this service offers, and how SurePost can benefit your business.
This article also looks into the ideal SurePost shipment profile and explains how to determine if this service is the right solution for you.
As UPS SurePost works with the United States Postal Service (USPS), consider finding a post office near you for your mailing needs. In this case, FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool can help you locate a post office by city, state, and ZIP code.
What Is UPS SurePost?
UPS SurePost is an economy mailing service for non-urgent, low-value, business-to-consumer needs.
Through SurePost, UPS makes the initial shipment pickup, and USPS makes the final delivery seven days a week.
If you live in an area with UPS Saturday operations and a ZIP code with valid USPS Sunday service, UPS can provide Sunday deliveries.
How Does SurePost Work?
SurePost shipments follow the UPS ground network and processes until your package is ready for final delivery. UPS picks up your parcel and routes it to the UPS center nearest to your recipient’s address.
From the center, UPS can either:
- Transfer the package to USPS for final delivery
- Keep your parcel in the network and combine the package with other items heading to the final destination
Afterward, USPS handles the final delivery for about two-thirds of SurePost packages, which can take one to two extra days to reach the recipient’s doorstep compared to UPS Ground.
You can track these parcels using the UPS tracking feature on UPS.com and other online shipping tools even after the U.S. Postal Service takes over the final delivery.
How Is UPS SurePost Delivered?
When UPS delivers your SurePost package, this shipping option starts with UPS’ ground network covering most of the distance.
Afterward, the shipment will be transferred to USPS for final delivery. Thus, instead of a UPS delivery person, a USPS mail carrier drops off your package at the last location.
What Delivery Timelines Does UPS SurePost Offer?
UPS strives to ensure that the packages sent through UPS SurePost will arrive at their ultimate destination within a transit time of two to seven business days.
Depending on your item’s destination and other factors like weather and distance, UPS’ delivery times can be a little shorter or longer than that period to get your packages to where they are headed.
If your shipment takes more than seven days to arrive, you can contact UPS to see what happened and the factors causing the delay. These factors include inclement weather, heavy traffic, and peak shipping season.
While SurePost isn’t necessarily the fastest UPS delivery service available, it can still be a practical solution if your packages aren’t urgent or don’t require arriving at their final destination within one or two days.
10 Steps for Using UPS SurePost
To use UPS SurePost, you must take the following steps:
- Select a shipper and a profile
- Specify the address to where your package will ship
- Specify the address from where you will ship your item
- Enter the package’s weight and dimensions
- Select the service and endorsement type, if applicable
- Input the reference numbers
- Select subclass (if applicable)
- Enter the package description
- Specify any special instructions
- Enter the package identification (I.D.) and click “Process Shipment” to print the UPS SurePost label. You can also print the customs declaration C.N. 22 form if its box is checked.
Some of the key points you should consider when using UPS SurePost are as follows:
- The customer: The UPS SurePost service is a contract-only option if you prefer a low-cost service for shipping more than 20 packages.
- The package: This service allows you to send small and lightweight, low-value, but not time-sensitive, items.
- The right fit: SurePost can be an ideal solution if you need a reliable, low-cost shipping service. Online retailers and direct-to-consumer businesses can also benefit from SurePost.
Will UPS SurePost Actually Help You Save Money?
With UPS SurePost service, you get a lower-cost shipping solution that combines the UPS Ground network’s consistency, reliability, and speed with USPS providing the final mile delivery.
How Much Do You Save Using UPS SurePost?
Suppose you want to send a package weighing 10 pounds (lbs) anywhere in the United States and U.S. territories. Based on 2023 rates, the retail shipping cost comparison between UPS SurePost and UPS Ground is as follows:
|Service||Price starts from (zone 2)||To zone 6 (within the contiguous 48 states)||To zone 8 (within the contiguous 48 states)||To zone 9 and up (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico)|
|UPS Ground||$14.65||$26.43||$33.22||$97.16 up|
Based on the prices in the table, UPS Ground may be the cheaper option than UPS SurePost for delivering to shorter distances, as denoted by the zone number (the higher the number, the farther the distance).
However, SurePost can become more affordable than UPS Ground as the delivery distance increases.
As the table above suggests, to deliver to a zone 8 location, you can save up to $2.76 per package (33.22 – 30.46 = $2.76). If your item’s destination is Hawaii or Alaska, your savings can be as much as $45.72 ($97.16 – $51.44 = $45.72).
What Is the Ideal SurePost Shipment Profile?
Suppose you’re a business-to-consumer (B2C) shipper sending at least 10 small packages daily. UPS SurePost’s low-cost ground service can benefit your operation.
Furthermore, an ideal shipment should be lightweight and with a small footprint to fit conveniently in a delivery truck.
As a guide, consider the following characteristics of your parcel:
- Weighs less than 10 pounds (lbs)
- Measures less than one cubic foot
- Delivers to a residential address
- Appropriate for B2C transactions
- Must be less than $100 in value and requires limited liability coverage
Is Tracking Included With UPS SurePost?
UPS’ integrated tracking and shipping system lets you simultaneously prepare UPS SurePost packages and other UPS shipments and track them using any UPS tracking tool.
“How Do I Track UPS SurePost?”
UPS SurePost offers you a convenient shipment tracking feature that works with USPS. Once your tracking number goes live, you can monitor your UPS shipment’s status through delivery.
Unlike FedEx (Federal Express), which requires changing tracking numbers when USPS takes over the delivery journey’s last mile, UPS SurePost allows you to use one tracking number throughout the delivery process.
In other words, you don’t need multiple tracking numbers even when the delivery switches from UPS to USPS.
Additionally, UPS deliveries typically require a signature before delivering a package to a specific address. With SurePost, this requirement isn’t mandatory, so UPS can immediately deliver your parcel to the listed addresses on the first attempt.
How Long Does UPS SurePost Take to Deliver?
UPS takes two to seven days to deliver your SurePost package to any of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Meanwhile, destinations outside the 48 contiguous states may have longer transit times.
Benefits of SurePost Shipping
Because SurePost allows USPS to take the pressure of making the final delivery from UPS, this service opens logistic opportunities for small- and medium-sized business (SMB) shippers.
For example, UPS can collect SurePost packages with other parcels. If you’re an SMB owner engaged in eCommerce, this feature can help save you time and effort so you can focus more on pressing business issues.
Using UPS to ship all kinds of parcels, big and small, can also help spare you the hassle of managing different systems for tracking packages. You don’t need to be too concerned about whether UPS or USPS ships your package because the tracking information is all in one place.
Also, because USPS handles the last mile delivery, you can send orders to post office boxes (P.O. boxes)— something you can’t do with other ground services from other companies.
Pros and Cons of This Service
No shipping company provides a perfect delivery experience. Thus, while UPS SurePost has advantages over other services in some aspects, this option also has cons in other areas.
The following sections list these pros and cons to help you make informed decisions.
Consider choosing UPS SurePost if you want the following benefits:
- Saturday deliveries at no extra cost
- Relatively lower shipping costs for non-urgent items
- Integrated tracking feature
- Easy integration with most shipping software
You can look for other solutions aside from SurePost if you have concerns with the following disadvantages:
- Comparatively slower delivery time than other services
- Limited shipping reach outside the contiguous 48 U.S. states
- Use of your own instead of the company’s boxes for packaging
- Limited shopping cart support
- Confusing features of integrated tracking in some cases
UPS SurePost vs. Ground
While Surepost delivers in two to seven days, UPS Ground delivers in one to five business days.
SurePost can also deliver to P.O. boxes and military post offices such as the Army/Air Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO).
On the other hand, only USPS can deliver to an APO/FPO location for security reasons. UPS and FedEx cannot deliver to these military bases. These couriers can’t do so directly except through USPS.
In this case, UPS SurePost and FedEx Ground Economy (previously called FedEx SmartPost) work with USPS to allow you to deliver your packages to these destinations.
Can UPS SurePost Upgrade to UPS Ground?
You can upgrade your UPS SurePost shipment to UPS Ground through your UPS My Choice account. As of July 2023, if you have a basic (free) account, the upgrade costs $7.99. But if you have a premium (paid) subscription, the upgrade is free.
Is UPS SurePost Shipping Right for You?
Suppose you’re an SMB engaging in B2C operations. SurePost can be an excellent solution for shipping cost reductions and reliable residential delivery fulfillment to help you keep up with increasingly demanding shipping standards.
You can use the ideal SurePost shipment profile discussed earlier as your reference to determine if this service is the right solution for your delivery needs.
The following section discusses other considerations before using SurePost for your business needs.
Who Should Use This Service?
While UPS SurePost may not fit every business requirement, you should first determine if your business will benefit from this service. Doing so can help you decide whether UPS SurePost or another service, such as UPS Ground, will help you achieve your objectives.
You can consider using UPS SurePost if you or your business does any of the following:
- Ship a large volume of packages weekly
- Keep last-mile delivery costs under control
- Send non-urgent shipments
- Maintain a significant weekly spend that may allow your business to negotiate preferential UPS shipping rates
Make UPS SurePost Work for Your Business
UPS SurePost can be a helpful courier service, especially if you’re an eCommerce store with non-urgent deliveries. With features like unified tracking, affordable fees, and Saturday deliveries, as discussed earlier, this service can benefit your business.
Moving Into the Future With Greater Efficiency
UPS SurePost delivery is a viable solution if you’re looking for a good balance of reasonable delivery speed and low price. Despite having a slower delivery time than UPS Ground service, SurePost has a relatively better price based on the cost comparison discussed earlier.
By offloading shipping to USPS on the final delivery, SurePost can cover a large delivery area and handle weekend deliveries.
Although there is no shortage of shipping options when looking at the market, one helpful tip is to match your expectations to a cost-effective delivery method.
Thus, if UPS SurePost can meet those expectations and help you utilize creative options to cut down on that last-mile cost, this service can provide efficiencies for your business.
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